And how to reunite to Make America Truly Great
It’s the Fourth of July, Independence Day, for all to celebrate freedom, democracy, American exceptionalism, pride, and patriotism. Except, that, for some people, more divided as a nation than any other time since the 1960’s, celebration seems a stretch.
In the 1960’s, our nation was united against the USSR.
That focus got us to the moon. It provided a very convenient scapegoat on the world stage. It justified Vietnam, and it helped launch the greatest counterculture of the 20th century. Thank the cold war, at least in part, for rock and roll, the moon landing, the hippies, the civil rights movement, women’s liberation, the environmental movement, the sexual revolution, mind-expanding drug experimentation (didn’t always promise a good trip) and more than we can even imagine.
Yesterday, as the movie and Beatlemania attests, prompts a wishful nostalgia. We might ask of America, the exploding with progress, cool lady we all loved: “Why she had to go, I don’t know, she wouldn’t say…”
I think she left because people really need a good scapegoat, Russia provided that, we got science, and progress, and prosperity out of the deal. Then we collectively took it all for granted and began the more selfish pursuits of wealth for the few and stagnation for the rest. Even science investment died off. This is a huge tragedy.
In the Vietnam era, people of color were asked to serve their country in a questionable war, while inequality was rampant. Women joined the workforce out of necessity, but also because they demanded the choice to do so. The principles of ecology were explored because pollution — everyone agreed — was wrong. All of this ties into how so many mini revolutions wove in and out of one another until just about everything about the 1950’s was gone in a poof of rocket smoke.
Today, we are trying to make America great again. I think this means getting back to how we are able to unite to take on tremendous challenges. Our scapegoats cannot be one another, but the challenges we face. But, then, people start fighting about which challenges.
Immigration reform is important. Healthcare reform is important. Income, and a living wage, is important. Equality, for minorities and women, is important. Science and technological tools that advance us while protecting our privacy is important. Having an effective military, to defend us these challenges, is important.
And, let’s not forget the biggest, endangered elephant in the room: Earth, and our supportive biosphere’s sustainability, is important.
Fortunately, for America, (and indeed the whole world) all these issues come down to one. If we seek to create the technology, innovation, sense of fairness, love of liberty, democracy, and protection of a beautiful environment, we need only to unite to protect one another and our world.
Protecting Earth means creating green jobs, supporting green infrastructure, setting up programs to promote climate justice, inviting asylum seekers to serve fairly in the process, and to recruit boys and girls to advance STEM, AI, tech tools, and communications in all levels of education.
From water quality in Flint, Michigan, to using biometrics to help endangered species, health issues are directly intertwined with climate action. Women’s health issues, including the right to reproductive care is important. So, too, are income equality programs, greening our cities and agricultural needs, staffing millions of new alternative energy jobs, and paying people to take pride in everything from planting trees, to reforming recycle programs. Health, income, justice and energy are all fragments of one big push for an ambitious shot to bring us BACK to the Earth before the next decade is out.
We are a divided nation, but I think at America’s core, there is common ground. People really do take pride in making a difference. Who grumbled at the moon landing, and said “That’s stupid?” No one thought taking on an achievement like that was a waste of time.
Now we are at an even more critical crossroads in history. I think America is great, and we will rediscover our greatness if we only remember our shared values, and hold a steel grip on them while everything around us shakes and shudders like a rocket shooting for the stars.
We value equality, we cherish hope, and we love freedom. We also value work hard, and we can do this.