“America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong. But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.”
– Barack Obama
"It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation."
– Vladimir Putin
The five worst words ever written are these: “All men are created equal.” Never mind the obvious that it’s clearly and demonstrably not true — if we’re all created equal why can’t I dunk a basketball? Or hit a little white ball with a stick 400 feet over a fence? Or paint a masterpiece? Or fix the plumbing? It’s the tortured rationale that makes it so bad.
America is a country divided into two: the rich and the rest of us, a reflection of our national obsession with status, which I define as feeling morally superior to others and therefore having the right to do to them as you please. Status is measured by the only value Americans have: wealth. So the people with the money, who buy the influence, who control the messages we are bombarded with every day, say this: We are all created equal.
Therefore it follows that the homeless person lying in the gutter, broken and smeared with more sorrow than dirt, is in that sorry state because he chooses to be. He is, after all, created equal to me. He had the same chances, the same opportunities, as I did. So don’t blame me that’s he’s poor and I’m rich. It’s his fault, not mine.
He not only deserves to be poor, he deserves to be punished. He is a threat to my wellbeing. Hence, laws increasingly that make it a crime to feed a homeless person, laws that make it illegal to sleep in the park, laws that make it legal for police dressed in black with masks on their faces armed to the teeth to invade your home and/or shoot you, whether you’re innocent or guilty is of no concern.
Lawmakers elected by the people of their own free will who say Americans deserve to starve because they’re lazy and won’t work, ignoring the fact that most hungry Americans are the young and the old who are not able to work even if they wanted to.
And most others don’t work not because they don’t want to but because there are no jobs. And why are there no jobs? Because these same lawmakers, aka members of Congress, make heartless policies that outsource jobs to other countries where workers are paid even less than they are here. And the Americans who run these companies reward the lawmaker with bags of cash.
And people who do work, at places like Walmart and McDonald’s, aren’t paid enough to make a living. So they are reduced to going on food stamps. And what do the criminals who make the laws do? They cut $40 billion from the food stamp program, this at a time of record levels of poverty, hunger, suffering children, unemployment, foreclosures.
What kind of depraved creature would want to see people he or she is supposed to represent go hungry, especially when they themselves live in luxury and what little work they do results in more suffering, more injustice, more violence? Only a person devoid of all humanity, which is to say compassion and conscience, would sit in a fancy restaurant, with gourmet food and expensive wine, and look out the window and see fellow Americans with their noses pressed against the window, holding signs that say “Please help me. My family is hungry” and then look away.
This, friend, is the country we have carved for ourselves — four out of five of us live in poverty. While the rich wage war after war for profit to get even richer. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the world (39 percent by the USA) spent $1.7 trillion on military expenses last year (that’s just one year). To end extreme poverty worldwide in 20 years, Jeffrey Sachs, author of “The End of Poverty,” calculated that the total cost per year would be about $175 billion. The poor serve a purpose: They give a lot of us someone to feel superior to.
The war mongers do not feel equal. They feel superior, exceptional, that they have a God-given right, indeed, obligation, to rain death on the innocent. We elect a president who wants to bomb a country called Syria because their president, he claims with no evidence to support it, has used chemical weapons on his own people. But Mr. Obomber had no such qualms when Israel used chemical weapons to rain terror on the people of Palestine. Or no tug of conscience to send death squads called drones in the sky to kill innocent children in the same region as Syria.
He has no problem with American corporations called Monsanto and DuPont fouling our food with chemicals, and if that isn’t bad enough, making it a crime to label the food they have fouled with their chemicals, all for profit. At your expense.
Or a drug company that makes a vaccine that makes you sick or even kills you, and the law says you can’t sue the company. Oil spills that contaminate the water and the food and spill into our backyards. Bankers with million-dollar salaries gleefully search for homes they can foreclose on. If you’re rich and powerful, you can commit the worst crimes imaginable and be rewarded for it.
Superiority breeds entitlement, which breeds contempt. For truth especially. The result is stunning nonsense like this: “Unlike Russia, the United States stands up for democratic values and human rights in our own country and around the world.” (White House spokesman Jay Carne) The only thing exceptional about America is it’s loaded with people who believe it.
As John Locke says, “Tis in vain to find fault with those arts of deceiving wherein men find pleasure to be deceived.” Locke also said, “Where all is but dream, reasoning and arguments are of no use, truth and knowledge nothing.” The dream of most Americans is to have a brain that works like Carne’s.
The best thing ever said on the subject is by a man named George Orwell who in a little book called “Animal Farm” wrote this: “All animals are created equal but some are more equal than others.”
I guess that explains why I can’t write like George Orwell.