Sunday, January 4, 2009

At the Right Place at the Right Time

Have you ever heard or seen something a number of times, but then, one day you hear it or see it differently... and suddenly you get it. I mean you really get it, you see it so clearly you feel like the times you saw or heard it before you had been underwater or had been living with gauze over your eyes. I had one of those moments today after a movie. I guess I was in the right place at the right time; a place of "open-mindedness" that enabled me to see things clearly for the first time in a long time. Saying I'm seeing things more clearly means I was able to truly see the culture that we've created in a realistic and straightforward way. This is somewhat hard to explain; please be patient with me and stick with me, I think I'll be able to get the right sentiment across. But believe me when I say I am not speaking from any specific "brand" of a soapbox. Just the rumblings of things in my head that finally got too loud to ignore! I am not a pessimist or anti-American, staunch conservative, or left wing liberal by any standards. While registered to vote, I don't necessarily follow the party line; I usually vote whichever position seems to me the right thing to do. I do go to church, but rely on my core faith and spirituality to guide me as much as my chosen religion. Today, in my moment of clarity, I was your average member of the human race: not white, yellow, brown or black, republican or democrat, not any particular religion, not married, single, mother or childless not wealthy or poor, just an average person who finally had the back bone to open my eyes to the sides of our culture that aren't very pretty. Please know on an individual level I see heroes everyday, I witness incredible acts of generosity and kindness. I am amazed at the American entrepreneurial spirit. Our ability to create incredible pieces of art, music, architecture, etc. blows me away. We have built a strong and capable country that has accomplished a multitude of wonderful things, made revolutionary discoveries and has shared much of what has been given to us. It's just....
We also have an ego problem.
Today, loud and clearly, I heard that voice in my head which I managed to ignore more often than not because it was easier to look the other way. Why do we think our way is the only way, why do we preach one thing and then stifle the voices that don't sing the exact same tune as ours. For instance, we all love our children, we pretty much agree our children are our future and most precious commodity. Yet, the sales of processed foods targeted at kids are higher than ever. Doctors regularly prescribe un-necessary anti-antibiotics, ultimately weakening our children's resistance. Daycare providers and teachers across the country - who spend almost as many waking hours with children as their parents do - are underpaid and not usually rewarded on a merit basis. In order to keep their jobs they are often resorting to "teach to the tests" in order to "meet the required numbers," not leaving them a whole lot of time to teach to the child. Our earth's bill of health is not good and now its hip and cool to be green; yet on an average day you can't always see the horizon, or mountains that are a few miles away due to smog in the air. The number of asthma cases seem to increase on a yearly basis. Due to our disposable culture land fills are overflowing with plastic. Glaciers are disappearing before our eyes and river beds are drying up, and the E.P.A. is one of the least respected federal agencies in our government. Corporations and manufacturing are not regulated or held accountable consistently for their by product waste. After years of resistance, automobile manufacturers are beginning to embrace the hybrid car, yet our internal infrastructure and public transportation is not up to par and the train service on a national level is on the cusp of their very existence. The food that we grow in our country that feeds our population and others is regulated by the very department that was originally set up to protect the farmers and ranchers, growing the food, creating a constant conflict of interest. Girls are maturing earlier than ever as evidenced by the average age of menstruation getting younger and younger. Yet hormones continue to be injected into cattle and chickens to create larger animals that produce more milk and make larger breasts (and those aren't just the chicken's breasts as a result). On a national level we donate incredible amounts of money to our charities, yet we are the exception to the rule, most Americans living better than 92% of the rest of the world. Is it horrible to consider strategies that would help distribute the wealth? Doesn't it make socioeconomic sense? More wealth in the hands of more people creates more consumers. Isn't one of the common denominators at the root of most wars, uprisings, civil conflicts, suicide bombers all the same? Hunger. Hunger for food, relationships, education, health care. I forget who wrote it, but once I read it I never forgot it, "a hungry man starts a revolution." We have a spew of sex and violence not just on our TV and in movies and the music scene, which I agree, we can turn off if desired; but also on billboards, magazines, prime time TV and electronic games and then we are shocked at the increased levels of violence and sexual assaults and crimes. People preach to go back to church, embrace your faith (which, as a side note: I do), but then we tend to judge certain faiths more harshly. Or people who enthusiastically live their faith are branded as way out of touch. The importance of family time, is universally accepted; but the majority of families in our nation are robbed of this opportunity because their parents have to work shifts at different times in order to keep a roof over their heads. The multitude of books written about relationships reflects the high standards we have regarding our relationships, yet our divorce rate is still very high. We are told to love our neighbors, and then we quickly define what the so called "normal" love is, or even try to legislate who you should, or should not, love. We punish petty criminals both legally and socially with more ferociousness than we do the white collar criminals who ruin the lives of many with the stroke of a pen, or phone call, or computer transaction, by stealing their homes or dreams of ever owning a home. Not only do we not always send these people to prison, we actually pay them an incredible bonus on the way out the door. We fight wars to protect democracy and freedoms; but then look the other way when the victims don't have a rich natural product or other commercial equity in their country. I am not trying to bash Americans. I am only hoping to shake us up a bit and look around us and see some of the lack of social justice,overall inequalities and mistakes we have made. Open our eyes to the daily dichotomy we live in. Can we evolve our thinking enough to make the necessary changes and hopefully repair some of the damage? Can we open our minds enough to understand that just because it's the way we've always done it, doesn't necessarily make it right? Can we handle the fact that we aren't always going to be the alpha dog on the block? There is a new man coming to town, (I live in a DC suburb) who got here on a tidal wave of grass roots support, who embraced technology and new ways to do things, who campaigned on a message of change, will the American public be up to the challenge of what true change would require? Will we be able to modify our lifestyles, our desires (not needs,) but desires when it makes sense to do so? Can we re-build our infrastructure to support the present population and the diversity that comes with it? I'd like to think so. I'd like to think that the people who overcame disease and famine and dust bowls and hurricanes and the civil unrest can also belly up to the bar and do whats right and what is necessary to be the superpower type country we claim to be. I mentioned hunger as the reason revolutions are started. I think it's time that more Americans hunger equality on numerous levels, and use that hunger to start a really cool revolution of change. The Internet has already proven itself as a serious vehicle to carry the message of change. I'm excited to see what role the Internet and the millions of users who embrace it will play in the next decade, hopefully a decade of change for the good. From my perspective there is lots of room to do good here, and lots of good people to do it. Will you be one of them? How will you change? What are you willing to do to embrace and encourage change. Think about it, it's important.

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