Be aware this a total rant blog, I mean I go at it hard!
As a young man raised in a small community in a semi-rural town in America I was raised with some basic rules of thumb.
1. America is the best place to live
2. Capitalism makes the world work, and other forms of socio/economic fundamentals are wrong.
. Christianity is the only religion worth believing in, as you go to hell if you are not a Christian.
These were not things that my parents taught me, or were forced upon me by anyone person, it’s the general feeling you get when you live in a city of “Good ol boy” types, good Christians who work hard, and the richest people in the town really aren’t that rich. A very Midwestern middle class city, and lucky enough to come from a home that was blessed to not have suffered any big financial issues, and a neighborhood that was filled with homes of very similar people.
So as I entered High School and began to go down a path of “free thinking” (or as my favorite eccentric English teacher would call it “THINKING” ) Some things became clearer to me. If you are not Christian, you don’t go to hell. Sorry to the bible beaters, but I cannot believe that more than 70% of the worlds population will go to hell because they believe different from you, especially since Christianity is so young compared to many other faiths (Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, etc). I also went through a change in what I considered social normality’s as I found that I was a homosexual. But lets keep moving.
I began to see lots of strife in America as I went to college, and then left college to experience ‘real life’. I could see people being treated wrong, persecuted for their beliefs, their race, their sexuality. I could see a disparity between the rich and the poor. I began to see that America was great, but not the greatest country in the world. I moved to Hawaii thinking maybe the distance would help, but it was still America. Here is where I began to really want to see a change in American policies and attitudes. I wanted America to be this great country we thought we lived in, one where we truly are treated as equals, where we the people make decisions in a democratic and united way. One where hate and bigotry were obsolete. I could see Americans take a step forward and then one back, and wondered how this would all end up.
Then tragedy ensued, the financial crisis of 2008. I endured this as many Americans did, however, the chaos of the crisis had me moving back home, and instead of continuing on in my profession (which had lost all its glory in the face of –you guessed it- capitalism) and I returned to college. Now was a critical time for America, we elected a black man president, a man who promised us many things, financial reform, free rights for all people, healthcare reform. I thought great things were coming to America, maybe the things I hoped for would come true. So far we have seen some steps in what I believe are the right direction. #1 being the biggest reform to healthcare seen in the US in years. We have seen some big moves by the US people to hold the banking system accountable (although I think the changes were not enough) And at this time I began to get really in to my Urban Planning Major. Here Socialism began to rear its ugly head at me again. We had discussed Socialism in High School in our American Government Class. In HS Socialism was taught to us as a failed system of socio/economic planning that leads to a downward spiral towards communism and chaos. However my time in the world had taught me to discount this theory. Even in Hawaii, where we were still part of the US, a small piece of socialism had crept in. Anyone employed had to carry healthcare. Surprisingly, the healthcare was good, and affordable, mainly because more people were forced to carry this important insurance.
I find that as I get older, and things like school, and healthcare, and even social welfare programs mean more to me. I find that I believe this country formed our Government to help ourselves. I would like to think that man is placed here to help one another, that we all belong to one vast system of life, and our actions to help others in this life is what will decide our fate in the life after. I believe it is our duty to work together to better ourselves, and to learn from one another and that this learning will help us become a great people, one capable of mighty deeds, one able to offer freedom to all people, one that will end poverty and strife, but the thing that I see standing in our way is very powerful and has already sunk its teeth very deeply into the hearts and minds and souls of many people. Not just Americans, but many people of many countries. I see that evil manifested often in capitalism and the drive to “own”. We have become slaves to the all-mighty dollar, and have forgotten that there is more to ourselves than what we own. How can we compete with something as powerful as this? I see socialism as the possible end to this. I think I see many young people starting to think this way as well. We have become more conscious of our Earth and we seem determined to save it, to stop causing damage and begin to repair this damage. I think this love for the planet can be expanded to a love of people as well, and as we age and begin to take our places in society and our governments I hope we will be able to effect these changes.
In Star Wars Episode 3 Padme says to Anakin, “What if the democracy we thought we were serving no longer exists, and the Republic has become the very evil we have been fighting to destroy?” I often wonder if this has not happened in America. After WWII We helped many countries to build just democratic states that are oddly socialist, and yet we never seemed to go that direction, in fact I believe that capitalism thrived on the downfall of these countries and grew like a virus during the time we should have been continuing to look inward and restructuring ourselves to some of these ideas.
So I will continue to learn and watch and hope that we as a country will continue to work on ourselves and become more than we are.