We've Ruined the USA

Let me get you triggered for a second. Let me get your riled up. Not in a political way, in an American way.

We've Ruined the USA

Over and over again I have rewritten this post. The intro alone has gone over several revisions. Resulting in some of the longest drafts I've ever written. Cumulatively I've written down over 6000 words trying to get my thoughts just right for public consumption. And really, I'm just left with frustration.

I don't want to come across as willingly ignorant. There is too many people out there these days who are completely fine with remaining in a blissful arrogant state. They would rather get their news from major news stations heavily saturated in political bias or by reading and sharing insensitive, prejudice, or flat out false memes on Facebook. That's not what I want at all.

Personally, and like many others, I feel like I'm going insane. I feel like in the last 6 months we've seen extreme sides from racists, freedom fighters, conspiracy theorists, and hypocritical religious juggernauts. It's been so severe that cult like mentality has been at the forefront of conversations around, but not limited to, the "evil" other political party.

People tell me,

"Oh this is the way it always gets."

Really? We think this is acceptable? Talk about acknowledging the wedge being driven in every year and not doing anything about it.

"But what can we do, Colten? It's out of our hands."

Fucking speak up.

I know this won't convince anyone, but your voice matters. Regardless if you think your voice doesn't mean anything, speaking up starts the process of learning. Either on your end or on the receiving end. Be receptive to others viewpoints. Just because the other person is saying something you may perceive as extreme doesn't mean that it actually is. Often times when I am conversing with another person, I'll point out something that may come across as extreme. The other person will reword their point and I realize they are meaning something entirely different. We've become accustomed to click-bait titles and believe them to be true. (Welcome)

We've become convinced that anyone with a differing opinions is automatically wrong. I've had more conversations with people who are on such an extreme sides of thinking I can't even connect with them. Connecting as in just trying to understand their point of view or have them understand my point of view. Something I learned a long time ago was that having a conversation takes two people. However, to have a conversation you also have the requirement that both parties are understanding each other. Otherwise you are not having a conversation, you're lecturing each other to no avail. Unless the other party is receptive to your statements, lecturing doesn't convince anyone and both parties end up feeling unheard.

I don't want to come off like I am all knowing and know better because I really don't. When I post things on a social profile I try present it in the form of a question. I may or may not have an opinion about the topic already. I do it because I want to invite people to talk about their viewpoint because what I said above I believe in. Often times I end up thinking of a problem or a question and when I ask that question publically I get to check myself to see if my view is one that may be based in ignorance, or may be extreme. It helps me self regulate.

If this post comes off as lecturing please forgive the assault on your eyes. I don't mean it to be. Over the last several months, I've just been... Very disappointed in a lot of people and in the leadership of this country.  Without being super polarizing or too specific, I think in general what I was taught at a young age and what is being presented in the news, and the interactions I have had with people on various topics, isn't the America I grew up believing in. And for me, it's been a huge let down.

There has always been banter. There has always been conflict. This year has been full of fundamental problems like civil liberties, basic human rights, tolerance for injustice, misinformation, allowing for conspiracy and just a lack of neighborly love in general. The trump administration has withdrawn from world groups which we have had a heavy hand in to help regulate. They've alienated the CDC, the news, and anyone that really disagrees with them. And people are tolerating it. Or hell, drooling over it.

It's... depressing.

To me, seeing that kind of devotion to such conflicting topics and praising the leadership for taking a heavy hand but ignoring the cause of those actions is just as bad as anarchy. It's extreme and to me seems a half step off from how Hitler came to power and was able to get away with so many terrible things. When I bring up such a extreme example, people dismiss it saying that it isn't that bad, but are you sure?

Have we been in this mess for so long that we can't realize extreme viewpoints over normalcy?

What is normal?

A couple of weeks ago I ended up posting this:

What's disappointing to me is that we subscribe to movies fantasizing about equality, justice over evil, and collective betterment of our species. In reality we can't talk to each other.

Posted by Colten Rouska on Wednesday, July 1, 2020

And really, that's what my feelings have come down to on the US. I feel like instead of us rising to the occasion, we've decided to dwell in pettiness. Rather than being the America that is taught in schools, we've decided to stuff that cape in the closet. Instead of discussing topics that should have been solved decades ago, we would rather focus on points that deflect or take away from the topics at hand.

I can already hear someone furiously typing,

"If you don't like america then why don't you leave?!"

Ha, well, because that doesn't solve anything either. I would rather have those that are complacent with the way things are, to leave. Just because I am disappointed or I want things to be better doesn't mean I hate the US. It doesn't mean that I think that the foundation of what it was built on should be uprooted. I just mean that things should progress.What was acceptable 100 years ago is not acceptable today. We have to change. And I would hope that that is our desire. Hell, when America was first founded it was only Men that could vote and people of color didn't have a choice. Today we believe that all people have a voice. It's in our nature to change and evolve. So to say that America was great and isn't anymore is really just a step backward in what I view as progress.

Tolerance for injustice will be our downfall.

So I've been left with this bitter taste in my mouth that people want a king. They want someone with a heavy hand, who is petty, who is divisive, who discredits anyone that disagrees with them. That person is always right, they are never wrong. That person is a god send to our country. Which is why I ask, what is more American? Those that question the government? The president? Those who aren't complacent, always looking for improvement and change? Those who want independence without regulation? Wanting a government that provides security and freedom for ALL of its citizens? Those who want unity over division? Those who want justice?

I'm just as frustrated as anyone. But I'm not going to stop the discussions. It's hard enough knowing that I may lose friends, maybe even family over these topics. As stupid as that sounds. It's sad to know people will view my voice as extreme when I am trying to come from a neutral position and understanding.

So I get it. It's hard to not want to just give up. To be complacent. To not care anymore. To agree to disagree. It's hard to keep the energy when it feels like no one agrees with your viewpoint or worse, seems to be attacking your viewpoint because you decided to post about it. But that's ok.

I've found we end up reaching an equilibrium between opinions. Doesn't mean we agree with each other but we find commonality between points. We discuss holes between each other's views and we start to patch together truths. In today's world where everything seems so much more in the air, we need each other to know what's real.

In a sense I'm proud that there has been so much unrest. To me that's the spirit of America. Not that things are in a state of unrest but more that there are still voices loud enough and unified enough to be heard. That's why your voice matters. In a country where we are one nation, with multiple cultures, diverse backgrounds and unified under freedom.

I don't know if any of this really makes sense to a lot of people. I don't know if this is an extreme point of view. I will always try to welcome conversation even if my initial reaction is defensive. So please...

Don't lose hope, speak up. I value your opinion.