A shared perspective amongst most people is that as long as others have it worse, we cannot honestly say our life is terrible. A majority would agree that complaining when you live in Beverly Hills is feeble when compared to surviving in a third world country. This mindset sets the metaphorical bar for suffering. It is telling a society that unless you are truly dying, there is no room for complaints. Albert Camus said it best, “Men are never convinced of your reasons, of your sincerity, of the seriousness of your sufferings, except by your death. So long as you are alive, your case is doubtful; you have a right only to their skepticism”. As a result, we live in a time where the overall mental health of our citizens has small importance in comparison to the quality of life we may live.
When discussing the United States, from the outside, it would seem as if we were one of the most opportunistic countries in the world. It would be possible to believe the yellow brick road rumors, the new beginnings that coming to this land offered. The dark history that clouds the States still stains the foundation of the country today. Although many changes exist, most of these have, in a way, modernized in the form of which most people are never aware. Slavery was a giant detriment on the nation, years after its abolition, racism was everywhere. As we move into modern times, it would seem as if this has gotten better. This country saw its first black president, black entertainers dominated the charts, and the society as a whole seemed to be getting more accepting. The subtle fact that the ‘ghetto’ was single-handedly created to manage institutionalized racism or that the drug war and prison systems targeted minorities slid under the radar of most Americans. Something that seems common when touching on the many controversial subjects today: immigration, abortion, economy, and more. These discussions are involved with wealth and status, as well as maintaining a social and economic standing within society; all of which cater to the rich and elite. Since things didn’t seem as bad as other countries, we were considered privileged, despite the pink elephant in every discussion that ignored the issues going on within our communities and corrupt government. Yet, most people continue to see this country with rose-colored glasses.
Reference a country like North Korea, where television tunes to state-controlled domestic programming. Aside from a closed local network, the internet does not exist. Most Koreans know nothing about the world beyond what brainwashes them into believing. As extreme as this is, it is a fact as clear as day to everyone. A similar attribute that one can apply about most countries we consider radical: despite a moral objective, no disguise lies amongst the reality of those countries. In America, we succumb to the idea that we can have everything we have ever wanted. This idea comes with the image of the “American Dream,” white picket fences, and families alike in the sitcoms. A happy, long-lived life with a big family, a one size fits all reality. As we emerge into the new decade, it has become blatantly obvious this dream is smoke and mirrors posing as an opportunity. Our freedom has become a question as the real issues rise to light under the veil the Statue of Liberty.
George Orwell once said, “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is a strength.” As the glass continues to shatter, it becomes clear what we must do as a nation. It means accepting that no one can be perfect, and change is inevitable. It is choosing love over hate, and connection above power. As we begin to admit to ourselves that we are living within a snow globe in the middle of a land mine, the right will unravel. One of the biggest downfalls of man links to the ego. It is hard for nearly everyone to admit error. Alas, we must accept in this mistake there lies a solution for improvement. To rise, we must first recognize that we’ve fallen.