Dreaming of Changing the American Paradigm

Most Americans believe in a mythical America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. Americans believe that America is the bastion of democracy for the entire worked, the paradigm of the highest values of civilization.

The reality is somewhat different than the myth. American military forces have killed several million citizens of the world since the middle of the twentieth century, often to defeat citizen revolts against the intrusions of American corporate interests in foreign affairs. America has supported many ruthless dictators and fought against democracy, all in favor of commercial interests of American corporations. Americans have become by far the greatest consumers of energy and resources in the history of the world. America has become the greatest military power in the history of the word, with the largest economy in man’s archives. Yet, America is also the greatest debtor nation in the history of the world, the greatest threat to peace in the world in the past several decades, and is now alienating many nations and peoples of the world.

What would it be like to change the American paradigm, to make the mythology into reality, and to make America a good nation, and not just a (militarily) great one? Consider the following:

Waging of peace, not war — America now spends at least 400 billion dollars per year on its military operations; that is of budgeted monies. We know that there are secret (black) programs not included in the budget, as well as means of accomplishing military objectives with non-military funding, as in the hiring of non-military contractors such as Halliburton to build and maintain defense facilities around the world, ostensibly saving the military money from its own budget and freeing military manpower for more direct needs. So, no one knows how many additional billions or tens of billions or hundreds of billions of dollars American spends on military and intelligence activities related to military operations. But what if American went to a strategy of waging peace instead of war? What if America withdrew its primary military forces to within its own borders, and limited its military activities to threats to national security within its borders, as recommended by former two time Medal of Honor winning U.S. Marine Corps General Smedley Butler? The reallocation of funding from military spending to more productive uses would have several benefits. Taxes could be dramatically lowered. Social programs and repair and improvements of the decaying American infrastructure could be enacted. The national debt could be paid off in reasonable time frames. People could be put to work creating goods and services that benefited man, instead of threatening man.

Perhaps more importantly, waging peace instead of solving conflicts through violence and war and threats could change the way the whole planet operates.

Waging of peace would also meant that the U.S. would also give up the lucrative practice of selling armaments to bolster violence around the world. If America waged peace by these means, and used its influence to prevent others from selling arms or waging war to solve conflicts, millions of lives could be saved. Natural resources devoted to warmaking could be reassigned to feeding and housing and educating people. If America would quit supporting violent, totalitarian regimes, democracy could flourish and people around the world could better control their own destinies and resources. Wealth could be less concentrated and more dispersed, for the good of the many, not the few.

Waging campaigns for fairness in resource and wealth distribution — If the U.S. would stop imposing its own economic will on the rest of the world, as in seeking to control sources of raw materials for its own economy, more fairness could accrue in the distribution of the world’s wealth and resources. Instead of building up American corporate wealth to the extremes expected of the Vanderbilts and the Morgans and the Rockefellers, the “little” people of Nigeria and Amazonia and Mississippi could enjoy their fair share of earth’s produce. Instead of fighting for the concentration of wealth, American under a new paradigm would shame the concentrators of wealth and honor those who distribute their wealth among the truly needy. American tax laws and societal mores would discourage wealth building and emphasize caring for the needy and making sure every citizen, not only of America, but of the world, had access to food, housing, medical care, and basic necessities. The “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” would be considered obscene and despicable, whether those lifestyles were of plutocrats in Connecticut or Cairo or Hong Kong.

Ecological health and environmental sustainability — Rather than emphasize industrial agriculture that poisoned soils and waters with chemical pollutants and depended upon energy intensive, water wasting methods of production, agriculture would return to an agrarian, not industrial system. More citizens would return to the land to grow crops in organic and sustainable ways, with counterproductive subsidies that reward waste and land degradation far removed from practice. Grazing levels would be tailored to land health and not allowed to alter native vegetative components and remove habitat from neotropical migrant songbirds or other wildlife. Industrial manufacturing processes would be based on principals of biomimicry and avoid waste of materials and energy. More efficiency would accrue into more wealth with less wasted energy and effort, and intelligent application of ecological principals could make capitalism successful in a context of ecological health.

Attitudes and concern for others’ welfare — In a new American paradigm, consumerism and greed would be things of the past. Instead of luxuries and pursuit of happiness based on material things, people would learn to find joy in more simple lifestyles, with human relationships, international relationships and ecological relationships having priority over consumption.

A good example would be application of the land ethic as conceived by the great ecologist/conservationist Aldo Leopold: “A thing is right when it tends to promote the stability, the integrity and the beauty of the biotic community. A thing is wrong when it tends otherwise.” Human ethics would likewise be emphasized. Nationalism, patriotism and pride would be linked to the doing of good, and not to the disparagement, weakening, or destruction of other peoples or nations. People would learn to rejoice in the joy and success of others and the “me-first” attitude would be a thing of the past.

In a new paradigm, America would truly be a source of good for mankind, not by overthrowing other governments, not by exporting capitalistic values, not by exploiting resources under foreign soils, not even by loaning money to the needy, but by sharing good, encouraging ethics, reducing American negative impacts to the global environment, and setting an example in the waging of peace. Capitalism and consumerism would be replaced by generosity and voluntary simplicity in lifestyle choices.

At present this is a dream. But we know the present system is unsustainable. We are running out of critical resources, and degrading our natural environment. We have the power now to destroy ourselves, even as we are threatening many life forms on our fragile planet.

Would it not be better to dream this dream and focus on it till we can find ways to achieve it, instead of destroying ourselves and others? A new American paradigm would be a blessing for mankind.

The writer is a member of several falconry and ornithological clubs and organizations. He contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from California, USA.