Now, I’m a patriot. This land is beautiful; I have gone to Utah and looked out across the great red rocks, I have hiked through the Rockies and watched the sun rise from behind Black Mesa, and I’ve driven through northern Delaware, a place rich with lush, green foliage that carries much of our nation’s history. I love this country, and I love Americans.
Now, we’ve done a pretty good job, as nations go. These United States were founded on quite revolutionary principles for the 18th century – that people could be free to pursue life, liberty, and happiness without oppression. That was a big step for humanity, and one that many nations still have yet to come to. But now, however, it’s time for us to take the next step, if we want to persist.
Cultural evolution happens in stages. For America it began with
Stage 1). oppression. Our early colonists are being oppressed by England, getting taxed without representation. At this stage the oppressors’ have power over us. We don’t know what to do. Finally, we decide to start a
Stage 2). war. We find a way to break free. We defeat our oppressors’ power over us. We throw off the tyranny of the British through the Revolutionary War. At this stage, we defeat the oppressors’ power over us. We evolve to the next level, to
Stage 3). live and let live. We are free. We craft a Constitution, outlining inalienable rights which allow us to pursue our own destinies without interference or oppression by others. At this stage, I do me and you do you, and hopefully we can get along.
And, this is where we’ve come as a nation. We’ve gotten through stages 1)., 2)., and arguably 3). And, this is also where we’re stuck.
Stage 3). is all about the self. While it is a not good or bad, if we stay stuck at it we get 265 million people, interested in nothing but themselves, which is essentially what we have right now. We’ve mastered self-concern and providing for ourselves, but this is why we need to evolve: because selfish mortgage lending has led to a crash in our housing market, because the rich have engineered the tax code to ensure that their “freedom to be rich” will not be interfered with, because insurance companies profit by denying to pay for services. No, Americans, it’s time to move up.
Stage 4). Love your neighbor as yourself. It’s time to start taking care of each other, to become interdependent, to build bridges, partnerships, and collectives for the common good. At this stage it becomes a priority to build relationships. We’ve seen the limitations of pursuing our own destinies and we realize that the only way to build a better world is to work in harmony with others.
I have a very short but important story to tell. The other day, when my girlfriend and I came home after swimming at the YMCA, she said, “Shoot, where’s my brown bag?” She had left it in the car. We were both carrying a lot of things into the house, and I thought, “Well, that’s her responsibility,” and it was. It was her bag. However, I changed my mind. I decided to get it for her anyway. Why? Because when we offer to do things for others, even when it’s not our responsibility, we get something more than what we get when we’re just concerned with ourselves – we get relationship, we generate love, trust, and a transpersonal sense of who we are – all of which we are desperately missing in this country today.
Tell me, would mortgage brokers lend to people they knew couldn’t pay, and then package those mortgages in bundles and sell them to banks, if they really loved their customers? Would insurance premiums – car, health, and housing – be so high if Americans en masse trusted one another? Tell me, if the rich knew they were inseparable from other human beings, that those others had divine gifts to give to the world, would the rich move to secure the means to pursue their own gifts without moving to also help others to do the same?
We’re at a critical point in our nation’s history. Our credit rating as a nation was just downgraded yesterday. We’re losing clout in the world. Starting soon people’s Medicare, Medicaid, and education benefits will start to be cut, cut along with the jobs they just lost. Unemployment is at an all-time high. People can’t sell their houses without a loss. What will you do, American?
I recently had a facebook debate with someone near and dear to me. He said, “We as a nation are governed by the Constitution. While we should all care for our neighbors, no one is required to do so, nor should they be. No government mandate is going to solve economic inequality, nor could it.” Thus, am I writing this article for you and me, not for the government. It doesn’t matter what the government does. It shouldn’t matter what the government does, because this is a nation of people, not bureaucrats, and the government is the people. You might argue with that and say the government is no longer legitimate. Then maybe it’s your job to do something about it!
So, American, what will you do for others today? What self-concerned pursuit or way of doing things are you willing to give up to get closer to others today? Who are you willing to give up controlling? What are you willing to give up controlling, so that others may be freer to pursue their inner genius? This is your time, American, to make a divine, lasting contribution. Will you stand together others, or fall, alone?