American Exceptionalism Revisited

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and its devastation we’ve witnessed wall-to-wall media coverage of one of the biggest calamities in U.S. history . . . and for good reason. Additionally, we’ve seen and heard countless requests for assistance related to the disaster, and this is as it should be. Given how long the emotional, human, environmental, and economic ramifications and their related need for healing, rebuilding, and recovery, we should continue and expect to hear about this for some time. We have a legitimate need and desire to be kept up to date, as well as find the lessons which might also be gleaned from this unfortunate event.

That said, there is a thorn festering in my side as to why the major news media (owned by six corporations with their own agendas,) totally ignores and/or gives short shrift to far greater disasters impacting millions of our fellow human beings outside of the U.S. This now regular, and certainly not normal, extreme abdication of journalistic responsibility has been grossly magnified by the 24/7 coverage of Harvey, its victims, and its many calls for assistance. Worse, and more telling, this negligent and unbalanced reporting has gone on for years.

Thankfully, the trusted and cherished exceptions to this media disservice are Associated Press, BBC World News America, Democracy Now, NPR, PBS NewsHour, Reuters, and a host of truly fair and balanced news providers. (And if one is an astute news consumer, one fill find even some of these sources give far more coverage to America.) Sadly, when one does not have the curiosity, enlightenment, desire, and/or knowledge to seek them out, (which is unfortunately the case for most citizens,) one will never learn of the disasters beyond the pale and beyond horrific imagination.

For instance, some of these nightmares happening right now:

● In Yemen a famine of biblical proportions is threatening over 7 million people — this, the result of a Saudi intervention, aided and abetted by none other than America (So much for “the greatest country on earth” slogan!)

● In South Sudan, a famine caused by war (yes, a familiar culprit once again,) and drought, has affected over 5 million people, (half the population!)

● In Bangladesh, India, and Nepal there are floods that are beyond belief which have killed over 1,200 people, while displacing millions.

● In Myanmar, over 18,000 Muslims in Myanmar have had to flee violence by making life-threatening journeys into Bangladesh (which is flooded!) And, that choice is like going from the frying pan into the fire, as many have not made that journey alive.

● Afghans and Syrians are struggling to subsist in the face of a seeming addiction to never-ending war in our world

Dare you imagine how we Americans would feel if even a fraction of the devastating circumstances above were happening to us?! What if you and your loved ones were in any of these situations? Then imagine that you knew that the major media in the so-called “greatest” country on earth either did not even mention it on their news, or if they did, it was usually for a fleeting moment, ask if to brush off a pesky fly. Then, add to that fact that no calls for help were going out worldwide to help you. Think about that. Let it sink in. This is how we are treating our fellow human beings, and it is absolutely shameful! Shameful for citizens to ignore it, but absolutely egregious for our media!

These disasters will be news to many who have not heard of them before, (which is highly likely,) since they would need to know how and where to get real news which does not practice the preponderance of American navel-gazing and self-absorption. This now predictable and selfish lens is both dangerous and nauseating. Why? Because we share our planet with other human beings whose suffering should be as important as ours! If we are, or choose to become, conscious human beings, we will learn that we are in this world together, and events causes ripples throughout our world. Until we end our seemingly insatiable killing sprees and hatred of whoever is hatred’s victim du jour, we will continue to see devastation and destruction of our own making. And that of course starts with taking accountability for our behaviors, which takes emotional maturity.

And speaking of emotional maturity, who we call “leaders” in our world begs for serious redefinition! It is surreal to say the least that we have two heads of state acting like unruly, immature toddlers taunting the other to see who has the bigger “toy.” [sic] To say that it is deeply disturbing that these two mad cretins have our survival and that of our planet by the short hairs is terrifying! But I digress!

Though America is often dubbed “the last best hope earth” and “the greatest democracy in the world” anyone who believes this needs to see a shrink! For anyone who has been paying attention, the U.S. has not been functioning as a democracy for many years. Instead, we are governed by an oligarchy which has been around for some time, and is worsening by the day. And to say that this has been exacerbated by the illegitimate “presidency” (with a lowercase p,) served up to us by an archaic and undemocratic Electoral College is an understatement of epic proportions! (I digress again, like a cat having to vomit a hairball.)

So, from whence does the American undeserved self-congratulatory and self-focused nature come? Me thinks it is derived from several origins, among others:

1. The understandable human tendency to concentrate on its own survival and threats to its immediate comfort and security first — this might be a viable explanation, however allowing this to be a fallback for years of disproportionate media reporting is egregious at best

2. An America culture seeped in a delusional American Exceptionalism paradigm, often fomented by the media and Hollywood

3. Predominant major media’s whoring itself to corporate pimps with agendas not in the best interest of the proletariat

4. A “we” vs. “they” paradigm fueled by incessant xenophobic wars against “the other”

Some readers might be thinking “If she doesn’t like living in America, why doesn’t she move?!” I will tell you why: leaving is the easy choice usually taken by cowards who do not have the balls to stand up and fight for a higher vision of what America could be. Remember “the land of the brave?”

Where does this leave us? I suggest that regardless of what faith one does or does not have or practice, what God one does or does not believe in, that we revisit a few maxims shared by many religions and cultures: “love your neighbor as yourself” and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Imagine what our media would look like if we believed and acted upon this, instead of deciding that the suffering some humans is more worthy of coverage and compassion than others. In doing so, this media robs us of our collective humanity and any hope that America may someday be the “last best hope” and “greatest country” on earth!

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Leslie Sheridan is the Publisher & Editor of The Carpe Diem Voice, a free international peace and justice newsletter since 2003, and can be easily found on Facebook if one wishes to subscribe. She is also a published author and poet and has been published by The Huffington Post, Free Press, Medium, Organic Consumers, and Sonoma News Today. In the professional realm, she is a personal development coach, and marketing, sales, and human resources consultant. She makes her home in the greater San Francisco Bay area.

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