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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Time for America to re-invent itself is now

It’s barely the first of November, and we are having our first winter storm here in Arizona. Friday night it rained, sleeted and snowed accompanied by high winds. Sunday, it was beautiful, as if nothing had happened. This morning it is snowing again. So far, about two inches have accumulated and it's still coming down quite heavily.

My theory is that a polar shift has taken place, which brings arctic air more frequently into the lower latitudes. Other phenomenon might account for this, however. I haven't completely ruled out the Mayan calendar, for example, although it appears to be a bit early for those events to begin.

Other indications, world-wide, seem to point to some kind of impending "sea change" in world history.

Not the least of these, in the U.S., is the apparent inability of the Republican Party to call forth one single truly admirable candidate to contend for the leadership of the United States. In all of the country, is there no truly outstanding individual, no great leader with convincing appeal willing to carry the Republican banner in a time calling for great leadership?

Barack Obama is, in my opinion, a terrific strategist. I think he would make an extraordinary advisor to any president. In calmer times, he might easily be the best choice for a chief administrator. He is most likely that today, but even very few Democrats appear to characterize him as a great leader of the band. It's somewhat challenging to maintain a high adrenal level in his wake. He makes a great speech, very convincing and well thought out, but few people want to light torches and march in the streets to endorse his proposals.

A really great challenger might have an excellent chance to unseat him as President. At the moment, that seems doubtful.

The times call for inspiration - something or someone to get excited about, or, if not excited, certainly encouraged. Something is desperately needed to change our perspective - something honest and believable, challenging but achievable. We need a message to tell us plainly that we have screwed up but that there is redemption - not the kind that will restore the "Good Old Days" as we have known them for so long, but a new, more sustainable, more equitable life as the goal. We need to be intelligently shown where we have gone wrong - not with demagoguery, berating accusations or "Snake Oil" promises, but with professorial understanding and realistic vision. We need to have all the pluses and minuses added up and a promising formula shown which offers a realistic opportunity for achievement in spite of despair.

We don’t need to be promised “two chickens in every pot” or, for that matter, any great leap into prosperity. We came to expect that for far too long. Perhaps we need a re-definition of wealth.

For far too many decades, we were lured into a false expectation of wealth, or at least the dressings of wealth for merely being Americans. Too many people expected too much and too many people were more than willing to feed the expectation by offering every short cut, every easy money profit making scheme imaginable. If schemes were not always readily available, almost unlimited credit could create the illusion anyway.

America practically invented advertising and easy credit. Creating a desire and then offering a means to satisfy it isn’t a unique formula, but in America it found its ultimate evolution. After all, here all men are created equal and therefore equally entitled to treasure. Your neighbor has a new Chevy, why don’t you? Need a loan? No problem.

Finally, we were even buying and selling homes as commodities rather than dwellings. The once proud goal of home ownership and equity as savings became contaminated by prosperity gone crazy. We were no longer happy merely to be solvent and relatively secure. Greed became an element of success and success, as everyone knows, is a right and a guarantee if you are an American.

Even now, as we struggle economically in a way not seen since the Great Depression, those who claim enlightenment and vie for our leadership, continue to offer reconstructed wealth as their trump card. The great battle is over who can restore wealth the quickest, not over a more reasonable and sustainable lifestyle. The great illusion of universal wealth or at least an easily obtainable veneer is the carrot being presently offered. This is the expected American lifestyle. We are programed to accumulate and consume. The extent to which we accumulate and consume have become benchmarks for successful American life.

The great enabler drug called credit has been withdrawn, however, and the withdrawal symptoms are causing increasing pain. Rather than help us become clean and able to deal with our condition, though, we now are subjected to various “fixes,” either draconian or facile.

It is now time for America to re-invent itself. We have used up all our resources in the great push to become dominant. The only thing left for us to do is to explore and find the means to live in balance with a sustainable world. Native Americans accomplished that for thousands of years before us. As smart as we are, we missed an important point somewhere along the way.

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