What a truly American week. The time has come to see if the Nation of Wealth and Privilege can withstand a fractured home. Having grown up around so much wealth and privilege myself, and also having grown up around a considerable amount of fractured homes, I find myself unoptimistic. It seems to be that the disenfranchised, very much like the unique and forgotten child, have found their voice and begun to yelp loudly -- I for one, cannot blame them. This has left the stuffy but successful father to wonder what all the bitching is about, and to question why his children won’t simply follow the well-beaten path he’s left behind him. As is true in most disputes, this is the fault of everyone involved. It’s obvious that this cycle has left everyone more than a little skittish, reaching to their pockets for fingers to point or statistics to brandish, and really who could blame any of them? It’s no secret as to why people, who are normally rational and functioning, could believe for a second that taping a flag to a pole and driving it around or spouting another cliche, but innocuous slogan is going to solve anything at all -- people are afraid, for their families, for themselves, and for the place they call home.
I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to gain wisdom from people who are older, wiser, and more respectable than I am. I get out of doing that, the same enjoyment most athletes get out of winning or most entrepreneurs get out of building successfully within an industry. I don’t know, it’s just what I was born enjoying, and it’s also a trait I’m thankful for. These conversations have ranged from people who would not wish to be born in this country a second time given the chance, to veterans who, after even short, non-combat stints in the Middle-East, put their lips to American soil each morning and sing the nation’s praises any chance they can. On the whole, the majority of these folks on either side of the experiment have been welcoming, intelligent, thoughtful people full of hope and ambition for a better tomorrow. These are the Americans I choose to believe in; this is my chosen picture of our country’s majority. But of course, I’m not unique in this belief. It’s also a meta-belief of mine that most folks themselves, hold this belief to be true -- that their neighbors are just as normal and decent as they are, and that there is hope, if only we could see it, for a peaceful and shared future together. Regardless though, we live in a collective state of fear under a specter of mistrust, blanketed constantly in the grim possibility that somebody else “out there” is going to come and take away that to which we hold most dear: love, faith, the ability to pursue the things that make us most happy.
What this fear, it seems to me, has done to us is caused a belief that the things around us can and will take away our power of being, our autonomy to live. What we must understand, or at least seek to understand, is the power of things that are small when the whole world around us seems to be filled with giants. Everything that we know and understand as “life” is fueled by us and what we put into it. If you don’t like the idea of big corporations, your dollar holds the power. If you don’t like how the government treats us, there is power in striving for self-sustainability. If you’ve become frustrated with social media, freedom is only a click away. In an age of big ideas, a surrender of your own self-dominion is consent to be taken by every passing wave. With this in mind, it’s critical to remember that these big-thinkers, the creators of our worlds do not always create with good in mind, and even the ones who do are often rotted by the power and authority that comes with it.
It seems that the collective shell-shock has driven our nation in a search for the correct answer, a knockout-punch or silver-bullet that will send us back into something resembling normalcy. Unfortunately, no such thing is coming, and our white-knight does not exist. With this in mind, as is true always in life, we have a choice to make: do we see our problem as growing pains and face them head-on, or do we lie down and die? I don’t know the answer, and I’m betting you don’t either. Sometimes it’s better for things to face their death willingly, to give in to it when they’re too wounded to go on -- but that’s never been in my character, and I hope it isn’t in yours.
In his National Best Seller Creation, Gore Vidal says “impossible questions require impossible answers” -- this, on the origin of human creation itself. It seems to me we’re faced with a few of our own impossible questions, and if we make the decision to not go and blow the whole thing up, there might just be some answers worth discovering.