Smile, Please

Hi, Boomers,

Wow! Long time no hear from me. Jeezzz. I must be out of my mind. I must be nuts. I take on a new career as a public speaker and I am consumed by planning, organizing, detailing, and memorizing the speech, working on the website and just getting overwhelmed. I wish the federal government worked as hard making some progress on its inability to make decision and plan for a future in which my sons and grandchildren can receive the full benefits of being an American.
No one smiled in my classes last week. It was really grim. It began with a precipitous fall in the stock market on Monday: down, up, down,up, down, up. It didn’t matter that my students weren’t invested in the market. No 401k for the students, but surely staff and faculty had some savings for the future. The collective unconscious of the nation is surely in an unhappy and, dare I write, confused state. But our malaise goes deeper than Wall Street.
We used to be able to fix things in the good old U.S. And we used to be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys. We used to be able to count on people who did the right thing. We used to be able to speak from truth and not from hyperbole and outright lies. When did facts become irrelevant? When did learned men become the butt of jokes? When did elected officials ignore voters who say they want those in government to act like grown ups and speak with true authority based on information, on facts, instead of fabricating scenarios that fit their personal beliefs and political ideology.
It’s hard to smile while we lose our future. It feels as if the collective unconscious is beginning to actually mourn for a past that seemed to hold more promise than either the present or the future.
I think today I heard something so arrogant and judgmental from Michelle Bachman that for the first time I was put on notice that freedom could be put on trial and now I’m not smiling. Mrs. Bachman, who just won the Iowa straw poll, was questioned on “Meet The Press” by David Gregory about not just her belief that raising the debt was a mistake without thought to what would happened on the globally (she also ridiculed the secretary of the treasury and, of course, President Obama for getting it all wrong – everyone gets it wrong but her), but also about her belief that gays are somehow not really valuable humans; they are rather a sub species who need conversion not just to the heterosexual lifestyle but to her idea of the Christian way of life. It’s her way or the highway. If only we could hear God whisper in our ear and tell us what to do we could be on her same page. I wondered if she became president all gays would be isolated in society, maybe interned in lifestyle camps until they mended their ways and turned straight. She actually believes that being gay is a disorder.
She and her husband are scary people. Dr. Bachman’s clinic encourages discouraged/ isolated/confused gays to get help for their sexual orientation and become straight, which suggests that they are not good enough the way they are. If she becomes president, don’t be surprised if “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which was repealed recently, will return with a vengeance.
Why is there no outrage? Or maybe there is and the anger is internalized. I’m not particularly proud of what our country is doing because it doesn’t stand for the values I thought we had. We seemed to have lost our compassion, our empathy, and in its place, some elected officials and those who are running for office with millions of dollars behind them spout platitudes with no real way to implement sound ideas.
Where is the truthful vision for America? We got off track in America – Wall Street greed, two wars, outsize spending, devaluing of education, lack of job creation, not helping those who cannot help themselves, stripping social services – but did we lose all the problem solvers along with our values?
One thing I regret about America. We’ve lost historical perspective and we stopped listening to wise men, and instead we bought in to simplistic jingoism. This is certainly not the 21st century I envisioned.
Are we ever going to smile again?
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