Val is an out-of-the-box writer often questioning the validity of many popular tenets of cultural paradigm..
Dreaming Is Free, Maybe That's Why Freedom Is So Popular
To quote myself from another of my articles -- being an individualist, I am terribly against generalizing; so if you asked me "what I think of Americans", I might answer with a question: "Which ones?"
For, in just about any nation in this world there is a diversity of individuals -- some geniuses, some idiots, those successful, and those homeless, law-abiding, and criminals -- and America is no exception.
However, judging by all those who are making some sense in their lives, we could say that Americans are quite industrious, goal oriented, materialistic, but also tending to "think big" -- which then spreads over the way they are seeing themselves.
"American Dream", which refers to ambitions for attaining prosperity and beyond, doesn't stop at that, but also involves a dream about American "global leadership", "military supremacy", "medical superiority", "best standard of living", "the happiest nation"...and what not.
As for a "global leadership", leaders get elected, not self-appointed, and if leadership implies followers, we don't see anybody in the world showing any signs of being "American follower" -- each country deciding about their own political, socio-economic, and religious arrangement.
Indeed, no one seems to ask for either American opinion or an approval -- albeit with some occasional disapprovals being imposed on them -- so it's not quite clear in which sense America is a "global leader".
In the case of a suggested "medical leadership", there is this staggering number of 350,000 yearly deaths caused by medical screwups in America, with many pharmaceuticals being recalled, and people massively switching to alternative ways of maintaining and fixing their health, after being dissatisfied with the medical practice.
Someone even said it, half-jokingly: "It's a kind of scary that doctors are 'practicing' medicine"
As for mental health in America -- established by that "medical leadership" -- according to the statistics, every fifth American has some mental issues. One might say, it's a small wonder that every few seconds an arrest is being made somewhere in America.
Talking about the "best standard of living", America is only at the 13th place on that list, with 27 million of its people being without any health insurance. There are some over half million homeless in that "most prosperous country in the world": and while we are talking about prosperity, the number of the rich certainly doesn't hint at a prosperity of the whole population.
Then we come to this question of a "military superiority".
Well, it's only a matter of the common sense that it makes no difference whether we have ten or ten thousand nukes -- we could only use a couple before the rest of the world would gang up against us for polluting the atmosphere with a massive radiation.
On the other hand, when it is about fighting with conventional weaponry, wars never look the same in War Rooms as they turn out on the battlefield. Napoleon learned that lesson, so did Hitler, and in newer history we have this example of the war against one tiny Vietnam, with over 50,000 American soldiers dead after nine years of a crazy, non-defensive war, and as many committing suicide, traumatized by horrors of the combat.
It took a too long time to finally find and kill Osama bin Laden, with all sophisticated satellite and other intelligence being at disposal; while Taliban, ISIS, and Al Qaida are still undefeated. Besides, with an example of Vietnam war, you can't attack a country without having an "unofficial", shadow enemy -- a biggie helping it.
Like, try to attack North Korea, and you are also fighting China; attack Iran, and you are fighting all biggies whose economy depends on Iranian oil.
So, all in all, we are facing here some realities behind that rosy dream about one "superior military of America". If anything is huge about it -- it's the astronomical chunk of the national revenue spent on its advancement, bribes to all those countries of strategic interests, and maintaining of those over 75 military bases scattered around the globe.
One must feel terribly paranoid to be the only one in the world so "prepared" for a phantom, imaginary enemy -- at this time in history when no one is to ever attack a bigger country.
But hey, we have to appear "very scary and impressive" -- as we are the biggest force in this corner of the universe.
Patriotism Doesn't Define a Country
While patriotism is a noble and virtuous quality, it shouldn't mean a blind mind. I love my wife, and after 56 years of marriage I sometimes dream about arranging for our second, Golden wedding on a Hawaiian beach, with all those romantic, colorful props. But I don't see her, even from her best young age, as someone who is, "by everyone's taste an irresistible woman" -- just like I see millions of women who wouldn't give me a second look at time when I looked my best.
So, it's O.K. to have dreams, as long as we are not expecting others to share them with us, because -- surprise!!! -- they prefer dreaming their own.
However, we don't hear about any other country making such a big deal of their ambitions generated by those dreams. It's almost as if American folks are seeing themselves as being "God-chosen", or something.
I have been in America some dozen times, even lived and worked there for a while (with a green card and social security number) -- but in all that time I was not lucky enough to meet a single of those "avatar"-like, God-chosen creatures, or even finding anything out of the ordinary about those folks.
Yes, many people move there, but many also leave, and we have many born-American immigrants here in Canada. Many would like to leave America, only if they had guts to start it all over -- like I did.
In my case I was not blaming "rich America for not making me rich"; it simply didn't work for me and my family, even though "riches" were not in our ambitions at all. So we returned to Canada, where we reestablished a fully operational living in a matter of weeks. That including an affordable home, jobs, health insurance, kids continuing schooling -- everything that means a normal life. Talking about "a land of opportunity".
Well, it may be just the way I am seeing it from a position of an individualist and a relativist, but so many folks in America seem to compensate their mediocre lives with an imaginary national grandeur, as if that will add anything to their personal importance if they are a part of "something superbly dignifying".
I just can't help seeing it that way, but -- people are only people, and no labels, and symbols, and figments of patriotic dreaming, can ever change who they are. A miserable dude or dudesse in America can't dump enough patriotic sugar on their emotional crap to make it look more dignified.
I hear them say all those proud words, and I see them glowing in their victorious "superiority" -- and then out of nowhere comes the scene from the "Looney Tunes" with Duffy Duck running amok and yelling: "I'm rich! I'm rich! I'm filthy rich!"
Finding Friends -- Not "Followers"
That myth of American Empire, as experienced by those stubborn dreamers, wouldn't even be so bad; but the problem arises when, during their sleepwalk they start bumping into reality.
Like, here comes China as a new serious competitor on global market. No tariffs seem to help, only makes them more alive, as they rapidly spread their new markets in Africa and Latin America. A metaphor pops up in mind with a balloon squeezed at one side just making it bigger at the other end.
"How dare they compete with one mighty America!!!" -- goes the outcry of the patriots, instantly labeling China as a "national enemy". With apparently no way of realizing that China is not "plotting anything against America" by simply advancing themselves.
So I have lost a few pounds for my own health reasons -- and there goes a bunch of my overweight friends blaming me for "competing with them", "trying hard to make them less attractive". You got the metaphor? Of course you do, and it looks so logical in my illustration, but still so unforgivable with Chinese in picture.
Maybe we could stop being so focused on what others are doing wrong, and try to figure what we might be doing wrong.
Like, maybe, just maybe, that much trumpeted self-image of "superiority" and "global leadership" is not really working for us. Maybe, just maybe, people don't really appreciate political bullyism, with coercion, blackmail, with ordering who can and cannot be their friends and business partners.
Maybe, just maybe, the European NATO allies are not too happy, with a reason, to participate anymore in American adventures in the Middle East favoring their friends Israel.
Could it be the time to start making friends instead of unwilling "followers"? After all, in these times when the word "freedom" seems to be so popular in American slogans, could we fathom that the world wants to be "free" from anyone bossing them around?
All empires in history had one thing in common -- they crumbled of their own weight.
After Americans dropped those nukes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, someone in the Japanese headquarters asked: "Should we plan a retaliation?"
A general replied: "No need for that -- they will destroy themselves".
And hey, if a scholar of Noam Chomsky's caliber sounds like he would share almost everything said in this post -- maybe it shouldn't be scrapped as "just some anti-American crap".
For it ain't that. In eyes of all those more sober ones, it will be properly interpreted as just a friendly reminder.
© 2021 Val Karas