Sunday, December 7, 2014
As a little bit of background, my dad was a career military man, and his career was successful. At one time, he ran the Air Force's worldwide communications system. He was a two-star general. And, growing up, it was reinforced within us that my dad's dignity was essential to doing his job. If we didn't protect that dignity and respect him—and exude respect in general...for our teachers, community, friends, etc.—it would undermine him in the eyes of the men and women that served him.
Back then, there was no internet. But there were eyes and ears. My mother referred to it as "living in a fish bowl". We certainly did. If one of us stumbled at school, it would be all over the Air Force base by the end of the day. So we got good grades. We respected our teachers. We kept our noses clean. And, by no means, did we ever say anything negative about our father, our mother or our family unit. It was our job. Not a job we consciously chose, but it came along with the status and privilege of our place in the community.
So a script has been written that runs through every cell of my body. The dignity and respect of the leadership role is key to leadership. Privilege comes with a price. And, no matter how quiet you are about it, eyes and ears will watch and listen to what you have to say and there will be consequences based on what is observed.
So this is my way of saying that I'm embarrassed by the way many of my fellow countrymen disrespect our system of government, the office of the President and our President himself. Yes, we all have free speech. Nobody wants to take away freedom of speech. But with freedoms come responsibilities. All I'm saying is we need to use our freedom of speech responsibly and be aware of the effect we're having when we don't.
By responsibly, I mean it's fine to have opinions about the President and his decisions. That's what freedom of speech is for. What's not responsible, imo, is the hatred and undermining. I know people who quickly hop on every single parody or biased news report and present it as truth and proof of how terribly awful a president we have. They want the world to know how much he sucks. The president sucks, the government sucks, the country sucks and it's all the fault of the sucky president that sucks.
Well, to an outsider who has no horse in the race, you're saying "America is not a country you'd want to do business with, lend money to or trust in an alliance. It's corrupt. Run by a corrupt man." You're also saying, "I'm an American and want my country to remain a democracy, but only when the democracy goes in my favor. When it doesn't, I refuse to support the democratic process and will tell the world how bad a political structure it is by my constant disapproval. Being American means being bitter and unreasonable when things don't go your way." And you're also saying, "America is no longer a great country. It is a country filled with hate, where people have no respect for others or for their leadership. Democracy clearly doesn't work. Americans are unhappy."
To outsiders looking in, we seem like a country divided. We seem like a bunch of privileged prima donnas who have to always be unhappy about something. We look like bigots. We look like unreasonable freaks who are so desperate to BE right that we stopped doing the right thing. We look unstable. We look like anything but the American Dream. Not that that's anyone's intention, but it is the effect of our constant dissent and lack of unity.
And I get that it would be dishonest to be anything but truthful. I'm not talking about lying or misleading. I'm talking about having some class, fercryingoutloud. I'm talking about being fair. Having some grace and not spewing negative, hateful BS all over the world to be judged. Because you know what? They're not doing it to us. You don't hear Canadians getting so emphatic about their politicians. You hear them discuss issues and disagree. But there's not anywhere near the level of hate. In the world's eyes we've become the panty-ass kid who over-shares and whines too much. And you know what that kid never gets? Respect.
See, here's the thing. The people I see who do this constantly are people who would call themselves patriots. They love America. But there is something about this president that boils something deep within in them and they can't see what they look like to everyone else when the geyser spews. And it spews frequently and reliably, like Old Faithful. They think they're "saying it like it is" but they're really just throwing an 8-year-long tantrum because the democratic process didn't work in their favor. And it is UNDERMINING the country. Not in little ways, but in big ways that will be hard to mend. We're damaging the image of this country. We're losing or have lost the world's respect. Not because of anything the president did, but because we don't respect ourselves, our president or our country. At the very least, that's what our words and actions are demonstrating.
And I don't believe it started with Obama. I started noticing it with Bush. But it has gotten way out of hand with Obama. Prior to the year 2000, Americans had opinions and voiced them. But the absolute hate and disrespect for our government has reached a fever pitch since then. We are losing our dignity in the world's eyes. We are losing our dignity, period. It's shameful. We have this beautiful thing and we're defecating on it! When you live in a democracy and elect a president, part of the deal is that you live with that decision and try to make the best of it. We are no longer trying to make the best of it! And in ditching that part of the deal, we undermine ourselves and the consequences, like the disrespect, are global in proportion.
This is not about politics. It's bigger than politics. Everyone expects people to disapprove of their government. It's a natural and human thing. This is about our self-respect as a country. No president has the power to take away our respect for our country. We can have that independent of anything a president does. HE is not our country. WE are. So stop blaming your disrespectful behavior on him. It is not patriotic to undermine him or our democracy by making up lies and saying hateful things that deduct from our equity as a nation.
We're Americans. And that used to conjure images of dignity and respect. Democracy used to be admired in the world's eyes. No matter what a president did, we never lost our equity in that. They weren't all good or effective presidents. They had extra-marital affairs and wiretapped their enemies. But we NEVER lost our dignity and respect as a country! And we're doing that now. And once we've drained our equity, being American will no longer be something special. NOT because of any president, but because WE handed it over willingly through our own hate and lack of respect for the very foundation our country is built upon. It's embarrassing. And shameful. And, corny as it sounds, downright un-American. It's time to stop.