We Are Them: Self-awareness is not an American practice
America isn’t a Christian nation, it is a capitalist society that is unified by cultural practices of consumption whether food or television and movies. We put things into the world to be consumed, and attempt to wrap ourselves in something heavier than consumption, like moral righteousness, not realizing that much like food feeds our bodies, our consumption feeds our national character — and clearly not all that we consume is nutritious. And no shawl of religious affinity actually sinks in and permeates the vital organs, we just have people who like the look of themselves in that shawl, because that is all they know how to do — visually consume, not internalize and materialize the meaning in the physical body. It takes considerable effort to change ones body and mind — whether the lessons of stories enduring or novel, or to become strong and solid. It, most of all, takes discipline. Discipline is what we know the current President lacks. Discipline is seen in so many Americans who have to keep themselves to an incredibly narrow budget, those who are working and parenting and trying to study as well so they can make a little bit more for their family to have. They have to have a car, because there aren’t any jobs close to where they can afford to live, or there isn’t any alternative than a car to get them there. (Or they have to have a car, because they like cars, or because that’s what you do.) So they are tied to a massive piece of machinery that sucks valuable resources regularly and irregularly from its fuel consumption, insurance (if they can afford it), and then a timing belt goes.
We worship that which we can own and yet we’ve seen that ownership isn’t as important as it once was. Yes, ownership of country, ownership of our homes, ownership of our education, ownership of our future. But also ownership of a car, of an approved belief system, of a television and of a moral code. Morals are personal and they are universal, they are this unique paradox of those things that are right on the surface and then the caveats that we come to accept. Killing is wrong, but for food and punishment for those who kill maliciously. Freedom of religion, so long as its the ones we all are vaguely familiar with. Freedom of speech, but if you offend me I can threaten your life and compromise your digital identity and financial future. We want what we’ve always thought we were entitled to, but if someone else gets “special treatment” then it is an assault on our narrow definition of fairness. Fairness here is based on entitlement, but someone actually getting something that you thought you were due and they must have cheated. Sore winners.
The land of this country was stolen from the people that lived here before us, and a strong economy was built on the labor of enslaved human beings. We continue to spit on and disregard the history and lasting impact of our foundation. America always moves and incorporates the culture of those it’s exposed to, mostly without any self-awareness. All the while feeling righteous for being so special and unique, not acknowledging what it is about us that makes us unique, not letting go of bygone eras mentality whether of cowboys in the Wild West or picket-fenced quiet suburban development where anyone could be ratting someone else out for being friendly with the wrong kind — be it Jewish/black/communist/Italian/hippies/punks/…whatever the top 5 of the most “them” at the time were.
We are them. We are the good guys and the bad guys. We are the hypocrites and the faithful. We are extraordinary because we keep trying to make that word mean what it says: we.