This is not the country I left.
I mean, I’m not a snob enough to believe that the entire world revolves around me and that, after being away from the United States on and off for the last 11 1/2 years, I wouldn’t expect it to change, but I felt it would change for the better.
The last few times we have journeyed here, less and less shops are open. The economic market has kept creeping down. People seem to be less optimistic, more in “survival mode”, struggling to get by day-to-day with overwhelming medical bills, litigation, legislation, and so on.
I had a professor at university, well-versed in Shakespeare and many other classics, who warned, “The US is demonstrating the same signs as the last days of the Roman Empire.” At the time, being young, full of hormones and anarchy and anger, I thought that was kinda exciting. I’ve always held that thought in the back of my head as time crept by, and, being a somewhat outside observer on a country I used to live in — growing older and more mature and less angry across the world’s largest ocean away — I sadly see the US sliding into that phrase. Infrastructure is failing. Large companies are polluting rivers, lakes, atmosphere, environment. Recycling is huge but the waste of power, water and other resources is astronomical as well. The Powers That Be are too busy bickering over how much to pay themselves and what pet projects to fund, not how to keep bridges from collapsing and other more important matters. The senators and governors and president and advisers all seem more interested in their own personal interests and bickering with one another than working together to find a way to make things work for the people they represent.
And isn’t that kinda what happened in Rome? Isn’t that what George Lucas warned a bit about in the latest Star Wars movies? That inaction and in-fighting can cause slow the political machine down enough to let one, or a group of, dangerous person, or people, take control?
And people here (as well as around the world) seem to be politically uninterested, unable to say to politicians, “you know, enough is enough. Stop regulating our lives to every breath we take and get on and work on the big issues.” Maybe being in fight-or-flight mode does that to you, burying your head in the sand, or maybe real life is more interesting, or maybe we’ve all become so apathetic towards politics and moreso politicians that we’d rather bitch and moan (when we can be bothered) and get on with our own lives and hope and pray the politicians make the right choices in the end, and the media (more and more sensationalist as each day creeps on to the point where we sometimes don’t know what the truth actually is), we hope, keep them honest. Maybe most people believe (somewhat like I do) that most politicians no longer represent the people and their voices (like they were meant to) but their own personal interests and the interests of those who support them financially than those they were elected to represent. And how sad is that?
I think America, like New Zealand, has such an opportunity to be great again. Where is the American Dream? The one I remembered when I was a child?
And why aren’t more people standing up and asking the hard questions of the people representing them?