As I write, the status of the American fabric is fraying. Everywhere you turn a calamity unfolds. Be it fiscal, ecological, political–seems everything is in disarray. The system seems to be on a verge of collapse. The question I’d like to answer is, what are we going to do about it?
People are busy pointing fingers, sailing accusations across newspapers, television, social media, and blogs-yet no one dare point to them self. Oh sure people understand their impact, but do they see culture as a collective representation of the human body? Everything we are, Culture is, and everything Culture is, we created. More importantly, the self-implicating step forward that we need to take is simply not here yet. Every few weeks the media digs up a story, and every few months someone has trespassed against us-and every few years we face a major disaster or war. We gather up our signs and petitions to express our opinions, and make television figures popular for a bit, while some figures bite down and hang on long past the revelation that they’re just a ‘shtick’.
What we fail to see most of the time is that in hast we go right back to the same battle chest for the same batch of strategies–be they intellectual, emotional, or our spiritual understanding. Although we succeed most of the time with some minor changes, at the end of the day we’re pretty much in the same place waiting for a new set of circumstances to call us to action. We are Postmodern Crisis Junkies, waiting for the next hit, and when it comes to making any real lasting change, we nod off. Yet, if Culture is the reflection of the human body and its desires, why then in the face of challenge do we seem to lack in ability to create a collective culture as we envision?, one that fulfills our desires and wishes; one that caters to our special interests? Well, an evolutionary theory might suggest that we are a species seemingly driven by emotion. In that emotion we find ownership and what that looks like in culture is a self-referencing perspective that sees the individual first, and separate from culture. In that, Culture is a reflection of us, it cannot defy us, or the effects of the separate sense of self that pervades the lifestyle of post modernity. Even though we desperately want our country to be whole again; to overcome its challenges. We want these changes based on a very personal level-a level that will always be at odds. When we implicate ourselves in the process of cultural development, it goes deeper than learning to recycle or using mass transport, donating to a worthy cause–authentic self implication goes to the heart of difference to a singular thread that bonds us all. Most importantly, when we come from this individualistic perspective, it is easy to assume that all is wrong and about to collapse–yet, when we get the big picture from Mars and see that little spec in the galaxy that is planet Earth… from that kosmic perspective, life as we know it marches forward. In turn, we can take our worry and pessimism and shine it on creativity. We can free ourselves to focus on creating something new, rather than focusing on what is wrong. Although it seems like the latter would point to the former, they are two distinct platforms from which to spring. One frees you from history, while the other grounds you to time. One instills courage and creativity, while the other binds you to and with fear, resentment, and frustration.
America is ready and waiting for the next big thing, a shift in perspective; a collective move towards creating a new culture, the next New Deal. Still, this says that we are waiting for something to come, something other and deeply perceived as beyond our control. If we think about driving a car, we can ask who is driving the car. We probably don’t have an answer, as the car is set to cruise control. Although we hit a few potholes, maybe a slight fender bender, and every so often a big crash–the car keeps on driving as if a mind of its own. Culture and humanity are a single thread, so as long as we exist so too will some form of culture; the car will keep on moving forward, life will continue to evolve. But what if we decided to collectively take control of the car? What would that look like? What will we do with all of us backseat drivers, road hogs, and don’t forget the road-ragers? Here in lies the challenge. Culture is a collective, yet, with an individualistic sense of self many of our perspectives conflict. We think we’re the best driver, we come from this individualistic way of seeing ourselves in the world, and it is our ideals that hinder what a collective really is. Our ideals are not necessarily the problem–that is of course unless they expressly wish to destroy all else. I think we thought we had ourselves all figured out once we seasoned our democratic ideologies, however, for any real cultural change to come now, we must be willing to question our idea of progress and what will make progress possible. America is that very humanistic quest for freedom, and that freedom is much more then setting ink to paper and high intellect setting out the framework. What that freedom is at its core, is a profound spiritual longing that has always driven and that is the evolutionary process–and that process is us. And until we go back to that core; our source of volition, we’ll continue on a course–beyond that of the intentions of any Nation–and will continue to feel as if we have no role, no power, no understanding. The car keeps moving forward in cruise control. So, what will it look like when we take the car out of cruise control, and how then will we share collectively as drivers?