The only thing worse than never achieving your dreams is to achieve all of them and then have no idea what to do next. That’s the dilemma Americans face today, even though most of us don’t realize it.
We became the richest, strongest, most advanced nation in history. We turned the tide in WWI, WWII and the Cold War. The average middle-class American is part of the global 1%. We are the only nation with a flag on the moon. After we muscled the Soviet Union into the trash heap of history, we became the planet’s only superpower and there we remain. If you are an American, you are one of the luckiest people on earth. You are in the land of opportunity, a place people break the law and sometimes even risk their lives to get into.
Yet, all that success has had some surprisingly negative consequences for our culture.
1) Tilting At Windmills: One of the great things about America is how much of the heavy lifting has already been done for us. We had a war that ended slavery and people like Martin Luther King helped bring racial equality. Thanks to Republican women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, women have the right to vote and reached equality with men. That’s a good thing… except there are legions of Americans who want to follow the examples of those people, but can never do it. You can’t be Rosa Parks because we’ve already had a Rosa Parks. You can tell yourself that you would have been a Freedom Rider standing up for racial equality, but you can’t actually be a Freedom Rider. So, like Don Quixote, we have large numbers of people in one of the least patriarchal and racist countries on earth who create imaginary patriarchies, racist plagues and largely imaginary versions of enemies that they can fight so they can feel like heroes that they’ll never be.