I am wholly convinced that the idea of “civil freedom,” in regards to those belonging to either a sexual or racial minority, has significantly changed throughout the past few decades. While many on the conservative right may wish not to acknowledge this reality, many on the liberal side of the matter do an equally poor job of adequately making the case.

While the oppressions that many experienced all of a half a century ago were ones of a social, physical, and sometimes violent nature, we have rightfully so fought to minimize this sort human degradation in our society. The unfortunate side-effect of this reality has lead many to believe that we are indeed living in an “evolved” world where racism and sexism exist only in the smallest of vacuums.

But what of “the problems of the mind?” Considered the last and most neglected vestiges of the American frontier, perhaps all us find ourselves trapped within our cultural legacy of empowerment and struggle. The belief is simple: The Quiet American is defined by our ability to overcome any and all obstacles. Our cultural narrative is one filled with men of “low status” creating million-dollar lemonade out of dollar-bin lemons.

This narrative unfortunately has now imbued the average American with the misbelief that anybody, regardless of creed or color, who cannot improve upon their station in life as committing a failure of morality. The possiblity of social victimhood, no matter how obvious, is rarely validated. Sympathy is to be had only for those who are visibly making a show of effort (regardless of the actual effectiveness or value of said effort).

Our attitudes towards mental aptitude are at their most apparent with our casual regard, or often disregard, of mental handicaps, disabilities and ailments. Common depression and anxiety are often seen as, again, moral failures and not structural ones. It is of little wonder then that most within our society find little empathy with the psychological assault that most ethnic and sexual minorities must experience on a daily basis.

If one is born into the reality that you are of little worth, where does one go to find a society who is sympathetic towards your unworthiness? It is quite evident given today’s cultural rhetoric that while many today are born into economic poverty, it seems that it is indeed only the Quiet Americans who are born into a poverty of self.