Thinking about how the American government recently apologized to Guatemalans for injecting their citizens with venereal diseases, I could not help but think about the infamous, American, Tuskegee Experiment. Skimming through the details on Wikipedia, I couldn’t help but look at the picture and see these people joking and the black people (the subjects) not aware of what is being done to them. Words could not describe how I felt. Turning to the poet, Nas, I began to dissect his lyrics:
Then I felt like writing about this:
Politicians and pundit just don’t understand how their rhetoric can really lead to anything bad. Well if they believe their rhetoric will get people to do good acts, why can’t it lead people to commit heinous acts? This rhetoric leads directly to a mindset most of us have.
The over-belief in God saving us from the evil, the over-belief in the afterlife (i.e., heaven), and the over-belief in the “American Dream” has us waiting for a tomorrow that will never come. We spend so much time preparing for tomorrow, we go through life like robots. No being aware of today, at all.
The “waiting-for-tomorrow” syndrome, it accounts for our poor health, bad credit, destruction of the environment, high divorce rates, disconnect with families, disconnect with communities, increasing suicide rates, bad decisions, poor race relations, and most importantly, our lack of awareness. Here is a good look at how aware America is.
It has us waiting for the moment and in reality, we’ll never reach it because no matter what position we are in, we want more. The only logical thing to combat that is to understand that life is more important. Every second counts. Living in the moment is something the monks do, but in the form of meditation; Focusing on the exact moment. It’s ambiguous and crazy to think about.
In order for us to progress as a nation. We have to change our definition of “The American Dream”. It can no longer be about wealth, status, and addiction to work. We have to make our dream about community bonds, individual strength, self-actualization, understanding, balance, and empathy (sum it up and you have love). If we are to continue to focus on material things like wealth, net-worth, and status, we will never become a great nation.
The mentality of a better tomorrow is an approach to life that is only human, but our addiction to the rhetoric, the fantasies, the lies, the media, the wars, and a fairly comfortable way of living have pushed that approach near the edge. We have become overconfident and unable to see the truth because things have happened, fortunately, in our favor. Because we are alive today through a number of lucky and rare events, we misunderstand that as being blessed and think it will last forever. It is only an illusion. We have become complacent and in that complacency, blind to our mistakes, blind to the way we’re living.
It won’t be long before we will become full of broken dreams, broken hearts, broken families, and essentially, a broken society. Some may say we’re already there. Change always starts with us. Each of us in fighting the battle of our lives within our own minds. Before we become so quick to blame society and those in power for the ills in our society, let’s take a look at ourselves, the ones who elect these leaders. We are a part of this society. Maybe it’s not society that is broken. Maybe we are. This and another CNN article put our situation into perspective.
This Jay-Z & 9th Wonder song captures the better parts of “the American Dream”: