#340 – Dick Bernard: Part 10. America: "The Land of the [Me]…."

Earlier this week I was writing some letters and having an afternoon cup of coffee at my local hangout.
The place was quite busy, as usual, and behind me I heard some chatter among three women who were having an animated visit. They appeared to be financially comfortable. They were obviously of the age where Social Security was part of their life.
Talk got around to the pending possibility of a U.S. government shut down on March 4 – the ladies were certainly aware of this. But the banter was jocular…they’d have their Social Security check before then. As for anybody else? Not the ladies problem.
There was no sense, whatsoever, that what was going on in Washington D.C. was of any concern to them.
It was a “What! Me worry?” Alfred E. Neumann, MAD Magazine moment.
Given the inclination, I could list dozens of diverse similar situations, just from my own personal observations in daily life. Conversations had, or overheard, or read about, or seen on television.
We are a self-absorbed society, and it will be our ruin if we don’t expand our definition of community beyond ourselves and our immediate family and associations.
Far too many people define society by their single-focus, often their single issue(s).
People are casual or cavalier about things like voting, whether their vote is informed or not.
We have all of the power granted by being a democracy, but too many of us seem short on a sense of responsibility.
By nature I consider myself an optimist. But my optimism is tested frequently.
Most Americans are, I think, thoughtful and reasonable citizens, well aware that their world includes people with differing needs, capacities and identities, not to mention locations. We are a nation of basically good people.
But as anyone who studies politics knows, a tiny percentage of the potential voters are the primary focus of those orchestrating campaigns. Campaign organizations take people where they’re at, and are not bothered in the least by people who vote uninformed or don’t even bother to vote…in fact, such voters (or non-voters) are nurtured to provide the tiny edge needed to win an election. That small percent who are born to hate, or fear, or cannot be bothered with thinking things through, are major assets in political campaigns.
The face of our democracy is those three lackadaisical women I overheard earlier this week, concerned only with getting their social security check before the government shut down. Let everyone else fend for themselves, the future be damned.
To paraphrase Pogo: “we have met the future, and it is us.”