When I landed in Texas for the holidays, I realized it had been a long time since I had been so happy to be home, seeing old friends and family. Something has changed here...for the better. Even if financially times are hard for many, that disturbing fear that was in place under the previous President has melted away. Or perhaps we have changed as a country. Here are some of the positives I see right now in America.
- The financial crisis has forced us to focus and really look at what is important in our lives. The superficial consumerism and borrowing is being replaced by saving and asking ourselves questions about what really matters most to us. The Best Buy culture of avoidance is being replaced by a do it yourself, lack of wastefulness.
- A remembering that the best things in life are free: friendship, family, love, giving. These cannot be bought.
- Self-respect: Somehow the bubble of the past decade (or two) lead us to a kind of distraction and less focused way of knowing right from wrong. It's easy to ignore the outcomes of our choices when times are "good". But I would argue that having to face the music of excess is actually making us happier. And thus we live our lives more fully, respect ourselves more because we are making better more sustainable choices.
- We are realizing how important that which belongs to all Americans is: public schools, infrastructure, nature, and we are at least beginning, even if it is not perfect, to focus on health care. Maybe this less than perfect start will lead us to a better model in the near future. At least it is change and a recognizing that something had to be done.
- Our country is shifting from having to always be "the best" "always be #1" to learning that we are part of a bigger whole, and that not only do we need to share the responsibilities for much of what takes place on this planet, that when we do indeed act in a more symbiotic way with the rest of the world, more understanding is a result and bridges are built between cultures.
- We are questioning the "givens" be it mainstream media, or the ways things have always operated. Somehow, because of fear or simply laziness, we had stopped questioning. We need to never ever stop questioning the status quo, and we need to raise children who learn that questioning is as important to real freedom as is simply living in the US of A.
- Greed is not only not good, greed is destroying us. There is no religion, no serious belief system which dictates that Greed is actually beneficial to society. It may indeed be survival of the fittest at times, but hand in hand with that goes taking care of others, of those less fortunate than ourselves.
- Women are coming to the forefront....be it in the economy, in households around the world where impoverished women are rising up through microcredit, or women taking control on the political level. The future is about Women and Girls being central to decision-making in both the private and public spheres. We forget that at our own peril.
- We are becoming more intuitive, or rather, uncovering our natural ability to instinctively discern what feels right from what does not.
- We have the fortunate situation of a leader, President Obama, who truly represents change to the rest of the world. We need to take advantage of that and stop the squabbling and get on with helping him and our elected officials (or else vote them out!) make this country the best it can be!
Times of crisis = times of evolution and the possibility for something better.
Learn a lesson from the President and his family: plant an organic urban garden, focus on your children, make education a priority, celebrate diversity and multiculturalism, focus on change also from the bottom up...we are lucky to have a president who was a community organizer, and I would argue, the child of a woman who was a strong figure in his life, even tough she struggled as a single mother to make ends meet, she made sure her children received top level educations. She understood how to help the world change from the bottom up, helping the poorest of the poor. President Obama also understands this, and is bringing this understanding to the global level.
2010 is a new beginning. Being an American is more than just how we define our economy, it is a true Democracy. Let's celebrate that, and accept the responsibilities and benefits true Democracy brings with it!