Growing up in the post-Vietnam War era, the USA seemed like a bright beacon of hope for the rest of the world. We were leading the world both financially and technologically. We had no social media, we had television. There were no foreign entities or agendas involved in the programming, so we saw what American media wanted us to see. It was controlled, with everyone agreeing we had the good life.
Even though Desert Storm was a little harsh and confusing, we went right along into the 90s where a new era of music was born and the economy was doing great. And we had Seinfeld. Who could ask for more?
Those of us who went to college heard all about people from Japan and other Eastern cultures wanting to be just like us. As the internet was transformed into the World Wide Web, the rest of the world became something we started to know more about in the late 90s. At first, the Internet was practically useless. It was actually difficult to find information on what you typed into the search bar. When my best friend told me the more we use it the more accurate it’s going to get, I thought she was crazy.
So yay, the new millennium came, and with it came the useful World Wide Web and eventually social media. Now, we have information in an instant. More importantly, we have communication in an instant. This let us see out to other parts of the world and it let the rest of the world see us.
For about the last decade, Americans have been under an internet microscope. With the use of tools like Youtube and social media by celebrities, by bands, by companies – anyone with access can get a better look into American culture than any magazine could ever portray.
It didn’t happen overnight, but what once looked like a beautiful culture and society, went speeding head first on a slippery slope, and its people never even saw the edge coming. We slipped off the edge into an ugly, flailing fall for the rest of the world to see.
We Americans are just now seeing how dark parts of our culture and society are, while the rest of the world probably isn’t surprised. Anyone who was truly studying the American culture over the last 30 or so years could clearly see, for example, why being Brittany Spears or Kurt Cobain wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
Just by observance through information sharing, people around the world could see we were a society where image and wealth mattered. Yet we had relationship problems. Divorce rates started soaring and homes were split up. We were in a recession. Police brutality became a huge issue due to internet sharing. Mass shootings became more common. And to top it all off, other countries began to catch up technologically and economically.
We weren’t really paying too much attention to the catching up part, because we didn’t think our own fowl behaviors would ever catch up with us, much less cause American culture to become, dare I say, ugly. It happened, whether we want to believe it or not, the United States of America is bald, and fat, standing shriveled up naked before the rest of the world, with a nuke in its hand.
We’re no longer the richest country in the world. That might be the least of our worries. We may have been building a coffin all along but 2016 and 2017 have put an adequate number of nails in it, enough to make some cry and others scurry to pry the nails out in an attempt to revive the corpse. Bigger problems emerged in 2016 from extreme political discord and infighting during the 2016 presidential campaign. The election itself didn’t ease the situation, it only intensified anger and further political divide amongst Americans.
The election seemed to mark the beginning of the end for our great country, and not only because the person appointed to POTUS is a billionaire reality TV show host with no prior governing experience, but because the election process is said to undermined by the Russian government, who allegedly (?) meddled in the process to help ensure the person who won would be the candidate who might favor forging a relationship that benefits Russia.
The rest of the world could have been just as confused as we Americans at the whole election situation and its outcome, and for anyone willing to give this new POTUS a chance, it’s doubtful it could be anymore disappointing. The polls have consistently placed this POTUS at an all time low, and his outrageous approach to just about everything is further enhanced by his childish Twitter rants, which is unlike anything Americans have seen in their lifetime.
From a worldwide view the United States now has a leader who’s out of control and self-absorbed, along with the fact that he’s extremely abrasive and doesn’t understand how government works. High government positions have been like a rotating door with too many firings, resignations and unfilled positions to even keep track. Yet, it’s typical for politics to be a messy business, and perhaps people around the world aren’t really using that as a way to rate what they think of the country that once led the world in just about everything.
What’s seen more so on the surface is what circulates in the media and on social media. The political divide and infighting is hard to overlook but if we do we simply see other ugly truths.
For the better part of the last few years police brutality has been a hot issue, but just like other social issues, the flame tends to burn steady, the story gets old, and people start to look away for newer headlines.
Here are a few of the more well-known murders that took place this year. While this is a very small list, these were some of the incidents that made headlines around the world and represented the tone of social unrest in modern-day America.
May 2017, a 35-year old white man, Jeremy Christian, stabbed two other men on a public train in Portland after they tried to calm him down from escalating with anti-Muslim slurs toward two female passengers.
June 2017, a 66-year old white man, James Hodgkinson, opened fire into a republican congressional baseball practice, seriously injuring congressman, Steve Scalise.
August 2017, 20-year-old white man, James Alex Fields, a white supremacist, killed a pedestrian during a “Unite The Right” rally. The rally was a gathering of white nationalists, or in other words white supremacists.
October 2017, 66-year old white man, Steven Paddock, killed 59 people and injured over 500 more in a mass shooting in Las Vegas during a country music concert. This was the deadliest mass shooting in modern times for the USA.
November 2017, 26-year-old white man, Devin Kelley, killed 26 people in a mass shooting in a during a church service in Sutherland, Texas.
In addition to Americans trying to get a grip on the rise in hate crimes and the senselessness of regular mass shootings, as well as stomaching our serial killers, the #MeToo movement has turned into a mass media frenzy. The wave of public allegations against Hollywood figures, media figures in general, and political figures has gone off the charts. It’s put a magnifying glass on the USA for the rest of the world to see through, and it’s put up a rather large mirror to reflect American culture back to its people.
It seems like the rise in hate crimes, the sudden public reappearance of white supremacists, the obvious political divide amongst Americans, and the rise in sexual harassment allegations and consequences, are new trends, or at the very least, are a surprise for many who grew up in a United States that looked like the land of ‘liberty and justice for all’ during our childhoods. Yet, it’s likely not a surprise to minorities and women.
The groups of Americans who have been victims of hate, racism, fascism, sexual harassment and abuse don’t see these events as new trends; they see these events as long-standing social issues that have gone unaddressed for decades. Oppressed Americans aren’t surprised that their methods of protesting inequality are being met with fascist road blocks.
NFL players simply peacefully kneel during the National Anthem in protest of police brutality and social inequality, and the result is a boycott of the NFL causing financial harm to what was otherwise an extremely popular sport. While many of those accused of sexual harassment are being forced to resign from their positions in the media and in politics, we still have a sitting president who has been accused, and endorses a candidate running for senate who has been accused of sexual misconduct with teenagers.
While climate change has likely contributed to storms and fires this year that have caused mass destruction to the United States and places around the world, we are the only country to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. We’re also the country that is stoking a dangerous nuclear fire with North Korea, which poses a major threat to world security.
While the rest of the world looks at us like – WTF? – we’re sitting here baffled at how our seemingly beautiful country, which once led and inspired those around the globe, seems to be the epitome of all that is just too ugly to believe. We might even wonder how it happened. More so, we may wonder what we can do to solve some of the issues.
The solution is a makeover, and the makeover requires Americans to come together. We can’t remain divided. We must come together in a way that lets us agree that our beautiful country, culture and society can shine through and show our best parts. We have to make use of our strengths.
We can use the strengths of our “land of opportunity” outlook to bolster the idea that we have amazing strength, intelligence and talent amongst our people. Perhaps our family traditions are changing a bit. As long as people are community-minded and will help those in the community, especially children, to believe in themselves, it doesn’t matter what the family unit looks like. It matters what the community-unit looks like. If cooperation and sharing give way to healthy, functioning, strong communities, the overall look of society becomes more attractive.
The workforce is a massive strength. Our quality of life and economy is derived from how successful we can be as a society. Major enhancements to this facet of society require fair wages, decent wages, decent treatment of employees and more opportunites for growth in the work place. This starts with the people in corporate positions and management positions. Ground level employees must insist on better practices and the public must insist on patriotic capitalism.
Specifically, the public must stop doing business with currupt corporations and must take a stand against price gouging of entities such as drug companies and technology companies. The public must protect against monopolies and bring back the opportunities for local businesses to be able to compete.
Every American must have care and compassion toward every other American, which requires a revamping of our current value system. We should change our competitve nature to a cooperative nature. We should change our idolization of the rich and famous to idolizing philanthropy and humility. We should change our viewpoints on the importance of money and status to the importance of caring for others and nurturing those who need it most.
We should make respect for every living being the primary principle to live by. We should boost each other up, and stand up to any injustices brought on by facism and bigotry. We should not seek division in politics by red and blue, but rather make all of America a purple nation by learning compromise.
It’s up to the American people to make our nation beautiful again. It starts with the man in the mirror.