martes, 18 de abril de 2023

The American dream is worth fighting for



In 2003 my wife and I decided to emigrate from Venezuela to the U.S. due to the deteriorating political and social conditions in our counttry generated by the authoritarian and corrupt Hugo Chavez regime. We both loved the U.S. where we had studied, worked and lived.  We saw the U.S., as in the words of John Winthrop, later repeated by Ronald Reagan in his farewell speech, as the shing city on the hill:  a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here”.  We knew  that in the U.S. we could be good citizens and live “in harmony and peace”. This was our American dream.

And for many years, until my unforgettable wife left me, victim of Covid, in july 2020, our dream came true. Although our hearts ached for our country and our people, we found happiness here. We were spared the Venezuelan storm,  only heard the distant thunder.

Today I fear the U.S. is ill, showing some similarities to what has made  Venezuela a terminal case. The social fabric of the nation,  built historically on social solidarity, respect and common sense, qualities that have been the source of its strength, is becoming weaker, while distrust is mounting.  

When I first came to the U.S., in 1950, to study Geology in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the first thing I admired about life in the U.S. was the great level of trust that prevailed in society. My tendency to exaggerate, frequent in our Venezuelan culture, was taken literally. When using colloquial spanish such as : “I have told you a thousand times” my  U.S. school mates looked surprised and  would reply: “A thousand times? You only told me twice!”. 

In Venezuela the level of trust was low, which made social transactions more time consuming and less efficient.  I always remember the day I walked into a bank in Disneyland, California, to cash a check from a New York bank. A smiling  teller dressed as Mickey Mouse paid me without question. In Venezuela I probably would have had to present even my birth certificate to prove my identity. What took me five minutes in Disneyland would have taken me much longer in Venezuela. This simple example, I felt, illustrated the reason why the U.S. society was more developed than ours.   

Today, however, I was noticing symptoms of the U.S. being in danger of becoming seriously ill. What were some of these symptons?

·      An extreme polarization which had invaded most aspects of national life, leading to intolerance and, even, violence. Environment, education, sexual preferences, abortion, gender issues, gun acquisition and carrying regulations, politics, were becoming true battlefields, truth being one of the earliest casualties. People now prefer to be told what reinforces their prejudices, rather than the objective truth, a new, ominous term coined (alternative truth, by Kellyanne Conway). Fox News and CNN now tell their audiences what they  prefer to hear while meaningful interaction has given way to preaching to the converted.

·      Bipartisanship, one of the most positive characteristics of U.S. legislative activity,  is seriously diminished and the vote of conscience has become rare. Even the Supreme Court, historically perceived as independent,  is now subject to charges of political bias and low ethical standards.

·      Ethics are having a difficult time, even at the highest levels of leadership. A proven liar recently elected to Congress, George Santos, has not been punished and is protected by the Speaker of the House since his presence reinforces his party’s majority in the House of Representatives. The sons and daughters of former U.S. president Trump and the son of current president Biden have used the position of their fathers to advance  personal business. At least a member of the Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas, has shown disdain for transparency and has allowed his wife to become involved in political  activities which conflict with his position. 

·      Mass shootings are multiplying and now exceed car/traffic accidents as causes of death. More than one mass shooting per day have taken place this year. This trend will continue until better gun control is exercised, a dificult objective to accomplish due to a rigid ideological interpretation of the second constitutional amendment

Children are more likely to die by guns than anything else

·      Drug deaths have become epidemic. Nearly 110,000 people died last year in the country due to drug overdoses, a 800% increase in the last 20 years.

·      Personal agendas rather than the national interest seem to be driving presidential pre candidacies. This is the case of former President Donald Trump, who recently said to his followers, see : “I am your warrior, I am your justice… I am your retribution” a statement full of resentment and violence,  totally improper for someone who aspires to lkead a nation.  Current President Joseph Biden is planning to run again in 2024 in spite of his age and of signs of diminishing alertness and stamina for this demanding job.

·      There is a growing trend away from the traditional concept of  a melting pot in which cultural diversity can peacefully coexist  with a strong sense of national identity. Today we witness the emergence of tribes, each one in its own cultural silo, hostile to its neighbor.  Some strong pillars of U.S. society, such as churches, are breaking down due to differences of opinion that have become sources of conflict. For example, the Methodist church is experiencing major disgregation due to conflicting postures on how to deal with same sex marriages. Over 2000 churches have become disafiliated from the central church during the last three years.  

These and other similar diverging trends are eroding the foundations of the nation. As Richard Haass says: “The most urgent and significant threat to American security and stability stems not from abroad but from within”. In his important book, “The Bill of Obligations”, Haass adds that “our very concept of citizenship needs to be revised or better yet,  expanded, if American democracy is to survive”. 

Most of us, who are not born in the U.S., have come to share with the natives the wonderful American. Most of us have been received with generosity and would love to pay back, helping to keep the country socially healthy, reinforcing the qualities of common sense, tolerance and respect for each other that made the U.S. a great nation, as Alexis De Tocqueville described it many years ago.  Many of us who have made the U.S. our home have lived through situations in our native countries that we would not like to see repeated here, because we know they have led to suffering and  ruin.

We want to help this great country to avoid traveling those paths. Our warnings come from love.  

10 comentarios:

Anónimo dijo...

Fíjate Gustavo que muchos venezolanos, como Antonio Pérez Suárez, coronel, 114vo. de su promoción y amigo de Tarek Al Aissame, pensaron que iban a robar mucho más y por siempre.

Una de las cosas que más me angustia sobre el mañana es que no hay una generación preparada, lo que ha producido el chavismo son burros, y la ignorancia prevalece sobre la educación. Lorena Méndez es una periodista que cuenta exactamente qué militares han robado con Tarek y dónde están los dineros. Pero un pueblo sin educación, ¿Cómo entiende que le han robado su futuro?

Es el gobierno de los peores. La Cacostocracia.

Yo me fui temprano de Venezuela, año 1999, pero sí te digo que los Pérez Suárez de Venezuela cada día son más, el chavismo ha militarizado casi cada sector de la vida del país. Entiendo que no hay peor ciego que el que no quiere ver esto.

Me parece que lo que dices sobre EUA es pertinente. En el Reaganato o incluso en el Nixonato todo funcionó como las instituciones así lo decidieron. Es un error garrafal que este próximo período sea encabezado por dos personas que suman casi 200 años en sus edades.

¿Una venezolanización en puertas?

Nota: Vivo en la pequeña ciudad de Treinta y Tres, Uruguay. Mis padres llegaron a Acarigua en 1975.

Señor Abdo.

Anónimo dijo...

Indeed the US is being destroyed within. One of the main culprits is the way of thinking (liberalism? leftist?) that allows "drag queens" lecturing in Kindergartens while Christians are being banned from speaking out .. That allows biological men to be considered women, just because they "feel" they are women ... A nation where the president is threatening to veto a law that protects women from men while competing in sports .. A nation that is in decline, with foreign and national enemies threatening our way of life while the president is senile, absent and incapable .. The American dream its becoming a nightmare ...

JC, Atlanta

Gustavo Coronel dijo...

JC is right calling attention to these trends that are getting out of hand. Problem areas are being created by extreme positions fromn the so called left and, also, from the so called right. It is the task of rational Americans to solidify the center, to apply intelectual honesty, common sense and the truth to minimize the excesses from the extremes.
In short, it's time for Homo sapiens to behave like Homo sapiens and not as Homo neanderthalis.

Anónimo dijo...

Covid has killed over a million Americans and many more worldwide. It was always known, as per the Trump administration, that China was behind this deadly virus, which is now being confirmed with the congressional hearings taking place, that the virus was leaked from a Chinese lab. In the meantime the Biden administration doesn’t do a thing and lacks leadership to hold China accountable, they are just seating on their hands. Another example of the American decline and moving farther away from the American dream. What a shame.

Gustavo Coronel dijo...

In this isue of blaming China both presidents have been very careful.
President Trump lauded China publicly 15 times for their control of COVID, please see:
We have to make an effort to see the sources of problems in both sides, if such is the case, not only one side, and to document every assertion we make. Otherwise we become soldiers in the fight to destroy U.S. society.

Anónimo dijo...

Is evident the Biden Administration is accelerating the decline of the US, and the American dream. Name any problem the US is facing today and it's evident the lack of leadership and ineptitude in all fronts: Immigration, the economy, Inflation, Oil&Gas, political polarization, crime, vandalism, international relations, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Rusia, China, Iran, Covid deaths, Moral decay, etc, etc.
Here is an article on the Covid issue:

Anónimo dijo...

Anónimo dijo...

Estamos sufriendo, como Venezuela y Cuba, de ideas izquierdas estupidas promovidas usando odio racial, los medios de comunicación, escuelas y politicos corruptos en busca de riquezas y poder. El pais es un pastel grande que estan comiendo.

Anónimo dijo...

El partido Democrato en EEUU es ahora de base Marxista/Socialista y ve a los comunistas chinos como "hermanos" en la lucha contra el capitalismo. Estupido, triste, y traicionero.

Anónimo dijo...

EEUU se esta pudriendo por dentro con las ideas izquierdistas y malsanas que están envenenando a esa sociedad; ese sueño Americano como que va a pasar a la historia. Y todo esto apoyado por el gobierno de Biden y su partido demócrata. Y lo peor del caso es que, como acá en Venezuela, una gran mayoría de los votantes dicen y que van a seguir votando por ellos.
El pueblo si es verdad que se equivoca y no como dijo famosamente el presidente Rafael Caldera cuando "gano" Chavez y que "el pueblo nunca se equivoca" ..