"Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices? I've heard them calling my name. Is this the sweet sound that called the young sailors? The voice might be one and the same. I've heard it too many times to ignore it. It's something I'm supposed to be. Some day we'll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me."
- From the Muppets song, "The Rainbow Connection"
On Thanksgiving Day, together with my family, I went to see The Muppets. It was the unanimous choice of my wife and me and our two adult children, ages 27 and 23. I suspect the movie marketers rightly recognized a trend: that the movie would be popular not only with today's children, but with families with grown children who long to recapture the smiles, hope and optimism they shared together when the children were young.
I suspect, too, that the writers of the movie understood that its timeless, wholesome message would resonate in a divided and what's-in-it-for-me America where the Kardashians cash in while 14 million Americans are out of work and 46 million live in poverty.
In the new movie, Jason Segal and Amy Adams take Walter -- a Muppets fan and wannabe -- on a journey to Hollywood to see, then to save, the Muppet Theater, which is about to be foreclosed upon by a greedy oil baron. Each of the Muppets had gone their separate ways, without great success, to be their own stars. Led by Walter, the friends first find Kermit the Frog, who leads them to the other Muppets, where they come to the realization that, while no one Muppet can save the theater, together they can, if they abandon their individual hurt, egos and ambitions for something greater.
But where are the Muppets in the real America? How is it that we've come to live in a time when Muppets behave more like leaders than our leaders do? How will we come together to save our show and who will emerge to unite us?
We need a Muppet America.
Many of us live an illusion that politicians, stars, athletes and other icons will change the course of history while we ordinary Americans tweet and watch reality TV. Others, such as the Tea Partiers and the Occupiers, are taking matters into their own hands. In a first step towards togetherness, they have found others of like mind. But the harder work is finding common ground with others of a different mindset so that we can continue to work together for a better America.
In a Muppet America, we would value saving the show over achieving our individual, group, or party's interest. In a Muppet America, we would value togetherness and civility over divisiveness and mean-spirited, witty one-liners that make news. In a Muppet America, we would recognize that we, as Americans, are more alike than we are different.
I believe that the Tea Partiers, Occupiers, and vast majority in between hunger for that America. We all want the return of the bright promise of the American Dream. And while this may sound corny and trite, there are no leaders who are proposing bolder solutions. So maybe the bold solution is an amalgam of small solutions, led by ordinary people who create a positive chain reaction to be good, do good, and demand good, and in doing so, do well. Maybe then we can reverse the negative, selfish and destructive trends that, like bedbugs, have infested our financial system, political system and societal core.
We live in a country where men act like Muppets and Muppets act like men. But if we are to save our show, we each need to strive for a little greatness so that the goodness of America continues.
To see the how America's values can help us get there, visit us at ourWebsite.
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