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What’s Happening in America? September 12, 2010

Posted by Stephen Dill in Observations.
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I have been wondering why so much disrespect, even hatred, appears to be rising in America, the land of the free, the country that embraced “Send us your poor” for so long, the nation that was founded on religious tolerance and understanding.

What is causing so many people to curse their neighbors, their leaders, even their President? Peace starts within, by first loving our selves. Is all this due to lack of self respect? Do Americans as a whole not feel confident in their own self worth?

To the media: we need to see role models of people who do love themselves and do respect others because they do not need to be defensive. Please, put the light on the right way to live, not the worst-case scenario you are focused on now.

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1. Molly Nelson - September 15, 2010

Hi Stephen,
Not sure that most Americans think they lack self respect, however, we certainly seem to not have a large enough perspective on our lives and how we fit into a global picture. Fear seems to be prevalent in our society, whether the new laws in Arizona or the mosque near ground zero. We don’t seem able to adapt to change and boy are things changing. Glad to know you are making efforts to reboot public education. I agree that is the place to start trying to make things better for our society–making tolerance and acceptance of others a priority.

Stephen Dill - September 15, 2010

Molly,

Thanks for your well-reasoned comments. While it’s true that a poll of Americans would probably show that most are not aware of any self-respect issues, I think the level of obesity, the high susceptibility to marketing messages, and the common occurrence of a hundred other dysfunctional conditions of mind, body, and relationships are indicative of people who deep down inside feel unworthy of respect and love.

This is nothing new, Thoreau wrote of it in “Walden.” Before that and long since hundreds of people who think about what they observe beneath the surface of things—and write about their thoughts (and no doubt thousands more who have not)—have documented this trait of humans. It’s the fundamental rationalization behind religions, nations, unions, and so many other organizations set up to “protect” us. Not knowing we are all one, timeless and eternal, temporarily on this plane as humans to learn what we can, powerful beyond measure and capable of constant peace, we allow our imagined mortality to fuel insecurity and our egos convince us that the best defense is a good offense.

Insightful of you to see the tie to education. Starting “education” (as we call it now, and soon may just call it “living” as it becomes a life-long element of our lives) with teaching parents how to love and respect themselves, each other, and their children will be ultimately more valuable than any SAT-prep course or a doctorate in Physics. Surrounding returning souls (currently referred to as children) in the nurturing environment of respect and empowerment that encourages them to see the world in its truth of unlimited possibilities will yield understanding that will transcend tolerance (which is defined as “putting up with” in too many minds).

Having said all this then, is there a cure for our current predicament? Only within the individual can awareness grow. The challenges that mass consciousness has foisted upon us are centuries in the making. But as with tides there are ebbs and flows; those who are thinking, and there are more every day, need to keep focused on stepping away from ego, understanding Oneness, feeling the perfect health, prosperity, relationships and peace that we all were manifest to express. Gradually the love that conquers all will overcome the egos desperate to keep up an illusion of separation and the hate and aggression will ebb.

Thanks again, Molly, hope we can cross paths some day soon.

Stephen

2. Neal - September 15, 2010

I think the current environment of America is due to the intense resistance to any new group’s establishment, whether it be racial, theistic, or political. The result of this, in my opinion, results in two outcomes: 1. The voice of a group becomes disproportionately dominated by their extremes because the core values of the groups are so similar, and 2. any threat to a new way of doing things or threat to the comfort of the established groups is immediately attacked before a meaningful dialog about the idea/new group/people is had.

How do we solve this problem? Through establishing meaningful communities for individuals beyond their education careers that gives them some stake in the world and preventing stagnancy within these communities. As I approach my graduation from college, I am becoming apprehensive at the thought of not having these tight-nit communities that, in their varying incarnations, are integral to my life and help define it. Without being part of some community it is easy to default to the “not my problem” attitude. That said, it is crucial for the few communities we have to interact in a meaningful way instead of jockeying for political power. How do we do this? In many ways, we achieve a meaningful dialog about what our values are and what goals we have by establishing mandatory mechanisms to mix the pot, if you were, of the group.

The concrete example is this: In politics, there has to be a call for the establishment on term limits for all individuals who hold an office. The precedent of term limits is one of the things that lends the Presidency of the United States it’s legitimacy, but term limits for the president is not enough. Career politicians are detrimental to our society because they have no real connection to the communities they represent. Individuals like John McCaine and Nancy Pelosi are so removed from any real involvement in the community. Should term limits be enacted, new ideas can be tried and there is the guarantee that if something doesn’t work out, things will actually change down the road as a virtue of the new ideas and individuals.

3. Stephen Dill - October 3, 2010

Neal,

Your comments are interesting on a few levels. Resistance to ‘new’—be it ideas or people—is a human trait, and not limited to Americans, much less our century, don’t you think? I am not sure of what you are saying in “The voice of a group becomes disproportionately dominated by their extremes because the core values of the groups are so similar”, but I certainly have seen the defensive reactions of groups to perceived encroachment. But again, that his human and has been going on for ages.

I do believe you are on target with your approach of establishing communities, though I have seen education become the catalyst for the conversations that enlighten. I suspect the individual’s motivation to improve is what makes them willing to enter into an environment that may include people of other cultures, religions, languages, or affiliations. That speaks of volunteer, or adult education more so than elementary, but it happens every day in the secondary education you are about to leave, doesn’t it?

One of the strengths of the idea of life-long learning proposed in http://www.allnewpubliceducation.com is the understanding that will come from ‘forced’ exposure to other cultures inherent when classes throughout our lives will be made up of ad hoc collections of people sharing a common interest and, more often than not, connected over the Web, rather than geographically local. Agreed, isolation can breed the “not my problem” attitude you are concerned about, but the answer is to lead by example. Keep yourself immersed and involved in groups that are made up of “spanners,” people who come from differing backgrounds, ages, genders, faiths, and whose differing points of view encourage you to be open and receptive to seeing the world through their lens. When you come up against a friend or neighbor who is suffering from insular, protectionist views, invite them into one of your groups. If they do not accept the invite, pay no attention to that, continue to be the friend, but continue to model the behavior you would like to see in them.

It has been written throughout time: ultimately peace begins in you, Neal, as counterintuitive as that may seem. Leading world change is an internal job conducted by more and more people until we all recognize that we are one, we are all valuable, we are all contributors, and those who are not are to be understood, valued, and nurtured to see their inner light, rather than ostracized, corralled, segregated or “cured.”

As for term limits, it seems to me a Band-Aid on a gushing head wound. Better that we all focus on our own mental state than to frustrate ourselves trying to change other’s minds. The systems will follow once the consciousness is raised. That’s my opinion, what’s yours?


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