The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.
Long ago (ancient history), back in the days of King Dubya the Mediocre, a seed was planted in the infertile soil of Republican politics. That seed was the notion that a “real man” always stands by his decisions (his beliefs, his convictions, his ignorance) no matter what. Even in the face of facts and evidence to the contrary, any man who submits to change is unmanly, a waffler, a fool. The seed germinated and grew, spreading across the Republican landscape and beyond, like crabgrass spreading to the neighbors’ lawns.
Thinking, particularly critical thinking, is looked upon with suspicion and considered heretical. People have been made slaves to others’ hatred, beholden to their own ignorance, and held hostage by fear. Yet critical thinking, armed with the weapons of reason, knowledge, and compassion, is what will free America from its bondage and make it great. What was true or imagined as true in the past may not be true today. While we cling to visions of some illusory glorious past, the world has changed and it continues to change.
Change is inevitable, it can’t be stopped. Change is neither good or bad. The qualities of good and evil depend on how we deal with it. But we never stand still. We either move forward or we fall behind. Alarmingly, America is falling behind through our unwillingness to evolve. Evolution is merely change and survival is not guaranteed to the fittest or the smartest. Those who survive change are those most able to adapt to it.
All around the world we see people who are angry, who are lashing out in anger and frustration at a world to which they are unable or unwilling to adapt. Those who are unwilling to adapt or compromise, will find themselves and their institutions facing extinction. This prospect of inevitable extinction makes them cling tighter to the past and lash out with more ferocity.
Money and power will not make America great. They may be factors in our greatness but certainly not the most important ones. True greatness will come from our compassion for ourselves and for others and from our willingness and our ability to face complex challenges in ways that will benefit ourselves and the world as a whole. By benefit, I do not mean profit but benefits to humanity that improve the quality of living (education, health care, employment, representation, and equitable taxation) for all, not just a small, elite percentage.
Building walls and amassing wealth and power will not make America great. These are the very things that are detracting from our greatness and destroying us as a nation. To make America great, we must find our soul and our compassion.