Monday, October 10, 2005

Through the eyes of others

Understanding how others see you can be very illuminating. And I have recently had some very disturbing conversations with people from other countries, some just visiting this country, some long-time residents, even citizens. There has been a real change in the way people talk about us. Yes, it used to be that there were people who were jealous of America, and loved to nitpick to find fault. There were those who loved us but opposed our policies in certain parts of the world. There were people who were just against us.

Now, what I hear is either sadness or gloating. Those who really hated us or were jealous of us are cautiously gleeful at what they see as an accelerating spiral of self-destruction. Those who loved us are sad because they worry we are throwing it all away. My friends in the world of science and technology are simply horrified, and wonder if they will have to leave in order to keep their academic freedom. My friends in the arts are afraid, because there are so few places where they have ever had freedom, and this was one of those places. All of them shake their heads as we turn our backs on what used to be the quintessential American value: "Progress".

From big companies (GM, anyone?) that refuse to innovate, to labor unions that reject retraining for the new economy, to religious zealots who want to eviscerate our educational system, to political leaders who want to bomb, pollute and bulldoze us back to the stone ages, we are in the grip of a form of insanity. Is it born of fear? Has there simply been TOO MUCH progress for us to handle, that we need to turn and run?

I worry a little when people bluster and threaten me. I worry more when they shake their heads in pity. We as a country, are rapidly approaching that point.


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October 10, 2005 11:32 PM  

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