I read a disturbing article today, claiming that we are now in a post-American world. The premise of the article is that America’s power and influence are declining, but more than that, the power and influence of other nations is rising. The overall gist though, was a loss of American supremacy.
I guess we could say it’s a yin-yang type of effect. Basically, the image people around the world hold of the United States is worsening, which by default, creates a vacuum or void — also by default, as people’s opinion of the U.S worsen, they thus begin to view other countries as more favorable. According to the article, the conclusion is that the United Sates is no longer the undisputed, pre-eminent power on the world stage.
Okay, so what does this have to do with positivity? A great deal. A big part of the problem lies within ourselves and the American people have actually caused, or greatly helped to cause, our own decline.
We can reasonably say that America has become very divided and we see escalating tensions not only within the government, but among the people as well. Many Americans have literally drawn a line in the sand and declared a battle line. When once we worked together to solve our problems, we now shout and throw blame at everyone and anyone who has a differing political, religious and social view. In a sense, we are in a non-combat civil war. Rest assured, the world sees this and is understandably very concerned — in their minds, the one country they saw as a constant steady, is now so divided, that it can’t possibly be the beacon of light and hope it once was.
The questions is…are they right?
To a large extent, and based upon research shared in the article, they are indeed correct. We have to recognize that perception is reality, so if we here at home see this almost violent divide, imagine what the rest of the world thinks?
Below are excerpts of the article from The Washington Post, which I think should shock and worry most Americans:
“In London last week, I met a Nigerian man who succinctly expressed the reaction of much of the world to the United States these days. ‘Your country has gone crazy, he said, with a mixture of outrage and amusement. ‘I’m from Africa. I know crazy, but I didn’t ever think I would see this in America.’
A sadder sentiment came from a young Irish woman I met in Dublin who went to Columbia University, founded a social enterprise and has lived in New York for nine years. “I’ve come to recognize that, as a European, I have very different values than America these days,” she said. “I realized that I have to come back to Europe, somewhere in Europe, to live and raise a family.”
“The world has gone through bouts of anti-Americanism before. But this one feels very different. First, there is the sheer shock at what is going on, the bizarre candidacy of Donald Trump, which has been followed by an utterly chaotic presidency. The chaos is at such a fever pitch that one stalwart Republican, Karl Rove, described the president this week as “vindictive, impulsive and shortsighted” and his public shaming of Attorney General Jeff Sessions as “unfair, unjustified, unseemly and stupid.” Kenneth Starr, the onetime grand inquisitor of President Bill Clinton, went further, calling Trump’s recent treatment of Sessions “one of the most outrageous — and profoundly misguided — courses of presidential conduct I have witnessed in five decades in and around the nation’s capital.”
The article goes on to say that China is quickly filling the void left by an America in chaos and that the EU is now emboldened to also fill that void. It also presented shocking statistics from a Pew Research study, which indicates that people holding a favorable view of the United States has fallen to a low of 49% and that belief in America as a beacon of light and hope is rapidly declining.
Our image is taking a real beating and deservedly so. It’s common to hear people ask in dismay “what is going on in America?” Why have we become so polarized and negative? Could foreign agitators be stirring up trouble? Of course — that is a tactic employed by adversaries throughout the ages and in the internet age, it’s done easily and stealthily. Is it because our politicians have used a scorched earth policy to get elected? Absolutely. Our politicians are solely focused on their own election and they’ve put nation last and themselves first. Is it due to political and social differences? Of course — but more than ever, we are letting our differences divide us and the results will not be good, by any means.
What are our differences?
If you’ve ever seen an episode of “All in the Family” in re-runs, you quickly realize that the issues they tackled in a show that aired well over 40 years ago, are still the same ones we’re debating today:
- Gay rights
- Gun rights
- Social welfare programs
I want to share two quotes on this issue, which I think are very germane to the state of affairs in the United States today:
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” – Abraham Lincoln
“But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand” – Matthew 12:25
So this brings me back to positivity
America’s meteoric rise to power was due to a “can-do,” get it done attitude. We were once a nation of positive thinkers who put aside our individual differences to build a great nation. Today, we are fast losing that positive thinking and we’re replacing it with negativity and defeatism — where we once saw boundless opportunity and potential, today, we see walls and obstacles.
Can we change course?
I truly believe that we can change course. However, that change will only come if the American people make the conscious decision to let go of the extremism now sweeping the land. Whether it be liberal extremism or conservative extremism, any one radical political ideology is going to pose a serious direct threat to our country.
- To save our country, we need to stop politicians and the media from turning us into opposing teams — the only people who benefit from creating this chasm are the politicians and the divisive media, and they intentionally add fuel to the fire. It’s imperative that we get back to a place in which we accept that we have different ways of thinking and that we’re not mortal enemies because of those differences. Yes, this may be a challenge because our politicians and the media have a policy of inciting conflict between liberal and conservative Americans — that tension is purposely designed, because it keeps us distracted and takes the people’s eyes of our shared agenda and national interests — it also helps them get elected to power and the media making boatloads of money. Ask yourself this: who benefits from a divided America most? The answer is our politicians, multi-national corporations and, our adversaries.
It is mission-critical that we stop seeing ourselves in terms of opposing teams. And as important, we should never let our identities be solely defined as “liberal or conservative” — after all, aren’t we so much more than our political ideology?
Political psychologists do believe we can right the course of the country. They are however, almost unanimous in agreeing that this can only happen if liberals and conservatives alike step outside of their own opinions to try and understand why the other side believes as it does. That means escaping our respective bubbles.
- Boycott the news now and then. A big part of our problem is that news has become divided into political ideology — if you’re liberal, you head to liberal news sources and if you’re conservative, you skew toward exclusively conservative news sources. No news outlet in a free country should have a political ideology, but, short of changing that, the answer is to avoid those one-sided news sources for a while. Take a break from political news and read a book or take up a hobby. I have ‘news black-out days’ in which I avoid visiting news websites or channels — I may occasionally check a newswire to see if something big has happened, but that’s about it. Try it…it really reduces stress levels.
- Tell our elected officials that we will no longer tolerate scaremongering or fear tactics — because let’s face it, politicians on both sides love to stir the pot by using hysteria and fear. We should put them on notice that we expect them to be professional and to show bi-partisan leadership in working with the opposition to get the job of governing done right.
- We are not here to be judge, jury and executioner. When once our differences made us stronger, today, we are causing them to make us weaker. We are a diverse country and that is a good thing. We are a nation made up of all races, religions and political views — we always have been. My views are not shared by all, just as yours aren’t. We shouldn’t judge and condemn people just because they’re different from ourselves.
- Don’t believe everything you hear and read. The media twists and alters the news and I think we can agree that is abundantly clear. We should make it a point to check out other news sources and not just ones that bolster our own political views. Since we have so many politically-aligned news outlets, what they “report” is now highly suspect. Stepping outside of our bubble is a positive thing.
- Embrace positivity! Liberals don’t have an evil plot to destroy America and Conservatives are not gun-toting Bible thumpers who only care about big business. We’re all Americans and we need to start acting like it — that means accepting that we’re all different and adopting a positive, ‘can-do’ attitude once again.
Are we in a post-American world? Perhaps. But I truly feel that if we we’re not now, we will be unless we change course. Americans are some of the most generous, warm people in the world — let’s show the world that our government truly is “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” I have the utmost faith in my fellow Americans that we can…and will, put this political warfare behind us.