"Although I know what you mean, Americans are not stupid – it's worse than that. Americans are no more stupid as a people than any other nation. Americans, compared to most of the rest of the world, are wealthy and comfortable, and sadly, have become selfish, complacent and careless. America continues to coast on its past.
It's been several generations since most Americans have really suffered. There are safety nets for everything. People rarely fail to the point of ending up begging on the street with nothing. Even if someone fails, there are shelters for food, clothing and places to sleep. And help to get back on your feet if you are willing and able.
That's not true for most of the world, where there are miles and miles of cardboard and plastic sheeting shanties with millions of people barefoot and wearing dirty rags. People sick and dying young. People working for pennies or begging for anything or selling themselves. People with no clean water and little if any education. The depressing list is endless. (The incredible, extensive depressing poverty is part of why I stopped traveling – it's everywhere, and it can get to you.)
Every American should be forced to travel to one of the many countries where this can be seen – the list is very long, but if time is limited, just drop down to Mexico.
Americans need to get back in touch with the fact that really bad things can happen to people and that there won't always be someone there to save their bacon. If people think $4 gas is the worst it can get, they know nothing.
All Americans aren't stupid, they need a dose of reality. They need to peer out from their insulated happy little lives, where they drive their kids to soccer practice and come home to turn on the lights and TV every night, and always assume they'll have heat in the winter. Most have incomes, most can eat what they want and play in their free time, and most complain about how bad things are becoming. As if.
I dont know if there is still time to really change anything, but if for this election, more Americans don't wake up and poke their heads up from behind their TVs to educate themselves about what is really going on, if they dont take the time to look beyond the manipulative slogans, the numerous lies, silly "gotchas" and stereotypes, if they don't break away from doing what is easy (again), if they continue to vote for the less qualified candidates because they just "like" them, they will deserve what they get. And sadly everyone else will go down with them.
America is like the Exxon Valdez – it's big, it's dangerous, and it's drifting without a rudder. If it hits, there will be a major disaster. The solution? Hey, let's put that old wrinkled white guy (he was a POW dont-cha-know) and cute Caribou Barbie at the helm. Go, team.
But enough of this... where'd I put the remote.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Reader: "Americans Aren't Stupid – It's Worse Than That."
My good friend "J." shares some of my frustrations with the cluelessness of the American electorate, but sees things a bit differently than I did in my essay, "Smart Guilt":