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America, the land of exceptionalism

I believe many Americans feel they are not accorded their right as American citizens to live at the top of the heap in this world. Still, people from many parts of the world come here penniless and own their own homes within a short period of time. How does that happen?

I’ve lived among extremes at the other end of the spectrum. With aborigines in Asia of the 1960s, I noted people who expected very little from any government. They were fairly happy with little crime, enough food, and a lot of honesty. Admittedly that is an extreme. It is not in any way what the typical American can imagine as his future. We generally expect to be on top.

Living with Chinese overseas was a bit different. I’ve seen their expectations of government. Most do not count on government to help them. They work, hustle and go after education with a vengeance.

As a young American living outside the fishbowl in those days, those experiences helped me look at my own goals and what would constitute “quality of life” for me when I returned to the United States.

When I finally found myself in a family situation, it was from some of those Third World experiences that helped us build our lives. No mortgages and little debt. Using our own trees, stone and labor to build. Our kids grew up involved in that process. Whether they do it themselves some time in the future, they now know it is possible and, in fact, practical in many cases. Do you seriously think most Americans today believe they can do that themselves?

On my way home from Asia in the 1960s, I spent some time in India. It was an amazing country. At the time, I was shocked by the wealth. I expected the death, the poor, etc. I noted a society with many cultures, languages and much strife among the races, religions, and castes. India was heavily involved in nuclear science for the purpose of war as well as power and had ghettos that made ours look like suburban communities in comparison. And there was religious extremism.

Today, India is still, by and large, a country of extremes with the absence of a large middle class of people who share values. They are also very hard workers and believe in education. Interestingly, India is beginning to move toward a larger middle class as the global economy changes things there.

Also interesting, the U.S. is moving away from the large middle class with shared values and toward some of the extreme differences culturally and economically. Admittedly, we have quite a ways to go, but the change has begun. Have you looked at the want ads in many newspapers in America lately?

Have you ever thought about what it would take to bring back the strong values and ethic that enabled the U.S.A. to succeed so wildly in defining what people all over the world wanted?

At this point in time, I do believe good leadership is necessary to simply begin the process of change in our society. It would only be a beginning. Without this leadership, we will continue to regress toward something else. Think about what has happened in this country in the past few years, as well as the series of economic and environmental disasters basically caused by greed.

How involved or advanced must these events be before Americans recognize the process and then take action to effect changes? Our government, at least our federal government, has not been able and/or willing to lead this effort on our behalf. Many of our national leaders are career people who will not take those kinds of chances with their employment and are more loyal to their particular political fantasy.

They are not in front of us. They are behind us testing the wind. So, where am I going with this little dissertation?

The answer is to vote. Not for a party — either one — by party block vote, but for individuals first — independents, party members, it does not matter. Vote for those who are open about who they are and what they will do. Fact check them through reliable, unbiased sources. Be very careful of those who try to please you by agreeing with your religious and political beliefs and also be very careful of those whose only calling in life is to remain in high elected office.

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