United Press International June 18, 2004
Outside View: An American introspection
by John Renesch
A UPI Outside View commentary
SAN FRANCISCO, June 18 (UPI) — Don’t look now but U.S. arrogance is showing! Americans still brag about how great we are when the evidence for this being true is rapidly evaporating. Here are a few examples of where we are really off in our braggadocio:
— While we proudly claim to be the world’s greatest democracy, fewer than 40 percent of us voted in the last national election, placing us 139th in voter turnout among 167 democracies.
— While we brag that we stand for equality our actions convey total superiority, that we are “king of the hill” and that the rest of the world isn’t equal to us at all.
— We claim to stand for personal freedom but most of our citizens are feeling less free, working longer hours, burdened by debt and stress.
— While we used to be “the world’s best friend” we are now the biggest bully on the planet, relying on military power and economic coercion to “have our way” with the rest of the world, making enemies right and left as we do.
Mental health professionals call this “hubris” or exaggerated pride or self-confidence. Self-confidence is one thing but delusion is a much more serious matter. The United States is acting in such contrast to what we tell ourselves that we could be clinically designated as delusional. Jung called this refusal to look at the darker sides of oneself the “shadow.” It would seem we have a severe case of “national shadow” and this concerns me for our country.
This disconnect from reality, which we are all part of, whether we are actively engaged in it or simply turning a deaf ear to what is happening, could cost us our wonderful country. Why have we become so fixated on imposing our “way” on the world, ignoring all other cultures, when we were so committed to democracy and freedom? Why do we insist on blustery rhetoric such as “USA No. 1!” and promoting our version of capitalism, our version of explicit sexuality, our version of music videos, our version of a true God?
Hypocrisy is part of it. Arrogance is another.
The Roman and British empires crumbled, as have many so many others throughout history. Our nation’s attempt to establish “a new American Empire” (call it “hegemony” or some other polite term instead of “domination”) is pure folly as well as a further distraction from the original American Dream. Most great cultures implode. They destroy themselves.
Is the United States on the same track? Have we reached the epitome on our path to destiny? Are we on track to be “just another country” as many are predicting?
I don’t think so. I believe that the United States has a much higher calling, a calling whereby all people have equal rights, opportunity and their basic needs met. Why can’t we live up to that calling and include the rest of the world rather than pretending that we know what’s good and right and, “By God, we’re going to thrust our point of view down the throats of everyone else in the world just because we can!”
The United States has the military power and can dominate or bully our way for now. Yes, we have the economic clout to intimidate all cultures to conform or suffer. Yes, we can insist that the world succumbs to our demands and yields to our arm-twisting. But will we still be around in a generation? Will we have manifested the destiny so many of us feel is yet unfulfilled for these United States of America?
These are questions I ask myself and wonder if anyone else is doing the same. If they are, they are being very quiet.
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