Sunday, April 06, 2008

Is America seriously headed off on the wrong track?

I half agree and half disagree with the poll conclusion given by the New York Times article entitled "81% in Poll Say Nation Is Headed on Wrong Track". Sure, I am confident that 4 out of 5 Americans are unhappy with a lot of what they hear and see and feel about "the direction of the country", whether it be Iraq, the so-called "War on Terror", the economy, big banks, Wall Street, health care, education, crime, government (too big or too small), etc. OTOH, the idea that there is some general consensus as to what "the" direction or "the" track should be is complete nonsense. There are over 300 million of us Americans and each one of us is entitled to our own personal view of what we think the direction of the country should be. In truth, each of us heads our own direction and the "direction" or "track" of the country is "the sum of all curves", the sum and average of all of our "tracks" and "directions" put together. Maybe what this poll really tells us that that we are all becoming much more self-centered (our selves, our families, our neighborhoods, our peer groups) and less oriented towards the concept of a nation. We see it most emphatically on the far right and far left, where compromise, a time-honored American tradition is now considered a base evil.

One question I wish the Times had asked: Do you personally feel that you know what the right track of the country should be? I'm confident that the number of "Yes!" responses would be quite high. That is the problem. Without a renewed conception of compromise, little progress can be made to get the country onto "the right" track.

Another question I have is the role of the Internet in our current state of affairs. Originally, the thought was that the Internet would help to break down boundaries and facilitate communications, but now it seems that there is a very dark side to both of those "improvements." Enhanced communications is now used as a weapon to attack and destroy your opponents. Sure, boundaries are gone, but only in the sense that online combat between opposing groups is now hand-to-hand.

Somewhere along the way we forgot that "the pen is mightier than the sword", and now we are seeing so many more "pens", whther they be blogs, tabloid editorials, talk radio shows, cable TV shows, or other forms of "New Media" being utilized first and foremost as weapons to beat down and destroy your opponents, rather than being tools for seeking understanding, reconciliation, peace, and harmony.

Sure, maybe America is in fact "on the wrong track", but who provided all these wonderful new tools to help fellow Americans push the country so far off of a common, compromise view of what a "common track" should be?

-- Jack Krupansky


At 4:45 PM , Blogger Lee Devlin said...

Hi Jack,

There are a lot of arm chair presidential candidates out there. I'd wager that you'd get a similar response if you asked them, 'Are you better than the current list of candidates to act as the president of the United States?'

As a member of the minority in the country who feels like I don't have the answer to the 'correct' direction, I can only imagine that people have been checking their portfolios and noticed that they are headed in the wrong direction in the past 6 months. If that situation turns around, perhaps the satisifaction with the country's direction will likewise improve.


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