- Posted October 10, 2013 by
San Francisco, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Shutdown over: What next?
Its time to practice what we preach!
When we think about the events happening in our country lately, we may find it hard to believe that our great nation is on a path to preserve and shine in its hard earned exceptionalism. It becomes hard to believe that America is willing to lead the nations to develop and protect successful, working, democratic political and social systems promising civil liberties and economic progress for everyone without any discrimination. Let us consider the ongoing government shutdown. We elect our representatives in a democracy to find the problems in government, fix them and provide better governance. What they have done is to shut the government down which defeats the fundamental purpose of our political system. The point of contention among our representatives is The Affordable Care Act which by itself is a law passed by our representatives in a democratic manner and upheld by the other pillars of our democracy namely the executive and judiciary. As a common man, all I can decipher from this is that our representatives decided to shut down the government and fail to discharge their duties because they don’t have faith in the system in which they are a part off to resolve their differences. Instead, they decided to punish the people for having faith in them.
We in America criticize that people are deprived of civil liberties in countries with authoritarian regimes but lets take a moment to think about the state of our civil liberties. We have a “legal data collection program” run by our National Security Agency which collects “metadata” from every aspect of the lives of billions of people across the world and that of its own citizens without their knowledge, with scant respect for their privacy in the name of national security. We have 35 states which ban same-sex marriages and many of them do not protect LGBT community against discrimination at their work places. Our constitution grants us freedom of speech and expression but how are we using it? Some people in our society use this liberty to make religiously intolerant, disgusting and reprehensible movies that trigger riots across the world which puts the lives of our own citizens in danger. We have still a long way to go in providing equal opportunities for people indiscriminative of their gender, race and ethnicity.
The founding fathers of this great nation dreamt of building a country that provides the freedom which includes the opportunity to success and prosperity and an upward social mobility achieved through hard work. Has everyone of our fellow Americans been able to realize this great American dream? 95% of the income gains in the past three years of recession where people worked harder than ever, saved less than ever and spent less than ever, had gone to top 1% of the earning population. In short, rich has grown richer, poor has become poorer and the middle class is living a life of hand to mouth paying off debts after losing all their savings due to the reckless game played by the well-to-do in Wall Street.
We have been fighting war against terrorism for the past 10 years. We have invaded several countries in order to bring them peace and democracy. Have we been able to do what we intended to do so far? Is there peace and stability in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya and other war torn middle eastern countries? Can we expect the world to believe in our credibility when we accuse countries like North Korea and Iran of developing weapons of mass destruction? What does it say when our Nobel peace prize winning president advocates military action when a supposedly authoritative Russian president advocates diplomacy? How can we accuse Russia for anti-LGBT laws when we are not willing to do enough to protect our own LGBT brothers and sisters? How can we accuse China of illegal hacking when our government “legally” hacks into the computer systems of every government in the world?
I understand that the above are simple questions without straight forward answers. There can be legitimate reasons for what our government has done and has been doing. America is still the greatest world superpower, it is still the best democracy and it is still exceptional in what it does and in what it stands for. I am only concerned about how our current state of affairs portray us to this world. I don’t think we are portraying ourselves as a successful model of working political and social system for the billions of people across the world looking for a life of peace and prosperity. By failing to stand by our ideals and values, we are exposing that we are a part of system that is not working in the way it is meant to be. The increasing political brinkmanship, extremist ideologies, social and economic inequalities in our country is only helping other forms of authoritative and political systems across the world gain popularity, support and recognition. Many emerging nations in Africa and Asia increasingly believe that China’s model of political system is providing better stability and economic progress. Why wouldn’t they believe so? Despite all evils, nations like China, Russia, Iran and Syria have a working government and not a government shutdown. Its high time that we as a nation realize our responsibilities, discard narrow partisanships and work in a truly democratic manner to achieve healthier economic and social progress. We cannot preach democracy to other nations by force but only by practicing what we preach.