The President will present his State of the Union tonight. I’m sure it will be filled with difficult but important choices about the economy, terrorism, and the conflict with Iraq. I’m sure it will try to put the brightest spin on everything and show that the administration is focused on the right things in the right ways.
For the last day, I’ve been thinking about what I think the state of the union is. Much of what I thought of was pretty negative, yet I am personally quite content and happy with my life. It seems that there is a disconnect with how I feel about our country’s direction and how I feel being a citizen of it. Quite odd. So, how to reconcile those feelings.
Here is what makes me feel good about being an American:
- I have the freedom to express how I feel about my government and country, positive or negative, intelligent or naive.
- We have the wealthiest economy in the world, and we still have the resources to fuel it. I am one of the many fortunate ones who can afford to live independently and willfully within it.
- I have the freedom to travel the world with only a passport – or less – in most cases.
- I have access to unparalleled technology for communication, medicine, transportation, recreation, and other aspects of life and society.
- I can walk the streets of my neighborhood at night without fear for my safety or being questioned or assaulted about my motives by armed police.
- The fences between me and my neighbors are decorative and to keep dogs near their houses, not for personal security or to keep me from knowing my neighbors.
- I received a top-flight education and have a decent job with enjoyable work. I continue to learn, gain experience, and advance in my career in ways that I choose.
- I live with, and am married to, a person whom I love dearly, enjoy being with, and choose to be with.
Our nation, and our culture have provided me with the foundation of freedom and opportunities to live like this. I can think of nowhere else that would provide me with this lifestyle and the number of choices I have for myself. I am extremely fortunate and blessed.
What concerns me about being American? Primarily that our current and recent administrations – and our evolving culture – seem to take our place in the world and these opportunities for granted. That we can sustain this level of consumption and dominance indefinitely. That we don’t have to help others in the world achieve the same quality of life and number of opportunities. That the way we live, and our current direction, puts a number of these wonderful elements of our culture at risk.
Fundamentally, can we sustain these elements that I enjoy so much for the long term? A few of them, certainly. But without some deep thinking and adjustments, our current culture will fail. Maybe not in five years, but certainly we’ll see signs within 50, and possibly complete collapse of modern world culture in a couple of hundred.
So, I’m happy with my own life, but concerned for the future. That’s the state of my union.