Dictionary.com provides the following definition:

my·o·pi·a (n.)
Lack of discernment or long-range perspective in thinking or planning.

Is it just me or have the American people fallen into a kind of stupor that allows them to accept the myopic worldview force fed to them on a daily basis by an incompetent and corrupt government and a complicit media establishment?

I mean really, what gives? When did our great experiment in Democracy, so cleverly envisioned by our founding forefathers, become little more than an exercise in futility disguised as representational government? At what point did people decide that the only thing that mattered was the here and now? When did we decide that our responsibility ended at the edge of our yard? And how did we get to this point?

These are the kinds of questions that fill my mind so often these days, especially as I attempt to enter the arena of politics. As I sit and listen to all the madness coming from the halls of power, I have a hard time reconciling the widespread lack of concern from average people with the seemingly obvious demise of our way of life, and by extension, the lives of our future descendants. It has been said that when Native American elders faced an important decision, they projected their decisions ahead seven generations. Clearly, even if this is an exaggeration, the people who first settled, then tamed this country, wanted their culture to persevere throughout time, and the decisions they made with regards to land and resource usage and inter-tribal relations were designed to mitigate future strife among themselves and their offspring. Sure, they were decimated by European colonialists. But that failure to endure in the face of superior weaponry and a completely different worldview does not diminish their contemplative ways or the success they had for thousands of years. Their way of life and of living offered them satisfaction and prosperity on their terms without destroying that opportunity for future generations. Had we not wiped them out and forced the remainder onto reservations, we could have learned a lot from their way of thinking. But perhaps I digress…

In truth, I already know the answers to some of the questions I posed earlier. I understand that for most people, simply staying ahead of the monthly bills and keeping the kids in school, fed, and on the straight and narrow takes up most of the available emotional and intellectual energy we have. I understand that in an increasingly complex world, the number of things happening make it impossible to focus too much on any specific governmental action or societal shift. I understand that before we can worry about what takes place outside our own personal borders, we must take care of ourselves. But at some point in our individual lives, we should be able to come to an understanding of sorts that the world extends beyond our own doorstep, and that what happens out in that world will eventually reach up to our own steps and change the way we live our own lives. It is the disconnect between that reality and our own actions that makes me scratch my head in wonder.

The dangers of narrow-mindedness are not as apparent as the symptoms of it: massive fiscal debt and the looming day of reckoning; population growth and resource exploitation; diminished standing among the nations of the world; diminished ability of the people to advance the social ladder; a turn away from knowledge towards mythology. These are the symptoms of a society looking down the tunnel and seeing only a sliver of light. We assume that the answer lies in a straight, predetermined path, when the fact is we are determining the path based on the symptoms. We are trying to solve new problems with old and tired solutions that solve little while elongating the problems. We are pushing off the effects of our troubles on to future generations to contend with. It is not something to be proud of.

This is especially true of our leadership, who seem almost completely to focus on the here and now, the me and mine of situations, with a specific goal of benefiting themselves or pursuing an agenda out of line with the average citizen. And we, the people, allow this to continue by perpetuating the myopia they project onto us with their sound bites and their hot button issues. We magnify their ineffectiveness by returning them to power time and time again. We buy into the stereotypes and labeling offered to us as discourse, and all the while, the liberties that have been given to us in the blood of our predecessors are slowly stripped away. And still, aside from a little bit of complaining or small-scale activism, we let it continue unabated and unchallenged, and we continue to enable them with our own lack of action.

Humanity rolls on through it all. The question of how much longer or in what state of being is unknown, but the projections of our current paths and mindsets are not. Any amount of reason and critical thinking will ascertain that our system is broken, is breaking more each day, and will soon be a mere shadow of its original self if we continue to stand down. Indeed, it is not just our social and governmental constructs that face serious upheaval, but our very planet itself is changing, and with it, so too will the plight of humanity change.

American ideals of freedom, equality, respect and the rule of law have proved themselves to be a sound and sustainable form of government, so long as the governed remain involved and so long as those charged with governing remember whom they stand for. But if our tendency to close our eyes to the wrongs around us continues we will soon find ourselves under another form of government, one not sought by our founders, but instead more like the one they fled from.

We have the power to end our myopia. We have the ability to change our course. We have the duty to our children to leave them with a world of hope and opportunity. But we can only do so if we step out of our cocoons once in a while and fight for what is ours. The Declaration of Independence says that what is ours is nothing more than life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But to attain these things, we must work together, and we must work for the betterment of our shared future.

The lines are being drawn in the sand. On one side stands greed and self-interest. On the other stands cooperation and opportunity for all. Where will you choose to stand?

(cross posted at Bring It On!)