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Wed May 30, 2012, 09:31 AM

We're all living in an America at a crossroads...

Most of us are of an age at when we can remember that being an American meant that we strove to be a great people who did great things.

We had quite different definitions in our past of what was great from today, the will to make that greatness come to be and the foresight to inspire greatness in others.

Or so we thought... Perhaps, in establishing our definitions of good examples, rewarding what was right, while punishing what was wrong, that we could fabricate a strong case for our own preeminence in the world. Much of this depended upon our general view of ourselves; that we are basically good, and therefore, our intentions must be good, even in spite of what ever negative consequences that may or may not have occurred.

The key to understanding the truth about ourselves requires us to objectively look outside of ourselves, our intentions and the consequences of our actions. For us, this is a very rare and precious commodity, of which so few of us will ever possess. For we assign highly subjective standards to our own actions and fail to understand their impact on others.

What are we? Who are we? Why have we done the things that we have done? You can find the answers to those questions only if you dare to look in the right place. What is very clear is that we have redefined ourselves in such a negative way that we lost our ability to achieve a greater level of universal and equitable greatness. Our vision is blurred, we have to refocus.

So, how did this happen?

Let's look upon the idea of establishing our own greatness by the building of an arsenal. We, ourselves, are great and so this arsenal must be great as well. It would be easy to find reasons to build it in the first place; our very survival, the protection of our friends and allies, in opposition to unjust causes and so forth and so on. But what's to be done with this thing once its justifications to exist are vanquished?

Again, by making the correct definitions of right versus wrong, the clear choice would be to change the definition of greatness based on the greatest need and the greatest good for all, correct?

But what if we never strove for that ultimate goal and we took a different path? What if we chose to maintain that arsenal beyond its real need... That we create a dependence on it, we delude ourselves to justify its existence, ignore the atrocities that it leaves in it wake, sacrifice the greater good to keep it extant, resist reducing its size and scope to a more realistically maintainable level and then seeking to define ourselves in its very existence.

We are the arsenal and the arsenal is us. Since we can do no wrong, the arsenal can do no wrong.

We change in mid-stream and become minions to the arsenal, instead of its masters.

Now, unfortunately, it's a fact that we have never made such a vision a completely universal and equitable one. Some would always win, while others would lose. However, unlike today, it was never a zero-sum game to those that held pragmatic views and realistically achievable goals. We made choices to become a greater people.

The problem is that we never finished in creating true, positive and equitable universal greatness.

So we should ask:

Did we lack the will or just the ability?

Was it a choice to turn away from the complete achievement of our admirable goals or was it an impossibility to attain because we are all hampered by the trappings of human frailty?

Perhaps greatness itself is nothing but the glimpse of an illusion, a fabricated facade, from the perspective of those who only worship greatness and it is made at the expense of those who were never meant to benefit from it.

How worthy is having greatness if it wasn't meant to be shared by all, but it is only used as an incentive for the many to aggrandize the few?

What, if by changing the definition of what is great, we can judge our own degree of commitment to universal betterment?

That by creating definitions that depend on relying on the worst of human nature, instead of the best of it, we allow the prior, more noble, definitions to crumble away?

Perhaps by looking into the past that much of us knew so well, we can see were we did wrong:

In the past, we strove to build great things - Today, those great things are falling apart from neglect.

In the past, we achieved great things resolutely and effectively - Today, we find out that it's even hard to small things effectively.

In the past, great things were achieved to benefit the greater good - Today, we have abandoned the greater good for the sake of individual aggrandizement.

In the past, we classify great literature, great educators, great music and great art and the people who create them as admirable - Today, reject people like that and promote people who are only famous for being famous.

In the past, we built that arsenal based on its need - Today, we inculcate it into a symbiotic relationship that runs our very economy.

Where are today is that crossroads between polarization and gridlock versus achievement and progress.

What is fitting is that we can still make the choices about where we need to go. It only takes the strength of will to get there. The important thing is to make the case that our future greatness is dependent on promoting the many, instead of the few. That each of us are entitled to recognizing the greatness in each other.

How can we do this?

One thing that I can think of is redefining the meaning and accessibility to real wealth. Unfortunately, we currently have a delusional idea about the purpose of wealth and money. Many of us have this poorly conceived idea that wealth should be hoarded and not circulated. That we measure a person's worth by how much wealth that person can hoard. That the inability to hoard wealth signifies a moral failing.

We forget that it's not our own names that's printed on the money that we hoard, but the name of the nation in which we live. The purpose of money is to circulate it. To hoard it is to seize up the circulation of wealth as a body would cease to function properly when the blood flow seizes up.

We make the greater good an achievable goal. We value the educator, the artist, the writer, the public servant, the builder and the workers above the hoarder and the war machine attendant.

We go forward, instead of looking behind and going back. We remaster that arsenal and cease being its servants… And that's just one thing. We can apply the same principles to many others.

We do this by choosing people to man the ship of state who have made serving the greater good their life's work above the people who have sacrificed the many for the sake of the very few. We do this now and we continue to do this until we reach our true potential.

We strive to make a true greatness, instead of a false one. It won't be easy to get back on the right path, but it's not impossible either.

The choice is yours to go there.

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