Salon Discussion #2
This is just a brief lesson on the state of our society in general. As we look back on the last five years, America seems to be experiencing a kind of decline or collapse “unveiling” our less than stellar beliefs and behaviors falling very short of our American ideals. This did not happen overnight.
In 1971, American President Richard Nixon severed the links between the dollar and gold standard as part of a broad economic plan. With the absence of constraints on the dollar and other currencies, we began to print money, not backed by gold assets, to cover debts. This resulted in an explosion of more debt worldwide. Some have suggested that the monetary system, consisting of mostly freely floating currencies, led the U.S. from being producers to more consumption driven. The American Dream became defined as even more aspirational for fortune and money without regard for earning it with integrity and through a honorable means. Consumerism spread like a virus with people, mostly poor, spending the most on luxury goods. Many tried to keep up with the fictional Joneses or now the modern day real life Kardashians – – whichever you prefer. Americans vigorously pursued the American Dream resorting to signaling – – looking rich with an expensive car even if they lived pay check to pay check. Thinking that the entire world revolves around your own needs, money and possessions created a culture exhibiting both materialistic and narcissistic traits.
No more focus on ideals and values as the cornerstone for success. The mantra “greed is good” symbolized our culture not just here but abroad as well. In reality, however, social mobility was really illusory as studies have shown a huge wealth gab with the top top 1% of U.S. earners now holding more wealth than all of the middle class. Federal reserve data also indicates that from 1989 to 2019, wealth became increasingly concentrated in the top 1% ( >$11 million) and top 10% ( >$1.2 million). More specifically, 10% of households held 70% of the country’s wealth while the bottom 50% held only 2%. This was due in large part to the corporate stock ownership concentration in those segments of the population (the bottom 50% own little, if any, corporate stock). As all of this was taking place, our societal indoctrination system, particularly entertainment and media etc., was promoting a fantasy lifestyle. Even beauty became a kind of currency as the rise of cosmetic procedures, eating disorders, bullying and “IT” factor aspirational goals preoccupied our youth. Unfettered capitalism, as we’ve practiced in the United States of America, does what it was designed to do – – commoditize almost everything even human bodies for profit until reaching, as some have speculated, eventual exhaustion or collapse.
So how does this broader societal reality impact the educational indoctrination system and what comes first – – the individual or the collective society agenda? Generations X, Y and Z have been fully indoctrinated in the greed is good, money equals value in society mentality but what about Generation Alpha (the new batch of babies)? The world-wide pandemic, isolation and lost family and friends forced some young people and “US” to relook at our choices, relationships, mental/physical/spiritual health and values/priorities. Even though social media is everywhere, when society and popular culture collapses people tend to go back to their roots – – reconnecting, reprioritizing and ultimately “unveiling” what is really important from a human perspective. The final outcome is yet to be realized but the TOWER moment could certainly be here.
For those who celebrate the Lunar New Year in 2022, which officially begins on the first of February, the occasion could mark a pivotal moment toward positive CHANGE following the collective challenges in recent years. The Year of the Tiger embodies both bravery and courage symbolizing resilience and strength even in times of struggle. As Americans, we are indeed built for this challenge. There is always hope for a better tomorrow since the democratic ideals and core values held deeply within the American experiment are still relevant today. So take a look at the writing prompts below and see what thoughts come to mind? Depending on what you believe tells a lot about your mindset and the potential future score (less than 0-100) for our next generation.
- EDUCATION INDOCTRINATES US, USING A SOMETIMES INCOMPLETE AND FALSE NARRATIVE, WITH THE IDEA OF AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM AND OUR RIGHT TO RULE THE WORLD. Should this be the standard? How do we alter the educational indoctrination system to provide a more complete and accurate perspective on the great American experiment?
- WEALTH HAS BEEN DEFINED AS WHATEVER GAVE us/U.S. VALUE? What values should we prioritize and promote going forward in 2022?