Are Americans Really this Stupid? Are Politicians Really this Inept? Part 1: What the Heck is Going On? Chapter 1:
Are you concerned about what is happening right now?
We have a worldwide pandemic, but even as the pandemic subsides as vaccines are produced and widely distributed, turmoil is evident practically everywhere. The virus added fuel to a fire already burning. People are struggling financially as the American economy and the world’s economy teeters on the edge of solvency. Social relations are adversarial and ugly as more and more people embrace fear and hate politics in an effort to get theirs.
Things seem to be spinning out of control. What the heck is going on?
I am not sure what drew you to this manuscript. Sometimes I feel as if I am the only person in the world who thinks like I do. Perhaps not.
I wrote a book a few years ago called Success 101 How Life Works – Know the Rules, Play to Win. That book focuses specifically on improving lives – yours, mine, everyone’s. The premise of Success 101 How Life Works is that you ultimately hold the cards. You are in charge of your own life and how it plays out; for better or for worse, for good or for ill; mostly, but not absolutely. Something greater than “self” is in play.
The emphasis and focus of Success 101 How Life Works is optimistic. You have power and your choices matter. This book: Are Americans Really this Stupid? is not a rejection of that optimistic, personal-power truth. It is an attempt to understand and frame in context why so many individuals refuse to employ their power for good.
Are environmental, economic, political and social forces so overwhelming? Or is it something else, something much more pervasive and fundamental?
You see, if we – you and I – are ultimately in charge of our own lives, for better or for worse, then this time of turmoil is a call to action, a call to change. This is not the time to relinquish responsibility as so many do. Now is precisely the time to lean in and take charge of your life.
In this book I attempt to be objective but having read this far you have likely recognized my biases. Think of my perspective this way: I say, “All of me is God; but I’m not all of God.” Some will say heresy. Hear me out. Something greater is at work in our lives and in life.
Throughout this manuscript I mention opposing forces and spectrums or continuums again and again.
Is it nature or nurture which guides us?
Or something in between?
Are you powerful or powerless?
Or something in between?
Do you chart your own course or do others chart your course for you?
Or something in between?
I believe we can observe the health of individuals and society on one spectrum or through one dichotomy: an internal or an external focus. The dichotomy which drives the conflagration that is our time is a “me” or a “we” focus.
As social beings, strength comes from unity. United we can accomplish much. Divided we squabble, fight and ultimately fall. I believe as we proceed through life, individuals and society constantly move between an I-me-my focus and a we-us-together focus. As we mature we come to recognize and realize, “It’s not all about me.”
At its extreme a “me” focus says only one thing matters: me. ‘My sole concern is how the environment and other people impact or affect me. It is me against the world.’
A “we” focus on the other hand sees from a broader vantage point. ‘I am not all that is or all that matters. I am part of a community, an environment and a world. Everything I do affects others and everything others do affects me. We are all in this together.’ While ultimately we control our own focus and perspective, the crowd and other people influence us in positive and negative ways.
Through Are Americans Really this Stupid? we are going to consider life – not from a physics, thermo-dynamics, chemical or biological perspective. We are going to consider life from a spiritual, psychological and social perspective.
To begin let us establish some common ground by acknowledging two primary factors: change and balance.
Everything in our awareness, everything we taste, touch, see, smell and hear; everything we sense and feel is in constant motion. We are moving this very instant. What we think is still and calm and steady, is really moving. The one constant of experience is change.
Slowing ourselves down does not stop the motion; does not stop change. Everything changes, all the time. The best we can hope to do is make sense of that motion and influence change. Everything is changing. Change is our one constant. How we deal with change matters.
Life seems to be speeding up and becoming more chaotic. This chaos is why we are asking, “What-the-heck is going on?”
Like fish have no concept of water, most people have no concept of life beyond the boundaries of their senses. Life just happens. We keep moving. Things keep changing, and we deal with it.
Sometimes we feel good. Sometimes we do not. We just keep striving to feel better. And once we do feel better, we want things to stop changing; stop moving. Like Goldilocks, we do not want to be too hot or too cold, too big or too small, too fast or too slow – we want things just right. We want life to be in equilibrium – in balance. And once it is – in balance; comfortable – we want things to remain as they are.
But life does not work that way. Things change.
And we; think about it; we, most of us hate change. We resist change. And that – resisting change – is a good part of our problem.
Life moves in cycles. Like a pendulum, life swings toward balance then beyond it until it reaches an extreme, then swings back. The chaos we are experiencing now is life at an extreme: the chaos and crisis phase of the social cycle.
An extreme is a transition period. We have gone too far embracing every-man-for-himself, it’s-all-about-me. Now we must change direction and come together. We must swing away from “me” back toward “we” again.
Are Americans Really this Stupid? is an attempt to help you take control of your own life. And in so doing help us all move in a more productive direction.
I use the word “control” very deliberately: take control of your life. Taking control of your life is essential to our changing direction.
Are Americans Really this Stupid? is presented in two parts. Through Part I we focus on what motivates individuals and what moves the collective. We explore how “me” impacts “we”.
In Part 2 we focus on the truth about American politics – the practical motivations which manifest in our politics, our economics, and our social life – the dynamics of power.
First we head back to nature.
Chapter 2 coming Thursday. Let me know what you think.
All the best, Scott