Mohamed Khodr’s Column
On January 20, 2001 America proudly and peacefully witnesses the inauguration of President George W. Bush as its 43rd President. The peaceful transfer of government and power on this day despite a raucous and divisive election is a testament to our democracy, constitution, and foresight of our founding fathers.
As Americans we are truly blessed by the freedoms and rights guaranteed to all citizens by our constitution and bill of rights.
We value our freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of ownership, freedom of movement, freedom from an oppressive government, freedom of assembly, our right to pursue injustice and due process, freedom to pursue our life’s dreams, our liberties and our happiness that we live in a free land where our government rules by the consent of the people.
How little we appreciate our blessings and how little we as Americans know that we the MANY have surrendered much of these freedoms to the FEW.
The few who have hijacked our freedom to know and our freedom to act.
The few who have the money, the access, the tools of communication, the skills to spin and manipulate, the corrupters with the audacity and aggressive tactics to ensure success for their protgs and single minded issues.
The few who have spent billions of dollars to ensure a government beholden to them and not to us; the few who write, edit, and filter the words, images, and actions of our government to serve their purpose while giving us just enough to satisfy our minimalist demands.
. Why has our country gone from “WE THE PEOPLE” to “WE THE FEW”? Affluence, Influence, Apathy, Alienation, Intellectual Laziness, Selfishness, Impatience, and a passion for the quick, easy, simple, bottom line self satisfying mental thought and physical satisfaction. In other words, its OUR fault, yours and mine.
I, too, have failed my country in this regard. We as individuals and as a society have mentally and physically degenerated to a thoughtless superficial existence swimming aimlessly in an overwhelming sea of “NOISE”.
Will someone please give me a cassette, a Cliff’s notes or video on “HOW TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS PSYCHOBABBLE ALL MEANS?.” There’s the rub, America.
Try to listen to the conversations of others or better yet listen to your own conversations with others. Do you tend to focus on “entertainment issues” (Survivor, Temptation Island, Madonna, Fashion: i.e.. what’s the latest “hottest” fad, movie, entertainer, gift, diet, drink etc.).
Do you focus on “sports”–the salary of a ballplayer, the super bowl as an excuse to gather in a home for beer and nachos, your children’s games etc.?
Do you talk about the weather daily? “isn’t it gorgeous outside or can you believe this weather or I bet you it’s them satellites up there screwing with our weather or our weatherman is wrong again”.
Do you focus on “money issues”–my salary, pension plan, 401k, stock market, treasuries, CD’s, your bank’s customer service.”
Do you discuss “things’–(I just bought a new car (it actually has a soul just like the commercial says, I just bought the latest computer, the latest video games, video camera, TV, gifts, jewelry, clothes etc.).
Are you always talking about your children to others or occasionally your parents. Does your life and weekends revolve on TV, sex, drugs, food, fun, and emails?
Do you know who your neighbors are, have you invited each other to coffee or meals, do you know much about their family life, or are you content to see each other at the mail box, garbage dump, or passing each other.
How many hours a month do you meet with people just for conversation with the radio, TV, and stereo shut off?
Do you have many friends who call you on your birthday, when you’re sick, just drop in to see you or take you to lunch?
Is sending your mother and father a card once a year the fulfillment of your parental duties?
Do you go to a place of worship out of a sense of duty or love or is religion relegated to the comedy channel?
Do you feel tense in a crowded elevator unable to start a conversation?
Do you cross the street when someone is dressed funny with tattoos of a different color is approaching?
Everyone in America loves to whine and complain about everything. Our work dominates our lives and gives us purpose for waking up. We “clutter” our world with “noise” and complain that “Time” is our enemy. Where does the time go we ask? In this big beautiful country we live by “small” talk.
This is just a sampling of our “pursuit of happiness’. America is hip, hot, hungry, and intellectually humbled.
It is tragic beyond belief that even University faculty, graduates, political leaders, and our media are just as uninformed (beyond their individual fields) and superficially minded on world affairs as our general population, after all that’s where they come from.
Time constraints, competitiveness to be the first, insecurity, fear of ignorance and failing, search for economic and personal reward and our American personality trait to avoid conflict and confrontation is a prime “tabulae rasa turf” for the “FEW” to indoctrinate our psyche, our thoughts and spoon feed us our opinions.
We have become the lost sheep of the west in need of a nursing shepherd.
Our priorities our simple: be rich, happy, successful i.e. the “pursuit of happiness” with “liberty” FROM caring, loving, touching, worshiping, learning, a serious thought, a serious conversation, a serious friendship, a serious relationship, a serious involvement in neighborhood, community, city, state, and country, a serious attachment to the “others” unlike us and the world.
Our “world” is the boundary lines of our home, apartment, car, office, computer and what concerns me.
We live by the “herd” mentality. If there’s a joke about any religion we laugh although inside we are uncomfortable. It’s our desperate need to conform and fit in. A comedian who bashes God has more respect than a man of the cloth. After all we’re “men and women” of the new millennium–whatever the hell that means.
Our world is superficially bliss because we tout ignorance. A student is ostracized for raising his/her hand too often in class, a girl is alienated because she doesn’t “put out” on dates, a boy interested more in schools than girls is gay, teens are ashamed to be seen with their parents in the mall, parents must work two jobs to buy Nike’s $200 sneakers for their child.
Oh, my lovely America, who is responsible for this degenerative decadence in our spirit. Why don’t we care anymore? Why is our existence defined by “in” or “out”; “yes” or “no”, “black” or “white”, “for me” or “against me”? Are we so simple that we can only manage dichotomous decisions?
What the hell is happening to me that no one wants to talk about serious issues like death and life, religion, poverty, pollution, racism, domestic and international issues, too many bombs and too much killing, hunger, health, water, global warming, the ozone, parenting, taking care of our elderly? Besides special interest groups “we the people” are numb and dumbed with too much “noise” and too much radiation from incessant talking image filled boxes that define our “life du jour”.
Is there anyone out there interested in Peace and Justice anywhere and everywhere? If not, then let me end with a clich you’ll understand: “Beam me up God, for there is no intelligent life down here.”
Whazzzuppp!!! America, my country “’tis of thee, from sea to shining sea I have failed your promise and blessing to me: WE THE PEOPLE have failed you.
God have mercy on us all and forgive us our ungratefulness to His many blessings and for our failure to stand up for peace and justice for all humanity.
Mr. Mohamed Khodr is an American Muslim physician and a native from the Middle East. He has worked in Academic Medicine and Public health with national and international health experience. He is a freelance writer who often writes columns on the Palestinian cause, Islam and on America’s Foreign Policy in the Middle East. He lives in the Washington DC area.