The standard rhetoric behind the concepts of “freedom” and “democracy” entices innocent citizens to crave what doesn’t exist anywhere – definitely not in the U.S. Rightfully so, an individual’s freedom to hijack a plane, fly it into skyscrapers, and terrorize a country has been curtailed. (The Borg Queen certainly would approve.)
In the future stricter measures to control all travelers whether or not they have criminal intentions will be introduced. Such arbitrary government decisions will restrain the “American collective” more and more as threats to human lives, real or imagined, are identified by our expert intelligence agency!
Shout so that all faithful and patriotic Americans can hear you: “Our government must protect us from anxiety and violence!” Then, with the hesitant support of the public, the government can go about their normal business of promoting our nation’s “interests” abroad. If necessary, send in the Marines, the new Special Forces, and the well-paid mercenaries.
When the dust of battle finally settles, will our leaders actually take the time to review what needs to be done to integrate our nation into a world where concern about everyone, not just ourselves, is the shared objective? Without doing that, we will go on favoring a few supposedly “friendly” countries and ignoring the plight of other nations that do not share our “vital interests.”
In the streets of Northern California, you can observe and meet all kinds of Americans, natives and immigrants (legal and illegal.) Although we call ourselves “Americans,” we are merely human beings residing in one state of America. We have very different orientations that separate us because of our color, our age, our clothes, our gender, our appearance, and our possessions. When we converse, the talker provides the listener with an aural opportunity to categorize us. The listener scrutinizes the accent, the word choice, the pronunciation, and the verbal display of intelligence by the speakers. Finally, our body language conveys latent attitudes, preferences, and habits that reveal our unspoken desires and true feelings.
We don’t integrate ourselves into a group of strangers without some assurance that the group shares certain important opinions with us. We anticipate that we aren’t going to be rejected by the other members of the group. Avoiding rejection by accepting the criteria of others is the normal way we try to fit into our local society. When this is impossible, we attempt to interest our friends into creating a unique separate group like the Tea Party groups that may eventually become competitive with the dominant groups in our society. By doing this we are learning about taking advantage of our freedom to establish a formal coterie of friends, to assemble peacefully.
No matter what level of society we are associating with, we find that by exercising our freedom to assemble in the manner we choose, we exclude others who may merit inclusion. When we preach without carefully defining “equality” and “freedom,” and allow groups to form that are exclusive, then integration becomes impossible. Looking at the results in the U.S. from abroad, even a myopic one-eyed person can observe the discrepancy between the theoretical and actual social reality in this country.
In dealing with nations we consider some as political “allies” and some as political “enemies.” The distinction is always temporary and selective depending upon how detrimental a foreign country’s policies are to our “important interests.” Our leaders seldom look at the long term consequences of their categorizations, because elected governments have short term objectives.
As Plato suggests in The Republic, a nation reflects the character of the individuals that comprise its citizenry. If granting limited freedom to citizens has created a diverse people that is seldom unified about communal interests, should we expect that integration can be achieved anywhere? Then, without the horrible and shocking events that occurred 9/11/2001, can we hope to unite as a nation to do more than talk about the few shared ideals that the majority supposedly accepts?
Are we really Americans, or just individuals that happen to live and work in the country called America? We have been taught loyalty to our family, our school, our community, our state, and our country. But we have not been taught loyalty to the human race, the international community, and the global environment that supports each of us. Consequently, our federal government has no strong feelings about being loyal to the United Nations (as witnessed by our continual refusal to pay assessed dues to that organization.)
Our leaders take action under the auspices of NATO, the UN, and the OAS when they see fit. But only when doing so seems beneficial politically. Although we act as though we are integrated and loyal to these organizations, the truth be told, we are motivated to do so only when there is some perceived advantage to be gained.
Now, our leaders have sought a loose commitment from other nations to form a political coalition against nations who harbor terrorists. We have not met openly as a group to ponder world-wide solutions, and to take action approved by the members. Our tacit agreement with other nations is merely “help us, or stay on the sidelines” so our wise leaders can determine the appropriate military and logistical response to stop these outrageous “crimes against humanity.”
This doesn’t seem to be a serious approach to garner grass root support for a combined effort to squelch the world-wide threat of terrorism. To those of us who have gone back to watching Monday Night Football, flying the flag at full staff, and amusing ourselves with our former delights, we don’t waste much thought and energy about this issue except to warn our leaders to be careful. Try not to injure and kill innocent women and children in other countries when we avenge the 3000 murdered inhabitants and visitors of this powerful nation we call America.
Should we be singing and praying “God Bless America” or “God forgive us for what we are about to do in Your name?” Where is the modern Irving Berlin to write God Bless (fill in your favorite nation – if your nation has a “favored-nation” economic status with us.) Across the ocean white with foam, others are singing anthems to their deity” “Allah be praised and bless all those who are devout Muslims.”
Can we stop here and think for a moment about integration? About what it takes to integrate everyone and every country? It takes understanding about the tough responsibilities of having “freedom” and “equality of opportunity.” Not just at the level of the uneducated peasant, but more importantly at the level of the wealthy decision-makers and powerful leaders in every country, including our own!
It takes a much different approach than we are using in the U.S. There must be a respect for other intelligent beliefs, thoughts, and dreams. Democracy tends to create in a population an ugly polarization and discrimination based on a host of sound and unsound criteria. We can never expect to achieve integration as long as there is hatred and disrespect among the factions of our societies, for whatever reason, and a refusal to reach workable agreements with adversaries. Assimilation? Forget that!
Unfortunately, there are no wise captains like Picard and Janeway appointed by a local “Federation of Nations” to settle disputes among the disagreeing members of the many peoples and nations on this planet. Nor does it appear that there is a concerned Deity somewhere inside or outside of the universe who cares enough to visit us and resolve our religious conflicts, should the secular issues ever be settled. So be it, I guess.
What a different world it might be if a brilliant and moral Borg Queen and her loyal subjects could assimilate us all, and let us regenerate tranquilly each night circulating the best ideas to promote a prosperous future for all the inhabitants of this contentious spaceship!
Meanwhile, somewhere in the darkness of immense space, something is hurtling boldly into tomorrow at sub-warp speed. We call this ship “Earth.”