I believe that we are at risk of losing what makes us uniquely American. We have traded in the celebration of diversity for the perception of the ugly American: arrogant, prejudiced, greedy, and unaffected by both the neglect of those less fortunate and the suspension of rights for a particular race of people we fear.
I believe we have allowed our government to declare pre-emptive war, accumulate great debt, disregard the constitution and suspend habeas corpus, all in the name of our prejudice, hate and fear. How can Americans who have any idea of our history allow this to happen? I believe they just do not pay attention. I believe they do not really care unless the individual lives they lead are directly affected. Benjamin Franklin once said that justice could not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are. I believe we have reached a point in this country where we have forgotten the importance of the words of our forefathers, even after all of these years. I believe we live in our own little world where we do not care for our neighbors, near or far, because they are different from us. I believe that it is a damnable shame that the only thing that shakes us from our perceived reality is a major disaster such as a hurricane or tsunami. Where are the American beauties who annually profess that, if they could have their hearts’ desire, it would be world peace? Did they trade in their sashes along with those beliefs for a Hummer?
I believe that I still nurture a glimmer of hope somewhere deep down inside. I believe that if things are bad enough, people will come together and support each other; they will care more about the little things in life such as a beautiful sunset, the sight of a deer standing at attention in the woods, or just a smile from a stranger than they do about what kind of car they drive. I believe we may have to lose everything before we get there. Or do we? Are there enough people within the sound of my voice to understand what is at stake? Can we really affect change one person at a time? Can we spread enough love in the world to counteract all the hate and fear? I believe we can. I believe we must. I believe the survival of our very souls is at stake.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.