Picking a leader for our country is obviously not a simple process, but the fact that our choices narrowed down to someone many do not trust on one hand and a mercurial misogynist in love with fame and capitalism on the other boldly highlights that something is very very wrong. So why did this happen and what do we who fight for fairness and equality and that vision of America we refuse to let go of do now? We are baffled and worried and we are searching for a path toward healing.
Our Administration and Congress are meant to be a reflection of the People. It’s a bottom-up system just as much as it is top-down. Thus, our new “leader” is reflective of the enlightenment and transformation we desperately need. He is an indication that we are suffering as a nation and need to turn things around. Every vague speech he makes that says not much of anything, every inappropriate Cabinet pick, every utterance that contradicts his last is pointing us, practically begging us, toward change. I don’t know where that “tipping point” of recognition is, but I hope we’re getting there sooner rather than later.
We shouldn’t need a money-worshipping tv personality from Queens who has been married thrice and sued countless times to make it apparent to us that our values have been seriously derailed.
How is it that we live in a place of such varied beauty and such a sense of promise, yet there are many among us who lack a secure home life or access to healthy food and have little sense of belonging or hope for the future? People whose entire life has been spent running from single parent to step-parent, dodging drugs, violence or hunger.
Those who are in this kind of pain have few resources at their disposal. It is such an uphill battle… societal stigmas, lack of opportunity, being unseen and unheard, little past success and few role models.
Of course the problems are “those other people”… those who commit the plethora of hate crimes we hear of every day lately, those who keep their head down and do not speak out against unfairness or injustice, and those who make poor choices. These people are not us. They must be from other places and they should be sent back there immediately! They are adversaries, ultimately work for other people – think-tanks and politicians – to figure out what to do with.
What’s going on all of a sudden? These voiceless and unseen people are angry. Their anger breeds even more anger. There is such overwhelming need that is not being met that a cycle has been created that is almost impossible to escape. Yet there are misperceptions underneath their actions. There are reasons for all their struggles.
When one part of our culture is so distraught that they feel unheard and angry, the entire culture is affected.
Lack of hope or belonging, born of pain, can of course lead toward violence and acts of hate. When you despair, do you not (wrongly) try to find someone else to blame for your struggles? These are things that our government most likely cannot change. These need to come from us. We have to learn how to trust one another. We must learn to recognize the suffering in another rather than immediately jump to rage and violence.
It’s almost impossible to believe we are part of the problem, but we must, all of us, set down our anger. Anger stems from deep pain. It rises from insecurities, fear, distress, lack of opportunity, injustice, and hopelessness just as much as it arises from disappointment and the loss of an ideal. We are, all of us, in pain.
Why are we ok going to sleep in our cozy homes when there are those among us who go to sleep under bridges without dinner? Why do we allow such abundance to go to waste when there are many who need what we have? Why do we blame their circumstances on misinformed and unfortunate past choices and hurry away blindly?
I don’t know how to fix it all. In this “rise from your bootstraps” land of opportunity, where self is king and our new leader is greed personified, we don’t have much of an example henceforth for how to reach deep inside and reach out to others. In the past, we have dismissed such disparity and uncertainty and patched together temporary solutions.
We are going to have to process our fears, hold space for grief, honor the imperfections among each one of us. If we are going to cultivate common ground and move forward, we are going to have to be vulnerable, lose the sense indignation and hatred, the us v. them race we are on.
I don’t know what to make of those among us who shake our heads on Facebook at how ludicrous politics in our country has become. Perhaps that is yet another way of seeking a sense of belonging and affirmation that there are others who also see this downward spiral and feel outrage and hopelessness? Pointing out unethical acts may feel like doing something, but it creates a separation between you and “those people” who think or act that way. Highlighting the unlimited foolishness and corrupt behavior in our elected “CEO in chief” is almost like pointing a finger at ourselves and announcing that we don’t get it yet. Sure, we should allow Comedy Central to help us laugh at the senselessness of it all, but the more adamant or righteous we become, the less we are ultimately understanding the current situation.
We do not need new walls; we must build bridges.
I don’t suggest we sit back and let it all fall apart… but I think more effort to understand is called for. As we all grow frustrated and impatient with lack of progress or change, we can all-too-quickly turn to anger or profound sadness. We need to honor each and every individual as a piece of the divine. No one of us is better than any other. We are, all of us, deserving of respect. We are brothers and sisters and we need to start acting like we believe it.
All of what we are seeing is the outcome of so many different problems that I wouldn’t know where to begin. I do know that denouncing violence is not the same as promoting peace, honor, and understanding. Recognizing that someone’s actions must stem from suffering and mistreatment, however, is a beginning.
What comes next? I think there is reason to hope. We must come together with strangers seeking together healing and hope. Until all of us reach deep into society and help one another as if we were all brothers and sisters, as if we have a large stake in each individual’s success in life, until we take responsibility for helping those who struggle to make better choices, eat healthy foods, put in effort at school or work until they can see their own future sitting bright and attractive in front of them, until we feel the pain that they themselves feel every single day, there is little hope that things will change much.
Yes, there is pain, but there is potential as well. It’s hard to see how a transformation could ever come about, but obviously there are pieces of our whole that we had no idea were in such straights. Just as a body cannot function well without a healthy liver or a working heart, our nation must heal itself before it can become great again. It’s only been some 250 years that we have been the U.S. of A, but for thousands of years before that, people have lived on this land in relative peace. We must pause, take deep breaths, and listen to the divisions among us even if we do not understand them.
In order to become “a nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all,” united in action, admired by the rest of the world because we care about that world, we have to think of the highest good for everyone. Our founding parents hoped that we would be a shining example of leadership, guidance, and goodness. We cannot let them down.
There is much good among us already. Let’s find common ground with each other. Let uncertainty be the birthplace of goodness. Let the injustices that shake us lead us to inspired action. Let us keep compassion in our hearts and be conscious of how we treat those who we don’t understand… in our homes and extended families, in our communities, and with those we come into contact with anywhere. Let us show up and help. Let us share our joys and our sorrows and forge new connections. Let us focus on what’s possible rather than what divides us. Let us heal each other. Let us find and lead a better way.
I Am America is an audio and video statement that America can only be what we make it. We can’t afford to be complacent. We must actively pursue justice and equality for all Americans. Share the song and the message…we are America!
Produced by Michael Parnell & Craig Taubman
Written by Jason Chu, Michael Parnell, Stuart K Robinson, & Craig Taubman
Mixed and Recorded by Michael Parnell, Andrew Schwartz & Tom Weir at Studio City Sound by
Video Edit by Stuart K Robinson