Saturday, February 27, 2010

Where do our priorities lie?

Before I get into today's post, let me first speak to the "Love it or leave it" folks. Do you really realize how asinine of a statement it is to tell someone "Well if you don't like it here in America, you can just get out"? That is such a backwards viewpoint that I honestly have a hard time even formulating my thoughts into words. First, there are now laws, no rules, that say that one must "love" their country - or even like it for that matter - in order to reside there. Second, I was born here. My home is here, my family is here. Who are you to tell me to pick up and leave everything that i have ever known, simply because I don't share your viewpoint on America?

And the irony is not missed on me that it is because I live in America I am free to state that opinion. I don't hate this country but I do think that it has its values really screwed up.

Moving on...I think that this country started out with noble enough values. I just think that they got really turned around somewhere along the way. Nor do I think that every other country in the world is so much better than my own...not at all. There are some countries that are way more screwed up that America. But there are some that have it together a lot more as well. And America does have its good points, it has its beauty, it has its things that make me proud to be here.

I think that love of one's country is just like anything else...there are good points and there are bad points. You embrace the good things and you work to change the bad.

I guess that my biggest problem is that a lot of my countrymen do not share my viewpoint on what the "bad" is, so it makes it hard to make positive changes.

That said, I was looking at the newly released Forbes List for the 400 Richest Americans. The fact that we even have such a list speaks volumes to me. It reiterates my point that we have our values screwed up. Why would anyone care who the "richest Americans" are? Does that make them somehow better than the rest of America? Do they really work harder than the average American?

I would say not. I would say that some of them got where they are from studying hard in school and working their way up. But for the most part I would say that most of them got where they are because they had access to decent schools and then a lot of luck happened. I know that some of you think that we make our own luck, and I agree to an extent. But a child born into a middle class/upper middle class/wealthy family is going to have a lot more "luck" than a child born into a low income family.

Your average sanitation worker works a lot harder than the wealthy man in the cushy office does, yet the difference between their wages is startling.

The average stay-at-home-mom works as hard as the major league baseball player (granted, in different ways) and she arguably has the more important job, yet compare the for the mom versus millions for the baseball player.

Why is it that we promote music, screen and sports figures to an almost god like status? What makes us so much more interested in them than in the people who teach our children, put out our fires and clean our toilets?

Looking again at the list of the 400 richest Americans shows me where America's priorities lie.

Our interests lie in Wal-Mart - out of the top eleven on the list, five of them are affiliated with Wal-Mart. Moving on down the list, candy (junk food), casinos and entertainment are also among the top. And even more disturbing are the number of people in the top 400, even the top 100, who are wealthy because of oil. That means that while we are paying upwards of $4.00 a gallon for gas, we are lining the pockets of the wealthy, the government and the Middle East.

In going over this list, I really do not see where any of these people have done anything truly noble. This reinforces my belief that money isn't really the "good" thing that so many believe it to be. Money is nice to have. It would be nice to be able to pay the monthly bills without worrying where the funds were to come from, but beyond that - I think that money usually changes people for the worse. I realize that I am hugely generalizing here, but that is my personal opinion.

Did you know that the U.S. has second worst newborn death rate in modern world?

More than 46.6 million Americans are without health insurance, yet the rich keep getting richer.

In 2004, the most recent year from which statistics are available, 29,569 people were killed in America from firearm related incidents. Another 64,389 were injured. Go back and read that, let those numbers really sink in. By contrast, in the United Kingdom, there were 163 deaths (in 2003, the latest stats I could find). I just can't figure out this American fascination with owning what are essentially tools for murder.

With all of this, do you know what many of our countrymen are focusing on? They are focusing on the oh so ever important issue of denying their fellow countrymen (and women) the right to marry, denying women rights over their own bodies and making sure that we all live by their morals. America is a beautiful country but I fear for its future if something doesn't change. We need to get our priorities straight.

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