I like to have pride in the university for which I work. What that means is that I want the institution to look good and so do my best to achieve that by advocating and implementing policies that I believe advance the mission of providing a good education to students, being a good institutional citizen of the city in which it is based, and that treats its employees well. Although the university is by no means perfect, it is clear that enough people who work here share that view and so we are constantly striving to improve it. We are not trying to get the biggest salary in return for the least amount of work..
I also feel proud of the local community I live in. I support taxes and levies that will keep the schools in good shape, provide good services, and make it a pleasant place to live. It is clear that enough citizens share that view that we consistently choose to invest in its efforts to improve. We feel a sense of pride in living here and want to make it even better.
But that sense of civic pride seems to stop there. One of the things that most concerns me about the US is that at the state and national level, people seem to be losing real pride in their country. The pride they do have is the phony kind that consists of loud, repeated, but empty assertions that the US is the greatest country, it has the greatest, bravest, most resilient and moral people, that its soldiers are the best, and so on.
But real pride is of the civic kind, when people are proud of their schools, of the quality of the services their government provides, have concern for the concern for the well-being of their fellow-citizens, and so on, and when they feel enough of a collective obligation to achieve that so as to be willing to contribute to the building of the social and economic infrastructure that makes them feel pride in real accomplishment instead of empty rhetoric.
I simply don’t see that anymore, at least not enough. People, especially those oligarchs who run the country and those who have been suckered into thinking that these people are worth emulating, seem to be quite complacent about the air and the water being trashed, the schools decaying, aid to poor people being cut, declining health services, crumbling infrastructure, etc. Public investment for the common good seems to be an abhorrent idea. All they seem to care about is make as much money as they can and keep as money as they can without feeling any sense of obligation to others.
Mattea Kramer and Jo Comerford look forward at the year 2023, ten years after this year’s sequestration cuts took place, and see America as having become a third world country. But that process began well before the sequestration. The problem is that too many Americans know almost nothing about other countries and hence they have nothing to compare with to see America’s slow decay. They are like frogs in a well, not knowing or caring that the water level is steadily sinking. Like Easter Island and all the earlier cultures that went extinct, they are blind to the effects of slow deterioration and don’t care enough to find out, let alone do something to stop it.
Of course, this is an exaggeration. There are many people who do care about the really important things. But on days that I feel glum, I feel outnumbered by the phony boosters.