It’s All About Me (and My Family)

egoismDonald Trump and his family have exposed American individualism for what it is: a deadly lie.

We can only hope America’s downward spiral of evermore selfishness has hit bottom. If we’re lucky, the ugly spectacle of the Republican Convention will wake up the American people and lead us to join the human family

Chances are it will not, however, for the American Dream is deeply embedded and widely embraced.

The Obama family, for example, affirms the same myth. In her 2008 speech that Melania Trump plagiarized, Michele said, “Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”

That belief is clearly an illusion. The only human beings who have achieved all of their dreams have had no dreams to speak of.

Yet parents tell their children, “You can be whatever you want.” And the corollary to that is: At the expense of others. If you win, others will lose.

Based on his children’s testimony thus far, three values Trump did not teach his children are the Golden Rule, humility, and service to the less fortunate. It seems his primary child care consisted of giving his children feedback on their report cards and inviting them to his workplace. His main message was “get ahead,” which is the narrow-minded dynamic that drives “the system.” His children are “high achievers,” but that does not mean they are “great,” as the network pundits claim.

Bernie Sanders and other economic populists buttress the materialism that is interwoven with American individualism. His proposal for free public college helped Bernie get support from young people. But it also reinforces the dominant social system which is rooted in the desire to climb the social ladder.

Barack Obama reflected and buttressed that individualistic culture when he said that his election would itself “transform America.” Trump’s followers mimic the same individualism when they claim Trump (alone) will “make America great again.” Some even say that merely electing him will work that magic.

Aggravated by the explosion of electronic devices, Americans are on a downward spiral of ever increasing self-centeredness. Active listening and compassionate inquiry are becoming a lost art. People seem to think they’re being a good listener when they reply, “Yes. I had the same experience,” and proceed to talk about themselves at length. With spoken communication, it’s natural to listen as much as you talk. But with electronic communication, more time is devoted to typing than to reading. That pattern seems to be replicated face-to-face.

One result is that more people have fewer close friends with whom they can discuss personal issues. So when they get a chance to talk about themselves, they don’t take the time to listen, which leaves the other feeling a greater need to connect with someone who will listen to them, leading to a downward spiral of increasing isolation.

Perhaps Hillary Clinton, who wrote “It Takes a Village,” will help us reverse course so we can be “stronger together.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.