Today I want to highlight another great blog that came across my desk…..and like all things it connects back to the one discussed yesterday (see: Transcending Polarization).

In his article, writer John Perkins asks the question “What Will Make American Great?”

Our knee jerk reaction is that “America is already great, buddy! How can you say we’re not great?”

He answers us with this question:

“Is a country great if:

  • Three individuals in that country have as much wealth as half the rest of the population?
  • Forty million people in that country live at or below the official poverty rate?
  • The country claims to be a democracy but nobody can run for national public office without raising a fortune from rich people and/or corporations?
  • Its medical health care systems rank last in the world among countries with similar GDPs per capita?
  • More than 50% of its discretionary budget goes to the military – much of it for outdated weapons in an age of cybernetics – and it spends about 10 times as much money on the military as its primary rival, Russia?
  • Its leaders continually lie to its citizens about extremely important issues (e.g. weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, climate change, immigration, the personalities and policies of leaders in other countries, etc.)?
  • It separates children from their parents in prison camps, builds walls to keep out immigrants, and condemns those immigrants as criminals, instead of helping countries develop vibrant economies by reversing trade and corporate policies that have contributed to the economic decline, violence and desperation?
  • Sixty of its biggest companies did not pay federal taxes in 2018 despite making billions of dollars in profits (these include Amazon, Netflix, General Motors, IBM, Chevron, Eli Lilly, Delta, Occidental Petroleum, Honeywell, Prudential, Halliburton, Whirlpool and Goodyear)? and . . .”

NOTE: If you question any of his facts and figures, go to his website where he links in references to support them.

However, we don’t have to argue over America’s “greatness”…that’s a distraction. What I think we can easily agree upon is that America is not living up to its highest vision of its possibilities. America is not exhibiting its highest democratic principles. We can do better.

I know that I love the United States and know that it can and has been a shining example of what is possible to the world. I also know that somewhere along the way we have allowed ourselves to be sidetracked from our highest potential.

We used to be a country that tackled issues head on. We debated them and crafted a solution which we then implemented. Things weren’t always perfect….but they were closer to a “more perfect union” than we are experiencing currently.

In yesterday’s blog, I pointed out (in summarizing an article by Charles Eisenstein) that “Our polarized debate on most issues gets framed around certain symptoms (and generally in a false either-or forced choice kind of way) rather than getting at root causes.” and that ” The fury that envelopes us debating polarizing opinions on symptoms traps us in a way that keeps us from looking at root causes where we might find much to agree upon.”

Perkins gets to the same general conclusion when he writes that “If we truly want to be a great nation then we must stop denying our shortcomings, cease to blame the Russians, Chinese, immigrants, and any “others” who conveniently enter our sights, and we must buckle down to the job of serving as a model for the world. We must get back onto the path of environmental sustainability, social justice, compassion, and economic wellbeing for all; we must carry the torch down that path. Only by leading the way will we make America great.

The fact is: we have serious issues facing our country no matter how “great” we are…..yet the only way to address those issues is to stop denying they exist, to stop blaming others, to let go of our attachments to our way of seeing things as being the only way to see it and to seek solutions that address the needs of all.

If we want to create a world that works for all, we must begin in our own backyard (as Americans) and create a country that works for all.

What do you think?

Mark