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xchrom

(108,903 posts)
Tue Jan 1, 2013, 07:05 AM Jan 2013

Everything We Tell Ourselves About America and the World Is Wrong [View all]

http://www.alternet.org/visions/everything-we-tell-ourselves-about-america-and-world-wrong



Every culture has a Story of the People to give meaning to the world. Part conscious and part unconscious, it consists of a matrix of agreements, narratives, and symbols that tell us why we are here, where we are headed, what is important, and even what is real. I think we are entering a new phase in the dissolution of our Story of the People, and therefore, with some lag time, of the edifice of civilization built on top of it.

Sometimes I feel intense nostalgia for the cultural mythology of my youth, a world in which there was nothing wrong with soda pop, in which the Superbowl was important, in which the world’s greatest democracy was bringing democracy to the world, in which science was going to make life better and better. Life made sense. If you worked hard you could get good grades, get into a good college, go to grad school or follow some other professional path, and you would be happy. With a few unfortunate exceptions, you would be successful if you obeyed the rules of our society: if you followed the latest medical advice, kept informed by reading the New York Times, and stayed away from Bad Things like drugs. Sure there were problems, but the scientists and experts were working hard to fix them. Soon a new medical advance, a new law, a new educational technique, would propel the onward improvement of life. My childhood perceptions were part of this Story of the People, in which humanity was destined to create a perfect world through science, reason, and technology, to conquer nature, transcend our animal origins, and engineer a rational society.

From my vantage point, the basic premises of this story seemed unquestionable. After all, it seemed to be working in my world. Looking back, I realize that this was a bubble world built atop massive human suffering and environmental degradation, but at the time one could live within that bubble without need of much self-deception. The story that surrounded us was robust. It easily kept anomalous data points on the margins.

Since my childhood in the 1970s, that story has eroded at an accelerating rate. More and more people in the West no longer believe that civilization is fundamentally on the right track. Even those who don’t yet question its basic premises in any explicit way seem to have grown weary of it. A layer of cynicism, a hipster self-awareness has muted our earnestness. What was once so real, say a plank in a party platform, today is seen through several levels of “meta” filters to parse it in terms of image and message. We are like children who have grown out of a story that once enthralled us, aware now that it is only a story.
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K&R DeSwiss Jan 2013 #1
... xchrom Jan 2013 #2
Yeah, but if you happen to realize this consciously you are thought insane if you mention it Fumesucker Jan 2013 #3
nicely put. nt xchrom Jan 2013 #5
Yes, well put. I might add, "and the man claiming to have sight would be king and he'd poke out the rhett o rick Jan 2013 #19
ive known "America" was a farce sense birth willhe Jan 2013 #4
they talk about freedom in the world but dont want it for everyone in america. Flashmann Jan 2013 #7
+1. SammyWinstonJack Jan 2013 #8
The 1% want and have unlimited freedom, supported by the blood and guns of our soldiers. nt valerief Jan 2013 #10
What we're really trying to free from the clutches of the despots Jackpine Radical Jan 2013 #26
Exactly right. Everybody born into any of the underclasses always knows that the stories are lies. Egalitarian Thug Jan 2013 #34
Please...Like all of us, you didn't know anything "at birth". whathehell Jan 2013 #36
K&R newfie11 Jan 2013 #6
Bloody well written! nt Demo_Chris Jan 2013 #9
Isn't it, though? Delphinus Jan 2013 #20
autoxchromeDURec KG Jan 2013 #11
I grew up believing it too. zeemike Jan 2013 #12
Powerful...thanks. Faryn Balyncd Jan 2013 #13
Other than someone feeling depressed, does the author offer any concrete examples? randome Jan 2013 #14
It's not unproductive to arrive at the scene of a massive automobile accident obamamyprez Jan 2013 #18
Did you read it? tama Jan 2013 #22
at the same time live outside of America JCMach1 Jan 2013 #15
It angers me when lessens learned are allowed to fall by the wayside... socialindependocrat Jan 2013 #16
I grew up in a bubble that lasted until elementary school obamamyprez Jan 2013 #17
This message was self-deleted by its author rhett o rick Jan 2013 #21
Eisenstein is a rare bird. GliderGuider Jan 2013 #23
Another piece by Einstein JReed Jan 2013 #28
True. But change happens superpatriotman Jan 2013 #24
Charles makes that point in his talks GliderGuider Jan 2013 #25
Equality only looks equal to one looking down on others. n/t RKP5637 Jan 2013 #27
All of America is based on myth JReed Jan 2013 #29
Our brains are not the boss! nt gulliver Jan 2013 #30
I adore Charles Eisenstein. Question for those who click on this post.... OneGrassRoot Jan 2013 #31
+1 xchrom Jan 2013 #32
We have finally qualified and quantified our very existence Rex Jan 2013 #33
Yes! whatchamacallit Jan 2013 #35
k/r marmar Jan 2013 #37
K&R woo me with science Jan 2013 #38
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