Where’s the pill to treat our political psychosis?
Is it time for a national chill pill? What has happened to get folks so darned mad at one another? Schoolyard bullying seems to have replaced civil discourse. When did we start fearing rather than celebrating the richness of our diverse citizenry and differing points of view?
I’ve heard way too many vicious, hateful statements over the past few months — in the news, from lawmakers, from acquaintances, some subtle, some in the form of crude jokes and some just plain ignorant. And a disturbing number came from people in positions of leadership.
Maybe I’m naïve, but I simply don’t understand the growing intolerance in these United States of America. After all we’ve stood for? Fought for? Sacrificed? Wasn’t freedom our goal? And doesn’t freedom include tolerance?
There are nearly 312 million people in our nation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, multiracial couples are one of the fastest-growing demographic segments. We are almost at a 50 percent minority birth rate nationwide. We have minority-majority populations in more than 25 percent of the largest metropolitan areas. Minority-majority populations among children under age 15 now exist in 10 states.
There are at least 9 million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the U.S. About 58.6 million Americans have household incomes in excess of $100,000 and hold about 70 percent of all privately held wealth. More than 46.2 million Americans have less than $22,500 per year in household income. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 12.5 million of our citizens are unemployed.
Last year, 45.9 million adult Americans were reported to have a mental illness, according to the latest figures from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
I cite all these numbers because most of the vicious comments I’ve heard lately were directed at citizens in these specific segments of our nation’s economy.
Where are the civil servants willing to at least try to represent all of us? To at least try to work together to solve our nation’s problems. What has happened to civil discourse in the halls of Congress?
What happened to the heart and soul of our patriotism as professed in the Declaration of Independence?
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Where, exactly, are our superiority complexes coming from? Heck, even the most successful citizens experienced failures and screw-ups on their roads to success.
Talented people do a whole lot of practicing before they truly master their gifts. Brilliant individuals don’t just pluck knowledge and insight out of the air — they pursue those things. We’re born with “unalienable Rights,” not superior rights, right?
One medical dictionary defines superiority complex as “an excessive striving for or pretense of superiority to compensate for supposed inferiority.” Oh, that couldn’t be right.
This is America, the land of the free. Surely our leaders don’t need to compensate for any hidden inferiority.
The American Psychiatric Association’s assessment of superiority complex involves “psychosis,” If left untreated, it says, the patient “may develop irrational beliefs (delusions), serious disturbances in perception (hallucinations), and disordered thought and speech, or become otherwise out of touch with reality.”
Uh-oh, this is our nation we’re talking about!
The APA goes on: “Oftentimes, the best treatment involves both medication and some form of talk therapy.”
No doubt, big pharma stands ready on the medication part, but this “talk therapy” treatment does bring us back to civil discourse — a concept that our leaders could certainly benefit from. But couldn’t we all?
How can we ever hope to realize “unalienable Rights” that include “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” for all our citizens without civil discourse? And how do we have civil discourse if we’re not willing to listen?
How can we innovate and succeed without some trial and error along the way? How can we grow without learning, forgive without humility? How can we “form a more perfect Union” without acknowledging and exploring the rich diversity comprising that union?
As I pondered these questions, including a painful examination of my own shameful biases, a friend happened to email a link to a commencement speech given by J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame. Themed “in defense of failure,” the 18-minute speech was brilliant, inspiring and timely.
“We do not need magic to transform the world,” the acclaimed author said in concluding her speech. “We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better.”
We do indeed. But it will take a real commitment to civil discourse, “unalienable Rights,” “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” for all our citizens — feats worthy of real, honest-to-goodness superiority.
Quidditch, anyone? You know, just for fun.