What is this country about?

To our good friends–

I have been drawn to ask if a poet would ever consent to being President of the United States. Is this nation ready for such a reflective time? Presently not, but things can change on a dime. But for how long? 9-11 brought us to a reflective, community-mindedness, but only for a few weeks. Then the President started beating the war and consumerism drums.

What if instead he had put on sackcloth and ashes? What if he had brought us to a reflective state of mind? What if the voices of consumerism and hate had stayed quiet a year longer?

Might creativity have been given a chance?

To what extent was the manipulation the source of what happened next, and would it have been possible to turn the attention a better direction? Or at least had a debate about where the attention should go?

Sure it is natural to have a “Let’s get the bastards” reaction. But it is also natural to step back and see if there is a better way, a longer view, a more loving view, consistent with the soul of this country.

What is this country about? What is our vision? What is our place in the world? Is it purely economic, the land of plenty? Or is there something more here?

What is this notion of freedom? What is this notion of democracy? What is this notion of a republic?

Our recent emphasis on the economic, probably dating from 1929, has narrowed our horizons, and has led to our current desire for security. We are trying to preserve what we have and have lost the who we are. We have confused the what we are about with the what we have.

War? Terrorism? They are cut from the same cloth. There have for all recorded history been criminals, those who try to take what belongs to others. Terrorism gives us a label by which to demonize criminals and allows us to cast a net that is at times wider than necessary.

The power of this label derives from what it plays upon—our fear. Fear of what? Ahh, that they do not say, for to say it would take away its power over us, and consequently the power from those who seek to wield it.

For the Fear they purvey is fear of losing our stuff and our perceived superiority because of our stuff. People who look or sound different would have to be met toe to toe, hand grasp to hand grasp. We might no longer be richer than they. We might no longer have our excess stuff. We might lose our identity as the land where people have more than enough stuff. We might also lose our identity as the most over-stressed, under-relaxed, over-medicated, over-busy people in the world.

:- Doug.

Published in: Conversations | on May 15th, 2006 | No Comments »

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