We the people are no more. We have failed ourselves and our country. It is your fault and mine. What happens henceforth remains to be seen.
We are desperate to be faster and smarter, skinnier and prettier, funnier and more successful than everyone else. We are desperately trying to find any job or find a better job. We are desperately trying to avoid collectors' phone calls and to fix our over-priced cars and our sub-par credit. We desperately refinance or foreclose on homes we can't afford. We desperately struggle with outrageous medical bills and overseas customer service reps. We desperately escape into other people's lives on TV while we desperately divest ourselves of any responsibility for our well being, or others'. We desperately descend into depression and divorce, drugs and debauchery. We desperately cheat, lie and steal on our taxes and our lovers. We are Americans and we are desperate.
Section I: Don't Shoot the Messenger
I discovered long ago that if the person across from you isn't credible, interesting and approachable, there's no way in hell you will: A) Want to have a conversation with them; B) Listen to a word they say; or C) Seriously even consider their opinion. And we all know what they say about opinions, so why should you listen to mine?
I'm a twice-married white woman raised in a mid-western Catholic household. My Irish-American father is a life-long member of the NRA and a proud Vietnam Veteran. He was also a unionized railroad worker for two and a half decades. My mother is a Hungarian immigrant that came to America (legally) in 1956 at age ten. She learned English quickly and believed that America was the land of opportunity and that voting was a solemn duty. She worked two jobs and put herself through nursing school while my dad was laid off. They both voted for Reagan. They both voted for Obama. My late uncle was a homosexual doctor that died of AIDS and my only brother-in-law is serving life in prison.
I dropped out of college, waited a lot of tables, then drove a truck for about thirteen years. Let me tell you, when you spend that long crisscrossing every corner of the country, you see it all. I have seen astonishing acts of both bravery and cowardice. I've felt shock and awe while viewing mother nature's fury, man's violence and random acts of kindness. Over two million miles of road have exposed me to the best and worst of our citizenry and I've pretty much seen it all and done half of what I've seen.
I have visited jail and been visited in jail; I've bounced checks, over-borrowed and been fired; been in a few fistfights and more than a few catfights. I know what it's like to realize I've screwed up and I know what it's like to try and fix the things I broke (including my heart and my credit score). I traveled alone to China to bring home my only daughter, then quit a great job for the love of a great man who happens to be Hispanic. I plunged back into debt to get more educated to supposedly get a higher paying job. I have student loans but no steady employment. The point is, I'm just like you. We have a lot of things in common and there are probably a lot of things we disagree on; that's ok. Just keep in mind as you read along that I'm not some "Right-wing nut job" or some "Liberal weenie." I respect others' differing points of view and try to see both sides of every debate. I am not trying to change your mind, your politics, your sexual orientation or your religious beliefs (or lack thereof). If that's what you think this manifesto is about then I recommend you tune in to MSNBC or Fox or go buy a book from Bachmann or Barak.
Section II: How did we get to this point?
America and her citizenry are desperate. A lot of us are unemployed and broke. A majority of us (along with our government) are in debt. Most of us have some education, some of us have a lot of education and some of us have none. There is only one underlying cause for the crisis Americans and our country face: RESPONSIBILITY.
If you are reading this it is because you have had, are having or know you will have some serious problems in the future. Maybe money can't buy you love, but if being healthy and financially secure are priorities, it CAN buy you happiness. No one wants to say that of course, but it's the truth. I don't need a yacht or a mansion, I just need a reliable car, a roof over my head and a little money in the bank; we want to be worth more than we owe but 99% of us owe more than we are worth. If you are a "1 percenter" (not to be confused with outlaw bikers) then you can stop here. Through a combination of ingenuity, luck, ambition, education and hard work you aren't like the rest of us. Congratulations on your success; now stop trying to manipulate and dictate the lives of the rest of us.
I'm sure you feel strongly that a majority of your problems are someone else's fault. Take a moment and go look in the mirror. There are always reasons that we make decisions, good or bad, but there are no excuses. The person you are looking at (unless you are continuously under the influence of drugs, alcohol or some fanatical scientist) is solely responsible for the where you are at today. Even a decision to let someone else make a decision is still a decision.
The economy sucks. Unemployment, student loans and credit card rates are up. Home values and job opportunities are down. A lot of people will try and tell you it's not your fault. You really thought you could make $6 and hour, buy a $600,000 home for $100 down and $199 a month for one year and turn around and sell it for half a mil. Everyone was doing it; everyone said it worked. Think back to when you were younger and that cheesy cliché you always heard about "…if everyone jumps off a bridge will you?" Well, you did. American home-buyers were like a herd of buffalo being chased by the Indians- we all went right over the cliff together.
Maybe you managed to avoid the home-ownership hassle because you bought before the boom AND resisted taking out an equity loan to buy your boat, the new car and vacation in Hawaii. Maybe the only thing you owe on is your child's college education. If you haven't experienced the "joys of home-ownership" then it's probably because you can't afford it. Perhaps you live with your parents or some other unfortunate family member or friend; maybe you are holed up in a cramped studio apartment or you're barely making the rent. I could go on and on about the path you took that brought you here but ultimately we all have become Desperate Americans.
Now let's get back to RESPONSIBILITY. The first step in restoring America's credibility is for its citizens to restore their own. There's a decent chance that you have accepted or applied for unemployment benefits, social security or food stamps. If you feel you are a victim of circumstance, then you should reconsider labeling yourself a victim. At best that invites pity or mild concern; at worse it results in antipathy, derision and scorn. You are what you say you are. Being born to an unwed or illegal mother, being the wrong color or the wrong sexual persuasion, growing up abused or abandoned does not give you an excuse to abdicate you responsibilities as an American. Literally, pick up your pants and your chin.
It's time to stop pointing fingers and agree to disagree. The amount of time, energy and money we continue to waste blaming everyone else is ridiculous; which means we are being ridiculous. The recent debt-ceiling negotiations are a prime example of our continuing lack of irresponsibility. Stop blaming the politicians because we elected them. Or maybe you sat out the elections- another decision BY you to let others make decisions FOR you. If you don't like what your elected officials are doing, you must tell them that they will soon join the ranks of the unemployed.
Here's where this conversation can go south in a hurry: none of us want to compromise, no one wants to admit they are wrong. That's understandable but IRRESPONSIBLE and therefore UNREASONABLE.
Section III: Define being Responsible
STOP here if you know that you cannot or will not consider anyone else's opinion other than your own.
STOP here if you cannot act like an adult and at least listen to someone that may not share your exact opinions, beliefs or values.
If you are still here then you have taken a huge step towards solving your problems and that of this country. I respect others' opinions and rights to those opinions. RESPECT and RESPONSIBILITY go hand in hand. Being RESPONSIBLE means being RESPECTFUL. When you practice them together you have taken a huge leap towards being REASONABLE.
Here's an easy to follow scenario: two people are in a crowded room armed with loaded weapons and they are pointed at each other. They don't like what the other is wearing, how they talk, who they are with, where they are from and what Church they go to. Sound familiar? Now let's go out on a limb and label one a homosexual Hispanic man wearing pink. Let's say the other one is a heterosexual White woman that prefers to reload rather than to retreat. I am not going to tell you that either person is right or wrong, better or worse. I won't refer to them as Democrats or Republicans because the whole point is that what they are is IRRELEVANT.
This is where we have to really restrain ourselves. Remember that part of being responsible is being HONEST. It's ok to say you don't like someone for any reason; you have that right. Being a RESPONSIBLE person requires integrity and some patience. So now we have these two people squared off, what happens next?
STOP here if you think that the woman should blow that brown colored pinko faggot away. Obviously, you are beyond accepting anyone that is different than you and your ignorance will continue to contribute to your decent into desperation. Just don't forget that gay brown people buy groceries and gas; they purchase and use phones and the internet. They buy clothes and furniture and cars and houses and newspapers and more. They work on your cars, in your yard and for your kids' school custodial department. They clean your hotel room, bus your table and pick the fruit you eat. On a day to day basis, they probably do everything you do, they just may not think everything you think. Do you really, honestly believe that these people have zero impact on you life? If you think so, then she should shoot him twice just to be sure.
STOP here if you think that the man should pull the trigger on that ignorant, rich, over-bearing, opinionated silicon injected soccer-mom. You are just as radical as you believe they are. Keep in mind that white home-schooling Bible-thumping people hire babysitters, landscapers, and auto mechanics. They buy over-priced coffee, stay at over-priced hotels, live in over-priced McMansions and drive over-priced cars and they pay more in interest than you'll ever make in a lifetime. Do you really, honestly believe that these people have zero impact on you life? If you think so, then he should shoot her twice just to be sure.
If you think I am over-simplifying then you aren't being HONEST, which means you are not being a RESPONSIBLE person. 99% of us are prejudiced at some time, in some way. That's human nature and normal. We grow up in a world that stereotypes everyone. Once again, you don't have to agree with the tree-huggers or anti-abortionists!
So back to our shooters. If they are both RESPONSIBLE people they will recognize that pulling the trigger will have major consequences on multiple fronts. Even if they don't accidentally kill an innocent bystander, the shooter's life and that of his or her family will never be the same. And for what? What did they accomplish? Does solving the immediate problem of the other person's very existence eliminate or create more problems?
This is where we start getting down to solving our country's problems by first solving our own. Bear in mind that every day of our lives we are forced to deal with the unsavory, the distasteful and the difficult. Wiping your ass can be gross. Smelling your lover's breath in the morning and your boss' breath during the day is equally disgusting. We put up with it for a variety of reasons (love and money being at the top of the list). But we do it. Now, we have to deal with the "other" side.
Section IV: How to Deal With the Idiots Around You
Remember, being RESPONSIBLE isn't easy or fun- it's not supposed to be. America's citizens are like the tax code: always changing, rarely understood, used, abused and taken-advantage of. It would be nice if both were more simple, but they're not, so stop whining and do what needs to be done: deal with your taxes AND your fellow Americans.
IMMIGRANTS (legal & otherwise): Get out your family history books. With the exception of Native Americans, a majority of us are descendants of someone that wasn't a Desperate American but rather was desperate to be an American. Recognize that their desire is the same as yours, to have a better life. Some of them are lazy and ungrateful, ignore them. Refuse to deal with any person or business that refuses to assimilate to their adopted country. No one is asking anyone to give up their culture or forget their language, but keep in mind that in this country we speak English. If you accept American money then you need accept that you are in America and conduct your business accordingly. There are a lot of places that we can take our business to if you won't make the effort to understand what we want to buy from you.
GLTB (Gays, Lesbians, Transgender and Bisexuals): If this is you then practice patience. Continue your fight for equal rights but respect those groups that fought for equal rights before you. Women couldn't vote, Blacks were considered property and Native American's had their land stolen and were forcibly relocated; you've started ahead of the game. The best way to get people to support your cause is to get them to know the person. For those of you that feel GLTB's are an abomination, don't be a hypocrite. God created everyone and everything so unless you think He is wrong or stupid, accept the beings He put on earth. If He has a problem with their lifestyle choices then their day of reckoning will come, just let Him handle it.
The Rich and The Poor. Approximately 1% of the population controls about 80% of the wealth in this county. Here's why: You are in debt, they aren't. You owe them money. Here's what to do: Pay off your bills and borrow less; you'll have more and they'll have less. Be nice to the homeless, RESPECT them as human beings; a lot of them served their country and even more important, someday that could be your kids' cardboard box- or yours. If you're one of the Rich never forget that everyone else paid for all your toys by buying your goods and services. If you're one of the Poor then study the Rich. Many of those people started their companies in their garage. The biggest difference between them and you isn't necessarily education or opportunity but attitude and ambition. They worked hard and never gave up; neither should you. Ever.
Politicians: I've always felt we should have term limits. Then a more intelligent person than I (they do exist) pointed that we already do: it's called an election. A politician's term is limited by how many times they get re-elected. Stop voting for them and they won't be there anymore.
It continues to amaze me that a majority of us Desperate Americans continue to expect and to look to our Country's leaders for salvation. Stop holding them up to a higher standard than you hold yourself. If you lie, cheat and steal then don't be surprised when they do, too. If we all start being RESPONSIBLE then we would be able to work with each other and solve problems. If you can't get along with your annoying co-workers then why would you expect Senators Boehner and Reid to get along with theirs? We Americans have duped ourselves into thinking that some people are better than others; we should grant our neighbors the same respect as the President and expect the same in return.
Section V: It Starts With You
Make a personal commitment to being the better person, then imagine if everyone else did the same. The internet is a valuable tool; with your new attitude you should start utilizing it. Search for jobs, for garage sales and for ways you can make a difference. Connect with others in your position and find way to get help as well as give it. There is always someone who has it worse than you. What comes around, goes around. The person you help today may be the guy standing in the job fair booth tomorrow.
Instead of giving someone the finger (which they expect) give them a smile and a wave. You'll be less aggravated and they'll be much likelier to admit their wrong-doing. Own up to your mistakes; remember the Golden Rule (treat others as you expect them to treat you). Contemplate your strengths acknowledge your weakness and be HONEST with everyone. If you have been accused of being an asshole or bitch then it's probably because you are. Be approachable and flexible instead of aloof and unyielding. Recognize that whether you agree or disagree, like or dislike, approve or disapprove of someone else, they have an impact on your life and you theirs so you need to find a way to work with them. Standing your ground when you're standing on a time bomb (like, say, the vote to raise the national debt limit) is stupid and eventually everyone pays the price. In other words, don't cut off your nose to spite your face. Give as much as you can and don't whine about others giving less; their time will come.
That's it. Take RESPONSIBILITY for your lives, your actions and the words coming out of your mouths. Be a problem solver not a problem maker. Don't be desperate, just be the person that all Americans should be.