We judge America by our riches. By the things we can buy, by the inventions, by the rockets we send and the cars the rich can buy.
But there are rich in the poorest of the countries who also have cars and mansions. There are cars that can be purchased and nice phones in the worst of dictatorships. There are people in China who are free to speak their minds.
The question is how free are we to criticize America and how do others react to that. Do they become angry with you and send you death threats or try to take your life or is it seen as an opinion or something to fix. Are there people who face laws that make it more difficult for them, who are impacted by laws differently from others?
The question is not that a poor child can rise, that can happen in China too, the question is what is the probability that a poor child will rise if they work and study hard. The question is how hard must a poor family work to have food and a home.
It is not the wealth of the wealthy that is a sign of greatness, for every country has rich individuals, it is how the poor and marginalized are treated and how we are doing to fix that. It is about how secure are families. We must judge the greatness of a nation on how stressed is a parent about their kids’ future, a young couple with costs of birth, a middle-aged with healthcare, and the elderly with retirement.
In the past four years, our country and those who had the power and thus the responsibility of governance have done their best to make the world less clean, healthcare less available, retirement, less possible, the poor poorer, the world less safe, the justice less just.
Those who have those things assume that if they have it, it means it is a good country because they have it good. But the country is not great because one, two, or a million people are happy and secure, but only if all people feel happy and secure. Based on that metric, how can one possibly say that the US is a great country for its citizens? It has accomplished great things, but things that others have accomplished as well. China has more patents than us, four other countries reached the moon, many countries make cars and computers. What could be great about us, what should be great about us is that we are a nation of immigrants, that let everyone rise, but it is far from reality. The reality is that some are allowed to rise, those who are given that chance are reminded that there is a pit with millions who would be glad to take their spot.
This idea of competition makes people angry, suspicious. They are nice but have little goodwill. They help each other when it is convenient and are happy to watch others fail, just to count their own blessings.
We are the cause of Climate Change. We have 330 million people, but the amount of CO2 we produce in US and in China for the things we buy accounts for more than half of the CO2 of the planet. As we go forward, wanting more, buying more, for ourselves, we have a certain future of extinction. It will take us all, realizing that we are all humans, with different talents, different cultures, and different appearances, but with one future. That we make this future and we can only attain it together. It requires an end to divisions for sake of power, it requires an end to hate, an end to the feeling of inferiority. It requires facing the worst in ourselves and finding the best in ourselves and to forget ourselves so that we can work together, on survival.