Other countries care about their societies and their unique culture, but we in the US don’t seem to care about ours. Why not?
Look at the decisions we’re making and what we’re doing. It’s violent, it’s immoral, it’s abusive of human beings and the Earth.
- Multinational corporations form a secret Trans-Pacific Partnership to drastically lower regulations on industry globally, damaging workers and consumers alike.
- Neoconservatives refuse to participate in building a safety net for everyone, allowing racism and class preference to dictate our social structure.
- Conservatives actively suppress the vote in many states today so they can win local and federal elections by eliminating the vote for those who oppose them.
- High tech corporations invented – and have now poisoned – the well of worldwide information on which we all depend by allowing NSA to spy on users.
- Corporate enterprise and market values are ruining our education system and forcing students to take on the burden of trillions of dollars in debt.
- Austerity and blame-the-victim policies have pushed half the middle class below the poverty line while unions are crushed and workers are mired in debt.
- Bankers ruin the economy, then get bailed out, then go back to risky practices without anyone being prosecuted and receiving jail time.
- Billionaires buy elections and corporate lobbyists purchase legislative favors.
No one seems to be actively pursuing the preservation of our political system or protecting America’s work force. Why is it we don’t care about our society? The citizens of other countries care about their cultures, their political systems. They protect their people from harmful policies. Why can’t we do the same?
Our decisions and actions, by contrast, are those of a corporate bully, forcing other peoples to accept our point of view, our economic power and our military might.
How did this happen?
Pretty much the way any schoolyard bully acquires the habit – observing that violence suppresses disagreement. The child sees father beating up on mother, then begins to think violence, particularly against a weak victim, is an appropriate response to problems. This is how our nation is acting, at home and abroad.
To break the bully habit, we need to take three important steps.
First, we need to respect people for the unique qualities and distinctive characteristics they have, and the contributions they make. It’s become too easy to label people and wall them off discounting their worth to society – like workers, people of color, the middle class.
Second, we need to make the rules apply to everyone. We’ve gotten away from the rule of law by allowing lawyers to argue away our basic democratic values of equality, fairness and justice. When we see others waiting to find a way to duck responsibility and find special privileges for themselves, it’s tempting to await our chance, too.
Rights meted out competitively (education, health and justice) lead to duties shunned in search of exception (taxes, voting and engagement). We must encourage a national readiness to contribute to collective projects, whether building local infrastructure or international peace processes.
Third, we need our elected and appointed officials, and our media – especially those corporately owned – to mount a public service campaign, throughout the next decade, to dramatize each citizen’s right as a member of a community protected by law, but also as one owing a responsibility to that community for loyalty and engagement.
We must avoid believing we no longer have a relationship with, or responsibility to, our fellow citizens around the world. We need to develop a national ethos that promotes joining with others to construct a society that benefits everyone.
New times call for new national attitudes. We need to put old neoconservative ways of bullying aside so we can reshape our national will to care more about our society and our world.