America – A Nation of “Clumps” ?

This morning, a friend circulated this link to an op-ed article by David Brooks, titled: “Let’s Get Fundamental” :

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/04/opinion/04brooks.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

So I read David Brooks’ article (thank you J-!) and notice “intelligent voice” speaks up yet again.   Brooks offers thoughtful, pragmatic, analysis of where we are with regards to HC reform, and what President Obama might be able to do about correcting course.

And I wonder who, how many, may be listening.  Saw a YouTube presentation from a British physician (who otherwise apparently shares cultivation of apple trees with a YouTube following!)  David Brooks … the British physician … other observers … some watching without a pony in the race …  can hardly stand idle (and who can blame them, or would want them to!). 

They want and do offer hope, helpful suggestion, direction. They can’t believe the US is so mixed up!  Heads shaking, a caring parental position watching teens, they wonder  if the children will ever mature; they wonder where “all this” is leading.

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What gets me – interests me – or simply exists as observation frequently passing through my mind –  is that we are witnessing an astonishing historical process in the fortunes of the United States. 

The HC ‘debate’ is only a front-center display of the full social, economic, political, state of affairs that might be considered if we take a ‘reading on national health’.  (Curious and almost annoying that ‘state of health’ can be used as model everywhere we look!)

Education – the parts of education that would by now have yielded a population of critical thinkers – is in the same mess.  The mess in education is also an explanation for how HC could become what it has become.  (Education is not in a mess by teacher failure, but by long term, wide spread, social dis-interest in the essential role of ‘critical thinking’ as an educational outcome.)

“Rot” is well entrenched.  One means by which we achieved this was rejecting guidance along the way from considered, knowledgeable, providers of “overview”.  We rejected guidance from those who deeply study global and national human social/political history, who are able to identify patterns laid out by civilizations before, who are able to bring these to our attention.  We rejected their input much as teens don’t want to hear from their parents.  And we continue to reject this voice.

We especially reject ordinary and not so ordinary university level economists, political scientists, and historians — those perhaps more content to stay put and study, those dis-inclined to seek or accept high profile positions in think tanks, government, or corporate, structures.  These are thinkers who publish, but otherwise prefer to hang back and observe, study, notice.  Thinkers who are willing to share if anyone asks, reads their books, attends their lectures or shows sufficient interest to ask a question.  No splash and pizazz from these folks, so they were (and are) considered ‘boring’, ‘irrelevant’ and “way too complicated in their thinking”.

Any of these carriers of knowledge who step out of more reflective lives into active, busy, roles as ‘advisors’, enter an environment without time for full, considered, knowledge. Dynamics of the “mover/shaker” world insists information be offered in ‘point form’.  Once established in “plumb appointments”, knowledge-providers begin to lose ‘overview’. The more contemplative environment that allowed it is behind them.

T. Jefferson was onto something in his belief that gardening/farming offers important balance in individual lives for the sake of a healthy nation.  Both activities foster “overview” kinds of thinking!  (Or did – I cannot speak to what it is like now. Driving a tractor for soil prep these days is usually from within an insulated cab that, for all I know, has a dvd player!!)

What I “see/feel/sense” of our present state of affairs is that we are not a nation at all.  Rather, we are formed of lots and lots of population “clumps”. These clumps are relatively independent, although not entirely. Views from within the clumps are shared with views from within other clumps, but not in such a way as to promote “pulling together”.

Some of the old stand-bys for getting us to pull together don’t have the same unquestioned value they once had. Enough refuse to be persuaded to war, enough refuse to be persuaded we can “all get rich together”, that flag-waving and advertising have lost glory and credibility. (But not to all the people, not to all the clumps.  War and consumer economics are still thought functional “nation strengthening belief systems” by some of the people in some of the clumps, who haul them out and hope to persuade the rest of the people in the rest of the clumps to join against a declared enemy, or beef up consumer activity.)

It’s all ‘clumps’. Nothing terribly (or wonderfully) “national” about it. No defining statement of “American identity” can be made these days except the ‘reality’ of the importance to the individual of his/her specific ‘clump membership’

Sure looks to me as if things are going to have to get a whole lot more interesting before a widely accepted “national purpose” brings us together. 

Right now we are not even sharing the question: “What is our national purpose?” We’re not asking at an individual level, so are a long way from addressing it within our clumps and across clump boundaries.

Yep – time for nature-aware folks to get ready for winter – at least we know the seasons roll on. There’s some continuity in that.

Tend a Garden!  Ask a Question!  Have a critical thought experience! 

My Best To All!  – MaggieAnn

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About maggieannthoeni

A description once given of me was "rooted in the earth while roaming the stars" - and this has felt 'right'. I believe in something akin to this for each of us. I am a passionate supporter of discovering the autonomous self while serving the whole as primary intent. I believe in discovery of innate principles, clearing the overlay of socialization that obscures this from us. I believe it is our responsibility to leave no one behind - most particularly to respond to suffering as best we can whereever we find it, whenever we are made aware. I believe in this for the insect as well as the most magnificent form of humanity. I believe in brother/sisterhood without boundary. I believe in righteous indignation when it is appropriate, but do not believe in an enemy. I believe in consciousness, in intelligence, in logic, in rationality, in emotion, in transcendence - and am convinced until we generally practice explore and honor all this in ourselves, we remain profoundly immature. (I believe real maturity is known and practiced by many young children, and not enough adults!)
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One Response to America – A Nation of “Clumps” ?

  1. Isadore says:

    Divide and conquer, worked wonderfully well for the Romans and is working wonderfully well for the American oligarchy. Eventually the clumps will be reduced in size to clumps of one, 350 million fiercely independant and woefully powerless individuals. I have this image of a canoe full of paddlers, all paddling in different directions while being swept downstream towards a waterfall. At one time not so long ago, the US was respected and emulated if not envied by the developed world. This is not the case today, in the light of recent economic disasters, the strategic failure of the gulf war, the fruitless and unwarrented wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, two stolen presidential elections, the hurricane Trina debacle, and the inability of its’ citizens to formulate and institute a universal HC plan (a fact in all of the developed world save the US). The United States is becoming a laughing stock of a large part of the world, the other part either fears or downright hates the US because of its hugh and powerful armed forces and its propensity to act unilaterally and proactively against nations it perceives rightly or wrongly to be a threat to its national security or economic empire. And it’s so sad because you (Americans) have so much potential to be a truly great nation among nations. Unfulfilled promise is always such a great dissapointment. For one brief shining moment the world was illuminated by the light of the American Declaration of Independence and its twin star, the American Constitution, it’s been downhill since then.

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