Letter at Length

America forgot how to be unified

The United States is in imminent danger of being the country that has forgotten how to be a country, to be itself, and how to be loyal to itself. It has let slip the high point of unity enjoyed during and after World War II — a time when we could successfully take on huge problems as a country because we knew how to work together.

Today our country is driven by the false idols of faux/hyper individualism, libertarian self-centeredness, economic naiveté (code word ignorance), the utter mockery of religiosity parading as religion, the sacrifice of community for consumerism, a corporatocracy known for creating jobs in any country but our own, an axis of corruption between the demigods of finance and the politicians they own, a regulatory system groomed by and subservient to the Wall Street masters it should be reigning in. It is the picture of a country more obsessed with the mindless symbols of false patriotism during the endless election cycle than with the smallest measure of loyalty that could restore former meaning and a measure of luster to the word "country".

I like looking back and remembering the cooperative feeling permeating my society during the '50s. I made the deep cognitive association back then between loyalty and patriotism. I remember a comfortable, generous patriotism, one that would normally express in ways that bound us together as a people with a shared identity, a shared prosperity, a unity of purpose and mutuality. It put into practice the wisdom expressed in our motto, "E Pluribus Unum," or "out of the many, one." The motto both recognizes and channels the value of unity.

Today we see disunity practiced as a growth industry, expressed in political posturing, the distortions of infighting, inevitably leading to the familiar no-holds-barred race to the usual depth. Unity is the first casualty when politics struts the coarse visage.

I miss that shared value of working together, which we formerly experienced first and second hand from the unity famously minted during the Second World War. It was to me like wallpaper, background everywhere.

For stark contrast, I want the middle class to notice how the once-vital working class has been destroyed. They should feel likewise threatened, yes, but more importantly, feel deeply and listen to the still echoing shriek of that American tragedy. This is perhaps the deepest gash in our collective experience that the soul of our humanity, our patriotism, is now being called upon to heal.

Jerry Nutter


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