America has stood out from the world as a special place of wealth and opportunity. With only two neighbors and two giant oceans on either side, we’ve known America to be a special place in the world and have boasted about it for a century. Then why do we tear ourselves apart?
America has a great flaw. Great athletes, artists, musicians all know what it is (even if they claim not to). It is success that can tempt a person or a people into complacency, risk aversion, and an over-abundance of resources. A lack of resources is the breeding ground for resourcefulness and innovation. The concept of unearned success is one of the main driving force of left-wing criticism (or at least it was until fat shaming and slut shaming became the next moral crusade for upper class white liberals). Our obsession with “privilege” is a symptom of this way of thinking.
Growing up in the 90s, the message delivered to young people a world struggling outside our borders, especially in places like Asia and Africa (but not exclusively). This may have been true in a lot of ways, but if the intended result was to instill humility and gratitude for what we had, it was a complete and total failure. We take almost everything we have today for granted. At some point, the social benefit of denouncing your own country, and not valuing what you have, became the standard for righteous living in the greatest land on earth.
Our culture is completely self-loathing and self-destructive. As a people, we no longer grapple with the kinds of problems humanity dealt with hundreds of thousands of years. Over one generation (the hippie generation) the Western World managed to escape the terrors of the natural world through great success. Only a fool would think we were ready to handle such a change in so short a time. It’s seemingly driven us mad as we burn cities for 6 months over one bad cop and a man high on fentanyl, as we celebrate all things ugly like morbidly obese women in Calvin Klein ads, and as we play god with racial and sexual power games. Where is this all headed? Is there hope?
America, like the individual, is in need of competition. Without it, we will continue to self destruct. We have been peerless in our endeavors for too long. If we can not teach ourselves to adopt gratitude and drop the shame, it seems like the only cure left is for the rest of the world to catch up. If America can get over itself and realize the world is a competitive place, that is the day America can start injecting rocket fuel into its veins again.