On Being Great, but Not Feeling ‘Good’
300 Million and Questioning Our Strength
by Adam Abraham
The occasion of America’s population odometer tripping over the 300 million mark should be a cause for celebration and rejoicing, but instead for many, it is a time of great caution and pause. We are a great nation whose people are not sure of their greatness; many of whom don’t feel great at all.
Many Americans don’t feel great about the current war in Iraq. We’ve moved from a country that respected the sovereignty of other nations’ right to govern its people in ways we disagreed, to unilaterally ordaining ourselves as the world’s police force. I’d like to say that we’re peacekeepers, but we’re not making peace with anyone. Our president thought that the events of September 11, 2001 gave us license to invade two foreign countries, turn over their governments, and wreak havoc on their people while trying to apprehend or kill “those responsible.”
We’ve killed thousands of people, and otherwise placed hundreds of others into detention camps, but taken our time to determine their guilt or innocence. The crimes they are suspected of committing put them in a category of people for whom “due process” has little or no meaning. Americans don’t feel great about it. The president seems okay with it. We don’t feel great about that either.
Many Americans don’t feel great about the spiraling escalation of the danger threshold that the president and congress has put us in since 9/11. We could point fingers at the extremist Muslim fanatics and say that they made us do it, but we could have kept the incineration threat down by pursuing justice using less invasive and destructive, and more genuinely cooperative methods.
In a diplomatic posture that is more mindful of a bored, petulant child on a road trip who incessantly wonders “are we there yet?” we’ve replaced the art of talking directly to other foreign leaders with whom we disagree, with talking at them. The president rattles his saber from the distant comfort of his Oval office, in the assumed safety of Air Force One, or in the Officer’s Mess far removed from the Front Line. He sends our sons and daughters to do battle; to risk, take, and sometimes give their lives. He holds steadfastly to a “course” whose actual steps must be taken by others. His course hasn’t yielded much of anything except staggering expenses, higher energy costs, mounting shattered lives, and escalating danger. We don’t feel great about that.
Many Americans don’t feel great for other reasons. In spite of living longer, we are living longer with disease. In fact, they are contracting chronic diseases earlier, and “living” longer with them.
We’ve gotten on “first initial” basis with some illnesses, from “The Big C” to “E.D.” Through the media, we’re told time and time again, that our doctors know more about ourselves than we do. We are led not to question, but to doubt the efficacy of natural factors that might improve our health. On the other hand, we are encouraged to trust toxic remedies and poisonous modalities, and to discount the successes of those who do manage to restore their health via natural, non-pharmaceutical methods. Barring all that, we are conditioned to assume that our bodies inevitably fall apart (and thusly, will need replacements) as we age. We’re 300 million, but it seems that strong might not be the best word to close the sentence.
The picture that I paint is just that, a picture; a perspective. Truth is, for all of our perceived frailty, we’re still a great nation, and a great people. Our Gross Domestic Product of $12 trillion is far and away the highest for any nation on the planet, higher even than the total collective GDP of the European Union. And we don’t have to measure our greatness in terms of dollars and cents. Our collective spirit has touched the four corners of the world, and for all of the havoc that we’ve raised, we have also brought hope, knowledge, and know how to billions of people. That is where our greatness truly lies; a product of our freedom.
Our leaders don’t appear to appreciate that greatness flows from freedom, and not from controls thereon. If they understood it, they wouldn’t continue escalating the overall danger threshold in the world while chipping away at bits and pieces of our freedom. What have they gained thus far, other than more danger, death, violence, questions, and doubts?
Greatness also comes from safety and peace born of the decreases in tension, not increases. Some might argue that we’ve had tension throughout our history; that we’ve become a great nation in spite of it. And it’s true. But today, we are still great, but we don’t feel good about what we’re doing, or how it’s being done; and it matters.
A change is in order, and at hand; but not on the political or military level. This is not even a religious matter. It is a change in spirit. It is a change from a spirit of violence and vengeance, to health and restoration. Health and order will not flow, or be delivered from the barrel of a gun, or cannon, or missile silo. It comes from the courage to appear to be vulnerable, as opposed to appearing to be insane.
Those who embrace the spirit of love are never vulnerable, for they will be empowered, not to do harm, but to be great. However, we’ll not know this truth unless and until we actually do it ourselves. This is something that only one leader can make happen; the one that lives within each of us. As we choose to be unafraid in spite of all the reasons to fear, to be trusting of our inner guidance, and to know our own path to great achievements and follow it, chances are that our way of life will yet be intact when the population odometer rolls up to 400 million.