Well. Don’t we, as a nation (the United States), find ourselves in a pretty pickle? We once prided ourselves on walking a straight line, looking folks in the eye, and telling it like we saw it. Now we have become a nation which turns a blind eye, talks out of the side of the mouth, and back-stabs.
Maybe it’s because we’ve become too omnipotent? We have too much money? Too much power? Too many satellites? Too many intelligence agencies? We know it all. So, we’ve become know-it-alls? We can do whatever we want. So, whatever we do must be right?
And that national trait has trickled down to the individual. We spent a whole election season. As an utterly polarized nation. Divided almost evenly down the middle politically. We spent that whole season convincing ourselves that we, each of us, standing alone in our secluded rooms of virtual reality, we had to be right.
No need to go outside, have a look around, talk to anyone else, visit another town, pay attention to yard signs. Nope. We knew what we knew. We underlined what we knew by checking our Facebook Feed, just to make sure that all of our Friends confirmed that we knew what we knew. Anyone saying anything different was clearly wrong, stupid, brainwashed or living on another planet.
I mean, we had the technology. The satellites. The cables. Facebook. Google. If our nation had all of this. And was feeding it into our virtual basement. If we bothered to pay attention to our cherry-picked, targeted, carefully-selected, tabbed, flagged, ‘universal’ news, then, gee, we had to be right. Right?
And off we trotted to the polling booth. Convinced in our righteousness. And we voted. And the other guy won. Well. That just had to be plain wrong, didn’t it? He was a crook. The media was biased. The votes were miscounted. The system behaved differently this time. Hang on. Let me check my Facebook Feed. Yup. There it is. Plain as day. All my Friends agree.
So. He ain’t my President. Can’t be. Can he? He doesn’t look like me. Act like me. My Feed says he ain’t my President. So there.
But. We were told he was a crook. We didn’t look. Beyond our Feed. We were warned he was a bully. We didn’t listen. Except to our Friends. We were given evidence. We ignored it. I mean. If we don’t have to pay attention to the rest of the world. Why do we now have to pay attention to the elephant in our virtual room?
So. We made a mistake. Do we play fair? Do we play by the rules? Do we fess up? Do we own it? Hell no.
We are told what happened. In excessive detail. We are told what Trump was doing. And we’re further told how it was that he likely became President. What ubiquitous digital tools were used. All that digital power come home to roost.
But, for whatever reason, we cannot face it head on. How can we possibly admit we were wrong?
We pretend not to know. We sort of look into it. But without actually uttering the words. Ooh, ooh. Jared met the Russian Ambassador. And a banker. Why? Ssssh. We’re not sure. We’ll just put it out there. Quietly. That we’re looking. And maybe. Something will happen.
Ooh, ooh. I know. If that doesn’t work. Psst. We’ll just brief the press behind everyone’s back. You know. Leak.
We have the President we deserve. He completely reflects what has become our national character. We are self-righteous. To the point of not listening to anyone else, looking at anyone else, believing only in ourselves, and in our own point of view.
We base our self-righteousness on fake input. That which we cherry-pick. Be it from our global satellite net. In our Presidential situation basement. Or from our Facebook Feed. On our laptop. In our very own residential virtual basement.
We believe we have the absolute right to project our self-righteousness as far as our reach will go. Be that screaming at folks online. Punching people on-camera. Body-slamming journalists. Sending drones over foreign countries. Leaking other people’s intelligence. Or pushing aside other people’s Prime Ministers.
It never occurs to us any more to be a team player. To belong to international organizations. And make them work. We no longer seem to find acceptable the view that we make the greater contribution, we bear the greater sacrifice, because we are the richer nation, and it falls on us to be the most generous.
It no longer occurs to individuals that half the nation thinks differently to them. That outreach might be better than online smugness and bullying. We don’t have time for campaign, for natural change, for persuasion. We want the Red Button. Now. Right now. Because we’re right. We have to be right. They have to be wrong. Because we say so.
If they won’t listen. We will slander their representatives. Bypass the system. No need for process or proof. The transgressor is impeached because we say so. Criminal. Because we say so. Treasonous, because it is obvious. And his or her supporters. Are to be ignored. Disempowered. In their millions. Simply for being wrong.
We have become the laughing stock of the world, not because of the behavior of one man. But because he reflects the behavior of 300 million.
There is still time. To draw breath. To behave better as a nation. To behave better as individuals.
To listen. To learn. To ask. Rather than preach. To realize we are not self-righteous islands. To understand that there are no absolutes. All is relative.
To rely less on our self-belief. And more on due process. To trust systems and paths of change. Rather than the scream and the virtual fist.
To become, once again a national family. Part of an international humanity. To become once more the straight-talking champions of freedom, dignity and respect. And to leave behind the terrible reputation we have wrought of spoiled, sneaky, brattish bullies.
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