This was the title of an article written by an intellectual friend, an Iranian-American neuro- surgeon, Dr. Kazem Fathi , in an Iranian Medical Journal some twenty years ago. I, too, thought the article portrayed a pessimistic view of our world, but the turn of events since then has only given it even more credence.
To begin with, I am an optimist by nature, but I like to be known as a realist. I believe in a ‘stitch in time’ approach in addressing each problem instead of procrastinating. Our world is sick because we have chosen to sweep our problems under the rug and optimistically assume that they go away. But the reality is that they don’t.They just accumulate unless we act. Have you heard of the Persian words of wisdom to the effect that you can reclaim a dam more by repairing the small leaks than waiting until the whole dam is broken? Here I will discuss how this procrastination has made not only America, but the whole world sick.
Specifically, I concentrate on gradual damaging of America’s global image as this country let the fruits of its unique revolution such as its Constitution, Bill of Rights and the ideals whither way. These fruits needed constant public participation to stay alive. Thomas Jefferson said, “Heaven forbid if this country goes without another revolution for twenty years.” Perhaps he did not mean a drastic revolution, but a constant vigilance of the people. Later on in 1790 J.P. Durran offered another warning, “The condition upon which God has given us liberty is eternal vigilance.” As a voracious readers these men knew that many empires in so called “Cradles of Civilization” had become the Graveyards of Empires due to apathy and complacency that naturally follow prosperity in a human society.. As Erick Fromm said, “The world is graveyard of empires that did not meet the challenge of their time.”
The uniqueness of the American Revolution was its attempt to educate and inform the public that would lead to the formation of government of the people instead of education for the elite and the government of a few by and for a few as it existed all through mankind’s history. Jefferson was aware of potential power of an educated public as backbone of democracy. To meet that challenge, Jefferson fathered the system of public education that spread like lightening not only in America, but throughout the world. Jefferson knew that colonialism’s biggest nightmare was public enlightenment because this would hinder their exploitation. Jefferson said, “Those who expect to be ignorant and free, expect what there never was and never will be.” In other words, prerequisite for preservation of America was an informed and educated public.
A close look at the American history reveals that its founders were among the most learned, ethical and civic conscious men just like some other nation builders throughout the long history of the world. The founders believed in effective education that, in addition to facts included a strong sense of ethics. On top of these they themselves lived exemplary lives as much as humanly possible. Some would go as far as risking their own lives in defense of truth. Hence the saying, ‘the truth made us free.’ These men were serious in suppressing or putting an end to colonialism, hypocrisy, ignorance, injustice. and greed.
Indeed, with the exception of natural calamities, bringing up the evil side of human beings by the war mongers have brought more terror, death and destruction to our world than other creatures including the beasts, for, the beasts never kill their own kind more than their fill, whereas uneducated and unethical humankind can and have killed and are killing their own kind. with or without reason or by resorting to lies and alibis. The bottom line is that the founders believed in inherent goodness of humankind. They knew that human beings are born with an instinct to destroy each other and would so unless that instinct was suppressed by effective education, ethics and good role models.
Alas, the power of hypocrisy that was opposed to the American Revolution ever since its inception, slowly but surely ate at the foundation of this nation like termites. The benign hypocrisy that was in nature of human beings went unchecked and became runaway hypocrisy that has and is resorting to every conceivable means to undo the American Revolution by making a mockery of all of its components, that is, education, ethics and exemplary life. It is bankrupting America and demoting it from the leadership to laughing stock of the world. America’s domestic and global problems have become so huge that it has gone to the state of denial rather than admitting.
This undoing of the American Revolution and global disturbance could be explained by citing a Persian saying as muddying the fish pond or using explosives to confuse the fish in order to catch more without regard for the stress on the fish, the pond and the environment.
Hypocrisy, ignorance, arrogance and greed have left such permanent scars on America that nothing short of a drastic public awakening can restore and reclaim it. It should be emphasized that this destructive force has reached its an astronomic proportion during the past six years. Let us look at a few of these destructive forces in America;
The public education has changed from the best in the world to one of the worst, with severe deficiency in math, science, history, humanities and the rest. The decent American public has heard so many lies that has become the most apathetic with one of the lowest voter turnouts in the world. They have been so demoralized that they have resorted to excessive indulgement and substance abuse-number one in the world, over-eating, shop til you drop, just to get away from realities that they cannot make sense of. The young people have refused to be drafted to fight wars that drains the nations’s resources and negatively impacts their lives. The social security is on the verge of bankruptcy and some fifty millions are without health care and of course, the skyrocketing national debt. The government is a role model for deficit spending and calls itself the richest while it is the biggest debtor nation in the world!
The extent of corruption of public funds is so widespread that more and more decent individuals, companies and corporations resort to cheating on their tax returns because they have no other way of getting even with the government waste. Lack of action in campaign finance reform prevents the public from having a voice in their government unless they have big money. This exclusion of people is similar to using poll tax that once was used to prevent the African-Americans from voting. Ironically during twenty-first century, the poor is left out regardless of white or black! It seems like hypocrisy is color-blind and an equal opportunity evil!
Many politicians are not concerned about fighting unwinnable wars when the country is practically bankrupt. Speaking of the role models, who has ever heard of the president and is neo-cons buddies speak seriously about saving the country’s resources that is bankrupting not only the present but the future generations. How long will this state of borrowed money and borrowed time will last, no one knows, again because of cancerous growth of hypocrisy.
Lies are told in mega scale in the area of domestic and foreign policies. The leaders are banging the drums of war to fight futile wars that benefits no one but the Military Industrial Complex that President Eisenhower warned us about. It is noteworthy that both Washington and Jefferson were adamantly opposed to venturing into other countries especially into unknown territories.
As for exemplary life our leadership bullies other nations and in effect tells them “Do What I say, Not What I do!’ While undoing the American Revolution, our president acts like king George vii and considers himself a
bove the law. In the meantime he calls his War on Terror an attempt to spread Freedom and Democracy! This state of affairs at home and bullying abroad is the reason for not looking at America as a liberator.
Let us relate that with G.W.'s view of reading. When asked if he reads books, he answered 'I don't read books, I read people!' Had the architects of Iraq war read the book 'The Art of War' by Sun-Tsu, one of the greatest Chinese war writers in 400 B.C., they would have learned this invaluable piece of wisdom, 'Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.'
It must be an insult to the intelligence of every decent American or world citizen to see America venturing into unknown territories such as Iraq without knowing their culture, language and history first. It must be shameful for our military to start to train Arabic language speakers after more than four years of this futile war. It was degrading to see that G.W. could not pronounce the name of the country he invaded for about four months calling it I-rock instead of Iraq!
To justify the war, neo-cons have resorted to portraying other nations and other religions as evil with the intention of killing us. In other words, they have capitalized on the fear of the public by bringing up the evil side of other countries and then blaming them for all of our problems. With the least regard for Thomas Jefferson’s wisdom of, “a nation collapses more from within than from without.”
We are actually taking America and the world as hostage because we ignore the fact the overwhelming majority of the public do not resort to terror and an overwhelming acts of terror are committed by tiny fraction of the people with special problems or genetic defects. This relatively minute fraction has always been dealt with in far cheaper ways than we are led to believe. In other words, by denying the basic goodness of people we are creating more terrorism. What about heeding this Chinese wisdom, “You do not need an ax to kill a gnat!”
All in all America is becoming the worst nightmare of our past philosophers and scientists.
When Albert Eienstein said, “I do not what weapons will be used in World War III, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones” or when Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The end of human race is that it will die of civilization” they had predicted the present world sickness. What the public does not grasp is confusing the possession of gadgets as the end rather than a means to be civilized. What we have failed to learn is that technology devoid of ethics and wisdom could take us back to the stone age as Albert Einstein and Emerson predicted.
The only hope for America and the world is educated and informed public especially in America. My long exposure to the American public is that they are among the best judges if they are given the facts. It is also my opinion that if the public is informed what they are losing, about 75% of them vote against the present course of events rather than the mere 60% during the last midterm elections.
The American public has been conditioned to relinquish its civic responsibility and forget about vigilance to safeguard their freedom. Had they known their world history they would realize that no system lasts for long without public vigilance. As Barbara Tuckman said, “Every successful revolution, in time will put on the robes of the tyrant it replaced.”
The founders of this country would be spinning in their graves if thy could see how runaway hypocrisy was taking the unique country they founded in the opposite direction from what they intended. With two more years to go, Heaven knows how much more of the same harm is done to America. The good news is that the spirit of hope and doing the seemingly impossible tasks still exists in millions of Americans who can awaken this sleeping giant by living up to its ideals..The last midterm election that showed some sixty percent of the American opposed the status quo speaks volumes about the positive change in receptivity of the public. It is my opinion that if the American public is further informed more than 75% of them would oppose the status quo.
We have to restore America’s role model status in the world from that of policeman of the world so that winning the hearts and minds of the people takes precedence over colonizing them and killing them for not following our orders. Much worse, torturing and even having them harassed and tortured outside of America. This, in effect is energizing the repressive regimes we pretend to oppose.
Here are some things the public could do to prevent America from its downfall;
We have to vote for the candidates who will oppose the status quo without regard to how much money they raise between now and election time. We should use our collective influence to provide equal time on public airways such as PBS, CNN or s-span or other relatively independent airways in which the candidates would debate with each other and with the people and make themselves known before election.
We must press for laws requiring the pro-war politicians, their sons and daughters to fight the wars, requiring a balanced budget or else the salaries and benefits of the politicians would be reduced accordingly.
We should demand that our government declare a war on ignorance before the declare the war on terror. If they do that there would be little or no need for war on terror. The present so called “War on Terror” only energizes the dictatorships. If this is done most of the world that yearns for freedom would be happy to fight that war at practically no cost.
Everyone, American or global citizen has the responsibility of preventing America from its downfall especially those who have chosen it as a home for themselves and their children. The best way to do that is to blend our knowledge with the wisdom and lessons of America’s founders and those we have brought from our homeland-the graveyards of empires in the hope of saving America from itself and save our world.
Time is running our and we cannot procrastinate any more. We have passed the state in which the lion’s share of our technology is going into development of weapons of mass destruction and security checks just to find out that we need even more sophisticated ones. In other we are self-destructing by depriving ourselves of the dividends of technology that could be spent for educating and informing the public. Once we hoped that as our technology expands the cost of education would be reduced drastically, but all those costs are going up and not down. Look at the cost of college education.
I conclude that the world is indeed sick and the decent public in America cannot stomach so much hypocrisy and yet too decent to vent their grievances out loud. It is the ever-increasing pressure of this implosion and resisting to explode that is turning the people, in America and elsewhere into a living time bombs with ever-decreasing window of tolerance for irritation. It is this chaotic situation that makes our world sick. Let us call a spade a spade and admit that we have huge problems instead of denying them and spending a fortune to look for the causes of violence in our world and remembering this Ethiopian words of wisdom, “Those who hide their wounds, will never find cure.”
Those who believe that there is no way out of this mess in Corporate America should admit that America with all its technological progress remains a sleeping giant until it has more corporations with human face that balance their profit motives with training a well-informed public that would be better consumers and in turn better guardians of corporate America. If Bill Gates does this, so can the rest!
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