We are a nation of people distinguished by the borders of our shores. We are no better or worse than you. We are not even all that different. Our problems are distinguishable but I would bet the house I can barely pay for that our joys are pretty much the same.

We are happy when we feel we are safe. Safe is safe and extraordinary. We don’t feel it often. Before September 11 we may have thought we felt it but we didn’t. To be human is to not feel especially safe. The absence, perhaps evasiveness, of reason makes life a precariously nebulous experience. Sometimes it’s worse than that. Sometimes it’s hopeless.

Life here is big business. We don’t mean it to be but money can feel like we’re a safe distance from worrying too much about the future. Until we spend too much of it. Then it is our intolerant leader, our abusive dictator. If there are those of us who are not constantly in search of more money, they are truly lucky. I think to be at peace with your want of money in America would make you a Mother Teresa or a Mahatma Ghandi. Such folk have been smart enough so far to live elsewhere.

We consume. We consume to stave off. We consume because most of us abhor feeling confused or deprived. Money is like love—there’s never enough of it. We crave it but it’s hell to get. It hurts. It causes serious pain and sleep-deprived nights. Sometimes we can’t breathe the fear of losing it is so great. We fear not having enough; we fear having too much. We fear waking up and realizing we have been greedy and now we are too greedy to stop.

The responsibility is on us. There are no exceptions, explanations, or excuses. We abdicate or we make things work. And then we look at what else needs to be fixed. If we ignore our failings, they come knocking on our door ready to blow the house down.

We have sorrows—deep sorrows. Our children die. They die in accidents, are murdered, disappear, wither, starve, take their own lives. We take their lives. Is there a greater sorrow than loss? Despite our money and our might we have yet to figure out how to prevent loss. That fight is futile enough to make the sanest of us lose our minds.

We believe we have the freedom to choose. Most of us choose to survive. If you come here you must do the same thing. Do not expect here to be different from where you are. It is more likely indifferent. Prepare to be disappointed until you take full responsibility for the quality of your life. You will not escape your sorrows and fears. They are human sorrows and fears. They are not American sorrows and fears or Muslim sorrows and fears or Jewish sorrows and fears or Christian sorrows and fears. We are all equally reprehensible and salvageable.

We live in a country that does not ensure happiness or safety or love or even freedom. We are a country that ensures only that we are a part our government’s decisions to the extent that human capacity allows.

We are American. No better or worse than you. We are a nation of people distinguished by the borders of our shores. We cannot blame our leaders for the mistakes that we as a country make. We are responsible every minute of every day for what happens to us and to others.


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  1. Ten Things I Think About Obama’s Speech « artlovesmoney

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