God damn it, I love this place. This is one hell of a country, and I love most everyone in it – except you, over there.
You, I got a problem with.
You’re the guy who believes the One Percent are more important than the 99 Percent, not because you think they’re terrific people but because you just insist on having a relentless, secret antagonist to justify your failures by their oppressions. You’re the political lesbian who wants more to blame men than to love women. You’re the people who run around waving your hooves, bleating “Sheeple! Sheeple!” at everyone else, instead of actually DOING anything about the problems you vaguely perceive but are unwilling to define, let alone work to remedy.
You’re my worst side, and that lets me blame you for my own self-loathing. See, I do it, too – let the totality of the problems get me down, instead of picking one and burning it straight down. ‘Cause you can’t save all the starfish, right? So fuck it. It’s all too much to bear.
But here’s how amazing this country is, behind all the hand-wringing: we declare war on entire ideas, and while we may not win a lot of ‘em, we’re still standing. This country declared a Global War On Terror, and went ahead and prosecuted it while the rest of the nations backed away slowly, shaking their heads. And for those of you who think we can’t change course because it’s the end of our empire and everything’s going down the tubes, let me remind you that the War On Drugs turned into a groundswell toward pot legalization. You and I did that, citizen. By sharing ideas. By taking on the ones that spoke to us, and knocking them flat.
We turned away from chattel slavery for “nigras” to jazz, blues, the NBA, and a black primary candidate running against the black President of the United States – who, I would point out somewhat optimistically, hasn’t been shot yet.
We have the world’s greatest racing spectacle in Grand National flat track, plus NASCAR which is arguably the worst. That’s the scale we operate on – from alpha right through to omega.
Wax as cynical as you want about money in politics, but this is the country where George Soros wasn’t rich enough to put John Kerry into office, nor were the Kochs able to afford to buy the big chair for their man Mitt. We have friends in Iraq – a country we invaded! – due to decent treatment abroad by your well-armed fellow Americans. You can buy anything here that you can buy anywhere, from a good smelly kim chi to a fresh new pair of boobs, and if you think that somehow drains away your humanity, go ahead and travel to a few of the places where clean water is the kind of unaffordable luxury that wealthy supranationals believe it should be.
If you do, you’ll quite likely work to help the people you encounter there. We Americans do a fair bit of that. Some indenture themselves to the Peace Corps while others work through private charities and churches; the military does its part (believe me or not); a shorter contingent goes jingling their little UNICEF boxes door to door on Halloween because we’re raising the next generation of great neighbors and citizens right here at home.
Start a business. Donate a pint. Wash dishes at the homeless feed. Write the next great American novel – hey, somebody has to. Teach the flute to school kids. Become a lay preacher. Build a hot rod with your kid. Build a cabin with your spouse. Set an example for your kids, your neighbors, your politicians… and me.
If you have time to contemplate every single problem plaguing America today, you are not nearly busy enough. Quit bitching about being surrounded by rotting starfish, and use your prodigious American resources to pick up that beautiful one right in front of you. Save that one. Just that one.
It’s your neighbor, after all.