I was involved in a very interesting conversation, recently. An older gentleman recognized me as the author of this column and wanted to express himself about the overall tenor of my work. He appreciated my views on most everything but, as opposed to my expressed sentiment that America is on it way out and down now that greed has become the official national passion, he was much more certain of the importance and long term hopes for America as a nation. He stated his belief that this nation is the most important country in the world, not only as a symbol of what is right and good but as the example that the rest of this planet's people should follow.
Our conversation was pleasant and we agreed to disagree, I still claiming that the proof of importance is in the charity of a nation, not in the size of its army nor its ability to gain and hold material wealth through the exploitation of other humans.
I wish now that the following had fallen into my collection of trivia just a bit earlier as I think it would have proven my point even better than my normal eloquence ever could. Think about what the list says about America's assumed self importance. I'm not sure we have the right to such a self centered belief until we put out the effort to change some of the world's larger discrepancies.
"If we could shrink the Earth's population to a small town of just one hundred people, this would be the ratios for all humans:
The town would consist of 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 8 from the Western Hemisphere (North & South America, excluding the USA), 8 from Africa and just 6 from the United States
Fifty-one would be female and forty-nine would be males.
Seventy would be non-white, only thirty would be white.
Sixty-six would be non-Christian, 33 Christian.
Eighty would live in substandard housing.
Seventy would be unable to read.
Fifty would suffer from malnutrition.
One would be near death, one near birth.
One would have a college education.
50% of all of the small town's wealth would be owned by just six people, and all of those people would be from the United States."
We are such a minority in the planet's population and religion and race and, well, you get the point. We, nevertheless, take the wealth and labor of the world as our due and use the energy and resources of anyone who doesn't understand the concept of a living wage and exploit them until they are no longer of any use to our corporations or until they realize how badly we have treated them. Then we just close down operations and reopen in another country that has yet to be exploited and the cycle continues.
It is for this international nastiness that I have such little hope for our nation's future. The world will eventually catch on to our greed and, like Korea and Taiwan and Germany, become much more adept at our game and will begin taking advantage of the Third World poor even more thoroughly than we have.
Either that or these same poor will figure out just how much those six Americans are making off their efforts and will rise up in a world-wide revolution and, before you know it, Nikes and Chevys will once again be "Made in America" not out of altruism but because it will be the only place their executives aren't the target of every ex-worker with a pitchfork.
No matter what eventually comes to pass, the reality is that our wonderful Capitalist system will be our downfall unless we change our nationalistic attitudes and learn to share with those less fortunate both inside and outside our fragile borders. Greed may be good, but it will eventually prove fatal, as well.
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