America in the 21st. C.

So, to state the obvious, people hijacked some planes and crashed them into American buildings, killing thousands of unsuspecting, innocent people and causing billions in collateral damage. Set aside discussion about who did it and we are left with a glaring question. Why did they do it? It seems that few are interested in asking this question. And no wonder, for it is a very difficult question to ask. The unanswered question why leads to other questions. Does somebody really hate us enough to hurt us this way? Is there something so wrong with us? As a child, to have someone walk up and slap me for some reason was mean and hurtful. What it meant was that this person thought so little of me that they wanted to hurt me. As a particularly introspective, critical adult, I must ask “Is there something so wrong with me (or my country) that others want me to die? What have I done? What haven’t I done?” Deep inside, I believe that I am a simple man. I want and need food. I want and need clothing and shelter and I want and need love. Everything else is fluff. But therein lies my problem. The fluff got so big. Soon, I piled so many substitutes and artificialities that I thought I needed, but only wanted. I became dissatisfied with meeting my needs and turned to my wants. This is a treacherous thing to do in a consumerist society. Media and advertising were eager to show me all the things I wanted and convinced me that I needed them. I was told that with these things I could go to the places I needed to go and to do the things I needed to do. Before long, I was a simple man living a very complicated life. My nation has become the same, simple person living a very complicated life. It’s simple, basic needs have been subject to the “manifest destiny”, and been covered over by fluff. Media has convinced my nation that in order to survive, there must be growth, consumption, construction, excess, more, more, more. My nation was fed, clothed, sheltered and loved long ago, everything since was fluff. Fluff. Were I a rich, overfed, wasteful, rude, obnoxious gross man with low self-esteem and the ensuing sense of entitlement, and someone came over to slap me in the face, I would never look at myself and say “Gee, I live beyond my means, take at the expense of others and give little back, all the time expecting much in return.” I just couldn’t make the connection. This person is our nation. And we all know it. We are disgusted by it. We are often embarrassed to be a part of it. We know that we consume a largest portion of the world and spit what we dislike on the floor while denying all of it. We give back to the world, but only if they will do things our way and speak our language. And we are not ready to realize that this is why they hate us. I do not mean to discount the beauty of America. I think free choice is number one. Let my God decide whether my choices be good or bad, not some monarch or tyrant. I do mean to criticize the Capitalist, consumerist, wasteful monster that America has become in the name of greater growth, shiny-new products, so-called efficient but dehumanizing corporations, more mobility, easier and more convenient everything. My final questions for myself and my nation are, should I change and how do I change? Let’s see, I am a bloated, self-indulgent, selfish bully and I just came to the realization that this is the reason somebody just slapped me in the face. Yes, I should change. The last question is a bit more difficult. The answer lies somewhere in the way we came to be as we are, but I will leave that to sociologists. I can come up with a few ideas of my own though. I want to make a change on a personal level and I know that I want to live simply. Therefore I don’t need to have the newest, best, shiniest items or go to the best, most fun, most exciting places. I can ignore those who will push me to have it all, be all that I can be, and take it where I want to be. I will consume less, throw less of it away, care for what I have and I will love. In this way, I will come to respect myself and my nation. Flying the flag or having a sticker or sign that asks God to bless America is an outward show of support of America, but it’s not enough. Some people want to hang a sign and call it supportive. I want to translate my compassion and empathy into actions. I want to honor the memories of those dead by bringing caring and intention into my life on a daily basis. Actively, Consciously, Openly. Giving things to people because I have so much to give; Wishing them well and meaning it; letting someone in line ahead of me; Asking someone how they are and meaning it; Be asked how I am and meaning my answer; Being honest with others, even when difficult and painful. These and others are the way that I will make this an America that other countries will want to be, not want to blowup.John BubaczCullowhee