We're always hearing about "American Values." I once thought I knew what at least some of them were, although I admit that my porthole view is based pretty much entirely on the era in which I grew up, and in the places.
We take care of our own with safety nets and don't rely on the whims of the charitable to do that for us. We offer opportunity for those willing and able to see it and use it. We don't mind rich people, but we'll throw bricks when their greed gets so overwhelming that we can feel their heels on our throats.
We mine, we make things, we think things up, we farm and we try to do it in ways that don't hurt us or others. Mostly.
We take care of our friends around the world when they need us and ask for our help. And we don't expect our generosity to be repaid at high interest, if at all.
We don't care where you go to church or if you don't. We're learning not to hate you because of your skin color though some of us do better than others.
We value intelligence. We don't lionize ignorance and stupidity.
We aren't perfect and we know it. We believe that "no man is an island," even if we never heard of John Donne.
And we know that lifting yourself by your own bootstraps violates the laws of physics, even if we don't know the laws of physics.
We've always had our hucksters and con men and crooked financial types. We've always had bum politicians (is that redundant?) and bad teachers and medical phonies and sellers of snake oil. We’ve had hysterical preachers thinking in tongues and raking in millions.
But it's only recently that we have ceded control of our lives to them. We hear them yelping about keeping the government out of our lives -- except our bedrooms.
We hear that our push to reduce remote-control violence is born not of a respect for life but of a fear of firearms.
And they use our terms to beat us senseless. Freedom of choice (except for abortions.) Freedom of action (but let’s build even more prisons.) Freedom of speech (as long as you have the money to buy it.) Freedom of belief (except some of you.) Freedom of religion (but not FROM it.)
What has happened here?
Obsession with celebrity. Obsession with sports.
And worst of all, obsession with making ends meet, born of necessity. So much of our limited attention needs to be focused on survival there’s little left for anything else, and no energy.
The unnecessary unemployment crisis. Stealth inflation at the supermarket, the gas station and the heating fuel supplier. No matching increase in wages. Stealth inflation in taxes (except for corporations and high figure “earners.”)
Are we heading down the highway toward making things worse? Yes, not only heading down the highway, but heading down the Autobahn where there is no speed limit.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2014