America: We Are Rome
And it's time for a change, lest we fall as they did.
I love America. Call it misplaced nationalistic pride if you want, but I think that this country still has the potential to be great once more.
Before I go any further, let me tell you a little about me. I’m a published author, an artist, a college graduate passionately pursuing a dream that many would say is crazy (and that my finances would seem to indicate is outright insane as well.) I’ve lived well, I’ve starved, I’ve seen the ups and downs, the hard times and the good. I write constantly– it’s cheap to start, it’s the one thing that I know I can do, and it’s the one thing where I can keep slamming my head against the walls put up between hungry young males (like me) and the jobs that pay more than a starving wage.
What’s my definition of a starving wage? Anything less than a person needs to survive in today’s world, plus a little bit on the side (say $100 a month here in California) to spend on the kind of frivolous things (like Starbucks or roses for the one you love) that make life worth living. Heck, I get excited when I can actually put money into my savings account. With Social Security going downhill and with my personal choice not to have children, I’m already saving for a period when I’m going to be too old to work. Will I have enough put away to live off of when I get there? Well, we’ll just have to see what happens.
Here’s the thing. I was born here in the US, third generation Californian, and even though the third world conditions all around me in the cities make me so disgusted sometimes I want to ditch this piece of dirt and start over in a state or a country that actually cares about the health and happiness of its citizens, I’ve stayed. Why? Because I think that this place has the potential to be great. We have the potential to stop the societal decline and be the great empire that didn’t fall. We have the potential to become a first world nation again.
What’s the root of our problem? It’s not immigrants, it’s not pollution, it’s not money, it’s not any religious group or ethnicity– it’s greed, it’s unhappiness, it’s a lack of time, a lack of educational resources, a lack of access to good paying jobs and a media-enhanced polarization of ideologies. We’re the richest nation on Earth, but there’s such a huge divide between the upper classes and the lower classes that it’s almost worse than feudalism or the caste system of India. Consider this– I’ve spent my whole life studying, supporting and working in fields relating to the empowerment of minorities, racial, sexual and religious. I identify myself as both a feminist and a gay rights activist, and I’ve heard (and even written) all the stories about how easy it is for people who are white and male to make it in this world.
Let me tell you, it’s a fantasy. The disempowered aren’t any one given minority. They’re the majority. They’re the working poor that gets stiffed so often. In my lifetime, I have seen more working poor who are white, male (and hey, sometimes even protestant!) than I have of any other race, sex or creed. Sometimes, being involved with various empowerment groups, I even feel like it’s a sin just being what I am, a sin that I have to make up for by undoing the damage the ancestors of other white people did long before I was born (my family didn’t come over with any of the early settlers, and members of both sides of my family have been involved in empowerment and furthering the social causes of women and minorities for as long as they’ve been in this great country.)
How do we fix our nation? By taking action. We have to look past the little traditional differences that we have been taught separate us and band together as the non-wealthy consumers we are. We have to buck the system. We have to stand up, call in sick, leave work in droves, turn off our televisions and stand outside on street corners with signs. We have to ask our leaders, our bosses and our politicians the kind of questions that are going to make them squirm. We have to change our daily habits virally, en-masse, and send a message to the big corporations that rule this nation in the only voice we have left– the voice of the consumer. As long as we live in a corporate-controlled employer’s market system where the wealthy ride the carcass of our nation into the ground, things are going to go downhill.
I’m not advocating violence. I have never advocated violence. I believe in passive resistance, standing up and walking out, showing those we all support unknowingly that we’re not going to support them anymore. I’m saying that we need to simply stop playing the game that the rich have written the rules for. We need to stand up and work together to change the rules or we are going to be trampled to death by the fortunate few as they swarm in like pigs at the feeding trough. We need to inform people, show them how their materialism selfishly hurts others. We need to educate people, make them think, and take action now before it is too late.
And if “the man” tries to put us down, if the system pushes on us, takes away our voice, our rights, our liberties, our loves, our dreams or anything else we have, we must stand stronger and work harder toward a future where America will be a nation we can be proud of again, a nation where our children can grow up safe, where our children and our parents can always get the health care they need without having to pay exorbitant fees for it, and where our children won’t have to be afraid of speaking out against corruption in whatever forms it may take (or wherever it may hide.) We have to be a nation of the kind of independent over-achievers that our founding fathers were, or else everything we have accomplished as a nation in the last two centuries will have been for naught.