The ultimate test of our worth in a true democracy, is how we treat our most vulnerable and disadvantaged
Sir Wiliam Deane
Former Governor General of Australia
This post is, in a roundabout way about learning and education.
I just moved to Canada because I just couldn’t stand seeing what happens in a place I called my home for almost half of my life. I love the people who call it home, because they are my friends, but I just couldn’t do it anymore, and I didn’t take the decision to leave lightly.
While I’ve debated the finer points of the systemic issues within the United States, I have to admit that every country struggles to overcome its challenges, no matter how progressive they may appear to be. This is part of the human condition, to fall and get back up again, to cooperate, and to disagree.
Despite what many seem to think, criticizing our system of government and societal norms does not make us Anti-American.
When we learn and educate ourselves, part of that education must include self-reflection. To admit that we are the best, that we are #1 is nothing short of self-aggrandizement, steeped not in fact, but in belief. This is the biggest hurdle that America will need to contend with in the future — to admit as a culture, society and nation, that there is a possibility that it is not the best nation on earth. This is the first step to solving the problems that plague it.
To look outside oneself and see alternate viewpoints, processes and ways of interacting with our fellow citizens is of paramount importance. Even more important is the ability to be intellectually responsible enough to look at these alternatives and make a judgement as to their worth.
So the largest question I always come back to is this: Is the limitation of certain rights a good thing?
My answer is a resounding YES.
The first and second amendments to the constitution, allow us freedom to do two very damaging things to each other.
- The freedom to use words that incite hatred and violence towards other groups of citizens (something that is illegal in most developed countries)
- The freedom to easily acquire and own devices to carry out the aforementioned violence.
Limiting these freedoms secures the safety and prosperity of ALL citizens, if that’s what America wants to do as a nation.
Of course something will boil to the surface in many readers. An innate distrust of their government and their fellow citizens and a lack of care for the wellbeing of the same, traits that I cannot believe that exist in America. This unfounded paranoia allows some to create imaginary scenarios where all speech is limited and that all property is seized.
If we are unable to bring attention to our society’s failings and have a meaningful conversation about change then I would argue that our speech is already limited. If we also cannot acknowledge that civil forfeiture already exists and choose to ignore it because we have not experienced it first-hand, then both these fears are ill-informed and unjustified because they are already a reality.
To be educated is to be able to think critically and propose solutions to problems. America has many problems, but no meaningful solutions to them as yet.
Optimistically, I have to believe that most citizens are capable of identifying these problems and their solutions, they just lack the education, political power by means of capital, and social mobility to make any effective changes themselves. This speaks to both lack of representation of the citizenry and an active suppression of participation in their democracy by those who seek to benefit personally.
At the same time, the narrative of American Exceptionalism reinforces income inequality, and systemic racism through a media machine that forces the ill-informed citizenry to continue wearing blinders to the world and repeat the words fed to them that say “America is the best country in the world”.
It is not the best. It is not the worst. It is simply a country that cannot consider alternatives.
And it breaks my heart to watch its people suffer.