The United States and Us

The United States and Us

Today’s Daily Paradox is kindly contributed by Bob Gattie, a Terrific Mentor.

It expresses his personal views.

Like many of my generation I grew up admiring the United States for its “can-do” mentality, it’s sense of egalitarianism, it’s wealth, generosity, and everlasting optimism.

I felt blessed when offered a Mellon Scholarship at The Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh in the mid 1960’s. I enjoyed discovering as much of the country as I could afford as a student and then being thrown into my first full-time job in the maelstrom of New York City. I learned a lot and made many friends, most of whom I am still in regular contact with.

After some time in Europe, I returned to work in the U.S. in the mid-70’s before jobs in Africa, Europe, then settling in Singapore over thirty years ago. Both children benefited from an education in leading U.S. Universities.

I feel an understanding and appreciation of the country and its culture and yet I am thoroughly disappointed, deceived, dumbfounded, frustrated, and confused, as to what is now going on. And I suspect I am not the only one….

The basic value system seems to have been jettisoned; the rule of law is in danger of being overthrown; revered institutions are crumbling, along with outdated infrastructure; civilised dialogue has evaporated into the dystopian Trump / Fox airwaves and puerile Tweets, where confrontation and partisanship is rampant……In short, the country seems to be on the point of imploding.

And this at a time when healing, generosity of spirit, unity, compassion, basic humanity, and those qualities formerly associated with the U.S., are needed more than ever. What can we do? How can we help? Indeed, can we help?

Obviously, first, Americans need to help themselves by recognising the dangers in continuing to support the corrupt, short-sighted, selfish regime that is presently in charge of the political and legal agenda; an agenda that, domestically, is leading to an even greater divide between rich and poor; the educated and those who have little or no opportunity of having an education; the medically insured and those who need to rely on a totally inadequate public health system.

And a foreign policy that continues to belittle the efforts, dismantle the accumulated experience, and frustrate the global initiatives of most of the multinational organisations to which it has formerly contributed its support.

But, as unable-to-vote non-Americans who grieve for the country, is there anything to be done as it is in no one’s interest that the country continue down its present self-destructive path? How can we diminish this sense of impotence as we watch the country drive off a cliff?

Letting the US Ambassador, and other Foreign Service personnel in our respective countries, know how we feel in a constructively critical way may help as does raising the issues (politely, and, again, constructively ) with any and all Americans we know and meet, as these people do have a vote.

At every opportunity we should let opinion leaders, politicians, business leaders, and American friends, know that we very much welcome the positive contributions that America can make to medical research, innovation, economic development, poverty eradication, climate change, thought leadership, peaceful evolution through a global and united effort. More than most nationalities, Americans need to feel that they are universally loved and respected.

I enjoyed the benefits of America in my early 20’s and I sincerely hope that, starting in November 2020, I will be able to enjoy them again while in my late 70’s, when I fervently hope we will be able to welcome the country back into our global community.

To those of you who feel similarly, please do send your thoughts and suggestions.

Bob Gattie