The Blame Is On Each of Us
The country seems in turmoil. And there is blaming all around.
The blame is everywhere. Except where it should be. On each of us.
America is a nation founded by the most resolute survivors. Those who uprooted themselves from intolerable conditions to reinvent themselves on a foreign land,. Those who were uprooted, enslaved and treated like second class citizens for far far too long. Those who had their land invaded and conquered. All, without a safety net. All, on our own.
We are a nation of indomitable individuals. So very indomitable that our ancestors had the audacity to embark upon something revolutionary: establish the world’s first democracy with the intrinsic objective of becoming ever better…of striving, forever, to become a more perfect union.
America is not a geographic entity. It is not an ethnic entity. It is an idea. Universal. Embraceable by anyone. An idea that burdens each of us…self-reliant individuals like no other population on earth…with the duty to forever make our nation better.
Our individuality and our community are inextricably bound.
We each strive to make ourselves better. We each strive to make our country better. But those objectives can come out of balance.
That’s what’s happening to our country now.
Social media has unleashed a torrent of information at us. We are seeing so much else from other areas and populations in our nation that we think should be done a different way, a better way. And we are speaking out and fighting to make those “others” change.
It is, I would argue, noble to want to fix the world. Our collective American DNA almost dictates that we behave as such. But it’s also human nature to find it easier — in that quest to fix the world — to tell other people what to do rather than do the heavy lifting and actually change ourselves.
And…in the end…the uncomfortable and indisputable truth is…first and foremost, change ourselves we must.
It is not Facebook’s fault that our feeds are filled with anxiety and extremity. It is our fault for perpetuating gripping negativity and despair, instead of trumpeting realistic positivity and hope.
It is not landlords’ fault that local storefronts are shuttered. It is our fault for resorting to one-click purchases, instead of shopping from an actual person.
It is not Donald Trump’s fault that the white working class is so upset. It is our fault for ignoring, for generations, factory closings and brutalizing efficiencies, instead of dedicating ourselves to ameliorating their plight and facilitating their rebirth.
It is not technology’s fault that we feel like we work 24/7. It is our fault for accepting jobs that encourage such, instead of eschewing whatever pittance of extra salary is offered to suffer such.
It is not racists’ fault that so much economic disparity still grips the Black community. It is our fault for accepting — indeed celebrating — an economy perpetuating stagnant wages and entrenching ungodly wealth, instead of renouncing jobs that enable such.
It is not immigrants’ fault that our income is flat. It is our fault for presumptuously settling into complacent lives and taking America’s precious opportunities for granted, instead of seizing every chance to learn, evolve, invest and thrive.
It is not other Americans’ fault that their values and interests and problems are nonsensical to us. It is our fault for being consumed by our small bubbles or enamored by the exotic, instead of giving curiosity and wonder and respect to those in our own backyard.
Are their systemic problems? Certainly. But in a nation founded by strident individuals who hold individual liberties so dear, we ALL spend far too much time blaming others and systems and avoiding the uncomfortable fact that the person with the most power to change our circumstances (individually and collectively) looks back at us in the mirror every day.
Individual responsibility. It goes hand in hand with our individual liberty and individual empowerment. Whether you are rural, suburban or urban. Black or white or Asian or Latinx or Indigenous. Blue collar or white collar. Christian or Jewish or Muslim or Hindu or Atheist. Whatever gender. Whatever orientation. Whatever political party.
People blame their problems on others when they don’t believe they have the strength to bear the burden of responsibility themselves. But we do have the necessary strength. Most assuredly.
There is greatness and profound resolve within each of us, drawn from our ancestors who fought like hell to survive on these shores…who created a nation of flesh and blood from parchment…who slowly stitched our nation back from civil war…who have laid down160,000 miles of railroads and 47,000 miles of interstate highways…who dug a canal big enough to divide two continents…who helped defeat fascist dictatorships in World War II…who landed human beings on the moon…who outlasted Russian Communism…who conceived of technology that has revolutionized human existence.
We as Americans are bound by something stronger than ethnicity or land or political policy (whatever your issue). We are bound by the idea of America which propels us ever forward with liberty to individually adapt and create while marching into the future…together…more perfect than before.
This is our country, America. Let’s own it. Let’s fix it.
But start with that person in the mirror.
[image from www.psnetwork.org]