"The greater part of what my neighbors call good I believe...to be bad." Thoreau

This post was precipitated by an atheist’s blog in which the owner said she had donated blood for the people of the U.S. Bible Belt after last week’s tornadoes. I immediately wondered why she would give blood to people who wouldn't want their sons to marry her; who wouldn’t vote for her for any office whatsoever; who would do their damnedest to shove their religion down her throat while silencing her own beliefs; and whose enthusiastic acceptance of this country’s torture of political prisoners would imply that it wouldn’t take much encouragement for them to subject people like her to a similar fate. George H. Bush surely spoke for most Americans when he said: “I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots.”

Other things that make me feel that I’m not a true citizen of the U.S. of A:

I know almost nothing about modern American music, movies, celebrities, or commercial television—and I would be embarrassed if I did.

The death of bin Laden. Aside from the fact that it’s in questionable taste to take to the streets to celebrate the death of anyone, bin Laden’s attack inspired us to: curtail our own civil liberties, waste a trillion and a half dollars, cause the deaths of 1.75 million people, and become a nation of torturers; so rather than gloat because we have at long last killed him, we should hang our heads in shame over the far greater evil that we have done.

The fact that America cares not a whit for the opinions of the cultured or the learned, but let Oprah Winfrey or Donald Trump express any opinion on anything, and you will hear of it. Only the opinions of the rich and famous matter in America.

Going to the library for a book on Thomas Paine (one of America’s most important founding fathers) and only finding two books on him versus a dozen on his shelf-mate, Sarah Palin.

The news media because it is a tool for marginalizing dissidents, and it succeeds very well indeed. I’ll give two examples from last week.

1) England’s royal wedding, strangely enough. It occupied a full third or more of the national news all week despite that fact that 328 Americans were killed and major portions of many towns were destroyed by tornadoes. If the news is to be believed, the whole country was absolutely gaga over that wedding.

2) A local cop’s funeral last week during which a 1,000-vehicle procession proceeded up and down the streets of the city for two solid hours creating major traffic jams. Surely I’m not the only one who thought the hype, the in-your-face machismo, and the unwarranted favoritism (others who die while serving the public good are not so honored), was absurd, yet you would never have suspected it from watching the local news.

Almost everything my government does. It’s as if the people who are running this country are hell-bent on its speedy destruction, and the voters are behind them all the way. I stand aghast at the way this country is run, not just sometimes, but all the time.

The myths that Americans hold about this country. For example: that we’re uniquely favored by god to be the pre-eminent nation on earth; that the free world loves us for protecting it; that we are a moral example to other nations; that everything about America is the best in the world; and that other nations are either completely for us or completely against us, with the latter being on the side of evil.

America is so in love with size and convenience that we ignore the most basic means of protecting the environment even when they would save us money. For example, recycling, composting, reusable shopping bags, fuel-efficient vehicles, public transit, minimal product packaging, and smaller homes on smaller lots. We’re betting this country’s future on the hope that advancing technology will make it possible for us to be wasteful forever, yet we give very little funding to developing that technology.

Our entire economy is built on permanent growth (i.e. more goods for more people forever), yet permanent growth is unsustainable. This is not a fact that Americans can acknowledge simply because Americans are obsessed with owning things. (We call it “retail therapy,” and our national motto is “Shop ‘til you drop.”) I would even suggest that we have basically two religions in this country. The most popular by far is consumerism, and its distant second is Christianity, yet this is not the order we acknowledge. Because I embrace neither, it’s as if I’m in a constant state of pissing on the flag, which, come to think of it, I am—I speak of what the nation has become rather than the ideals upon which it was founded.

In fact, the two things that I hate most in this world are the United States of America and Christianity, because while there are worse things, these are the two that are in my face everyday. Yet, the world’s best hope isn’t that my greedy, arrogant, wasteful, bankrupt, and warmongering nation collapses but that it evolves. I fear that the first is all but certain, and the second all but fanciful. I say this because America shows no signs of changing its ways despite the fact that it is very nearly eyeball to eyeball with destruction. To hell with future generations and even the earth itself, Americans want what they want, and they want it now.


Stafford Ray said...

Bin Laden was a symptom, not the illness. But as we seem happy enough to treat only the symptom, we will celebrate that until the next relapse!
Thank God for Guantanamo Bay!
You seem a bit chirpier Snow.

Margaret said...

I'm not here to trash your opinions and statements. I think I understand where you are coming from, and though I don't feel they way you do on any of your points and I do hear what you are saying and recognize a bit of America in what you describe. My question, and not meant in any way to be hostile, but truly curious, is why do you live here? And if you could live in any country, where would it be? And I read about your chronic pain - truly can't imagine that roller coaster. I take Tylenol like it is going out of style when I feel a migrane coming on. I hope you conquer the pain someday.

kylie said...

i thought my post on this was a bit tough but you, mr snow brush call a spade a shovel even more than i do.
it's good to see

Snowbrush said...

Stafford, the most I can say is that last night was better than the night before, and that was encouragement enough to keep me from the calling the doctor today.

Margaret, you might want to try Zomig for the pain and Phenergan for the nausea. They help my wife, and she has a major problem with migraines. However, she has found is that she has to take the pills early.

As for why I live in America, I'll just throw out a few thoughts before I have to turn the computer over to my wife:

I haven't been anyplace else (well, most of lower Canada and a few border towns in Mexico), so I wouldn't know where to go.

I'm suspicious of geographical fixes.

My wife and I are near retirement, and our healthcare benefits wouldn't be any good out of the country.

There's the problem of moving our possessions to some (possibly) distant chore, as well as possibly learning a new language and certainly in a new culture.

All that said, I might very well consider Canada if not for the lousy winters.

One final thought is that if everyone who is critical of the U.S. leaves the U.S., then how is anything to change? Remember the old bumper sticker: "Get your heart in America, or get your ass out"? It presupposed, of course, that its owner's interpretation of America was the only valid vision for America, and with this I would wholly disagree.

Snowbrush said...

Kylie, you wrote while I was writing. As for your post, I just want you to know that with bin Laden out of the way, the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) has plenty of time to keep tabs on you Australians. And remember, we do have nukes, lots and lots of nukes.

kylie said...

is that a nuke in your pocket?

Snowbrush said...

Peggy had to get up for a minute from her own blog ("I love Jesus, but I worship Sarah Palin"), so I'm back.

Margaret, a word about acetaminophen. It's way toxic to your liver even in recommended doses if you use it regularly.

Kylie said: "is that a nuke in your pocket?"

Right pocket or left pocket? One contains a banana.

Elephant's Child said...

Some day I will read one of your posts and disagree with you. Not today though.

And I don't know how rejoicing in anyone's death fits with the 'Christian philosophy'. I also don't know what it is going to achieve in this specific case. Sigh.

And the celebrity mania seems to cross countries and cultures. It is certainly true in Oz. Even if said celebrities have no education and seem barely able to think, what they say is correct. Aaaargh.

Glad you had a better night though.

ellen abbott said...

I can't disagree with a single thing you wrote. And I was starting to embellish with my own but then deleted it. I would only be repeating you.

As for why do we live here then? Well, I was born here. My family and roots are here and those roots go back 15 generations on this continent. My ancestors fought to create this country but I wonder if they would be appalled by what it has become.

Besides, Canada is too cold. I like Mexico though. I could live in a small Mexican caribbean town I think.

But why should I leave? According to Thomas Jefferson, 'dissent is the highest form of patriotism' which makes me a greater patriot than all the 'go-alongs' out there who just vote the party line cause they are stupid enough to believe that if they do, they'll get rich too.

And politicians are intent on keeping us stupid by refusing to fund education for the populace. They'd dis-mantle public education altogether if they thought they could get away with it.

so, I have been reading your other posts and have wanted to chime in with my support if not intelligent conversation but the time and mental clarity have not been available. I so hope that your surgery is the fix and you continue to have less and less pain.

Margaret said...

Thank you for responding. Many of my friends feel the way you do. If only politicians weren't... politicians and the media (both sides!) could be trusted. Thank God (or goodness) we are free to speak out and voice our opinions. Thanks for your words on migranes - I do take anti-nausea pills at times. Thanks goodness I don't get them often and feel them coming on quickly. But I rush for the "bottle" in fear of the pain. Can't imagine what it is like for you to deal with your constant pain...

khelsaoe said...

Love this post, along with all of the thoughtful things that come out of that brain of yours. That is all. Oh, and hi.

Marion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Snowbrush said...

Ellen, thank you so much for your kind words. I've written so many posts that I fully expected to be excoriated for, and sometimes I have been, but mostly they have brought to me the happy realization that I was not alone.

Margaret said: "Thank God (or goodness) we are free to speak out and voice our opinions."

Well, I had rather live here than in Beijing, of course, yet corporations control the American media and corporations control the American political process, so the free speech rights of people like you and I are of questionable value. It's also true that the attention span of Americans has become sound-bite length (I hardly consider myself immune from this trend since I'm not a terribly patient person anyway).

Khelasoe, I am SO glad you came by. It's been forever, seems like.

Marion said: "Snow, I keep you in my prayers..."

Marion, you've followed this blog for a long time, and I've asked you before to not tell me that you're praying for me. You wrote in this very comment about the importance of not giving selfishly. Very well, give me the gift that I want to have as opposed to the gift that you want me to have; give me the gift of keeping your prayers to yourself--that is, if you simply must offer them.

River said...

Not sure exactly what to say here. The America that you describe is the same one I've seen and heard on TV, in newspapers and magazines. A lot of the time I feel sorry for a lot of you.
But I feel the same way about my own country. Our politicians appear to be just as bad and no-one seems to have any clear idea on where they're heading and why.
I'm hoping there's enough of a "grass roots" type movement going on in both our countries so that evolving to a better future comes about.

Strayer said...

I think there are lots of people who deserve to die. Bin Laden was one of them. I admit to being afraid to speak my mind in America fully, on who deserves to die here and why. It's come to that. Looking over one's shoulder. Here in America.

As for the police officers funeral, his death was tragic to his family and friends. People die every day, many doing great things serving other people, the country, other countries, the environment--just doing their jobs, as he was doing. I too have wondered why some professions like police officers and firemen deserve more when they die. My brother echos this question. Police officers choose their profession. They get paid. They get public pensions. Crab fishing is still the most dangerous job, I hear.

I also have a tendency towards resentment, over the fact the media is quick to claim those labeled nutcases are dangerous when so many people die at the hands of the mental health system itself, or from its dangerous drugs, often forced upon one labeled, and shrinks. Lawmakers are considering how they can keep guns out of the hands of unstable people, with this Eugene officers death, even though someone who has been committed can't buy a gun anyhow. How about keeping weapons out of the hands of control freaks who kill their wives and kids at far greater rates than developmentally disabled lonely delusional schizophrenics kill Eugene police officers.

I live in an extremely conservative town that is highly Christian despite the same populaces' extreme addictions to illegal drugs, alcohol, animal abuse, neglect, personal irresponsibility and criminal behavior. And yet, lonely as I am, I am further ostracized if I dare mention I don't go to church or believe in religion. I believe my life is lived far closer to what Christians profess to believe than the life of any professing Christian I've ever encountered. That's not good enough here.

Unknown said...

Hey Snow
I am okay (regarding your comment on my blog)
Fighting the everyday issues that come with mental illness.
Depression sucks and the medications for it suck at times as well.
One day can be so brilliant and the next so frighteningly dark but this is the path i walk.

I am better now than this time last year when i was hospitalised for 9 weeks.

Things are so much better than then.

Thank you so much for caring to ask and i have enjoyed this recent post of yours.

Lisa xxx

Natalie said...

Sweetie, I think it would be safe for You and Peggy to come here to the Lucky Country. We speak a semblance of the Queen's English, we have mild winters, we have me and Stafford and Nolly and Kylie. Who could refuse? xx

Winifred said...

You'd be very welcome here Snowbrush! You'd make a great Brit and an absolutely brilliant Aussie! We build everything up and then we trash it. Just wait, the media will be doing their best next week to beat Kate & Wills to bits.

You think you had it bad with the Royal Wedding? Think about us, it was all that was on telly on the main channels all day. The rest of the world's news was hardly mentioned. Thankfully we're getting back to normal and are finding out what's been happening in the hiatus. Well I'm into conspiracy theory and this media coverage was to fool us into forgetting how bad everything is. Still I liked the frock and most people got an extra day off.

Now for the US you'll get Obama for another term, he'll milk Bin Laden. It's the same as when Maggie Thatcher took us to war with Argentina over the Falklands. Everybody hated her then suddenly she was the best thing ever.

I agreed with everything you said except the bit where you said you hate two things. I do my best not to hate anything. Don't think I'm a goody goody now. Despise? Now that's a whole different ball game.

Hope you feel better soon. Take care of yourself.

Snowbrush said...

River said: "Our politicians appear to be just as bad"

I kid you not. In America, the Supreme Court recently decided that corporations have the same free speech rights as individuals. This decision has opened the way for unlimited corporate spending on political campaigns.

Strayer said: "I too have wondered why some professions like police officers and firemen deserve more when they die."

Now, a street is to be named for him, and I didn't mention that his funeral was live on TV. I think that cops so honor their fallen simply because no one in government dares to say no to a anything that want to do. I don't begrudge them a nice ceremony, but tying up traffic for two hours! They weren't even accompanying a corpse to a graveyard; they were just riding around.

Lisa said: "Depression sucks and the medications for it suck at times as well."

It's the same with pain meds, Lisa.

Winifred and Natalie, thanks. I have more Aussie readers than I can shake a stick at (maybe that's an Americanism), and I don't know why, but I have wondered if I would get along with Aussies as well in person as I do on "paper."

Myrna R. said...

You always make your points so well. Criticism is healthy.

I read about your pain level. Hope it decreases to nothing soon.

Robert Head said...

This is a fantastic post, my friend. I only hope America can evolve; I just don't think it will make the crucial changes necessary - political, cultural, environmental, technological, ideological - in so short a time. And as for the US's and the UK's decade of tyranny, I can only agree with you - you really put things in perspective, and it's refreshing. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

I have a knee-jerk reaction to the celebrations going on over Ben Laden's death. While it couldn't have happened to a more deserving man, it happened too late, and bastards always have brothers who are bigger than they are and twice as mean.

But my main problem? One man's death can't make up for thousands, and MOST of those celebrating were probably proclaiming the same joy in church the following Sunday.

"Thank you Lord for blessing us with Ben Laden's death" sounds about right, followed by "Thank you Lord for our missionaries in ..... spreading word of your love."

I dunno. Sounds weird to ME. Maybe it's just ME.

Skepticat said...

Snow, you said,"One final thought is that if everyone who is critical of the U.S. leaves the U.S., then how is anything to change?"

This is precisely why I stay and help my neighbors when disaster strikes. I love them and care about their welfare in spite of how they act and it is my sincerest hope that one day they will change at least somewhat. It may not happen or it may not be enough change fast enough but at least I will have tried.

I'm only just now finding my strength and my voice to confront these things. If I can at least show them that atheists aren't all monsters, maybe I'll have made it easier for the next generation of atheists to be open in the Deep South.

rhymeswithplague said...

I'm late to the party, as usual.

While reading your post I thought, "He must be feeling better...."

So I'm thanking You-know-who for small favors, even though we have to put up with your ranting and raving about (a) the land of the not exactly free and the home of the only sporadically brave and (b) all of us idiots who actually believe in You-know-who and yet try to treat our neighbors as we would want to be treated when we could be out starting another Inquisition.

Have a nice day.

Snowbrush said...

Rhymes said: "all of us idiots who actually believe in You-know-who and yet try to treat our neighbors as we would want to be treated when we could be out starting another Inquisition."

I have been a Christian and I have been an out-of-the-closet atheist whereas you have only been a Christian, so I've seen the world through more eyes than you, and I know whereof I speak. Yet, I would never suggest that all Christians are bad people (or idiots) or that all atheists are good people (or intelligent). I would suggest that inasmuch as Christians are good people, they are such despite the teachings of the Bible rather than because of them.

I have always believed that you are both good and intelligent, yet this changes nothing about how I view the source of your faith, the Bible. Likewise, you would surely admit that many Moslems, Mormons, Christian Scientists, and others are both good and intelligent, yet you have little to no respect for the tenets of their religion as laid out in their holy books. So, Rhymes, it is never about you that I write. It is about religious faith itself and about the mean-spiritedness that I associate with religious people in general. Imagine how differently you would view your life in Saudi Arabia--should you live there--if you were a devout Moslem versus an outspoken atheist. As the former, you might very well think you live among people who are loving and moral, but should you become an atheist, you would no doubt see those same people very differently. So it is that I see Christians--as a group--very differently than you do and, yes, I fully believe that the majority of Christians would be very happy indeed to revive the Inquisition. Of course, they would leave the actual bloodshed to others.

Rhymes, I can but say to you that I love you, and that I never mean to hurt you. In fact, it is my fervent hope that you and I can remain friends despite our very great differences. My relationship with you--through out blogs--has been one of the chief joys of blogging for me. I ever look forward to your visits to my blog and my visits to you blog, and I hope we can always continues to care about one another.

Snowbrush said...

Myrna, thank you for wishing me a life without pain. I'm only up now because the pain made sleep impossible. It is so wearying to live this way, not just for days or weeks, but for years.

Robert said: "This is a fantastic post, my friend."

Oh, thank you! I don't think I know you, but I look forward to visiting your blog.

Dana said: ""Thank you Lord for blessing us with Ben Laden's death" sounds about right, followed by "Thank you Lord for our missionaries in ..... spreading word of your love."

Yes indeed Dana. Say what you will about bin Laden, it was our president who professes to believe that we should love and do good for our enemies who ordered his death and the deaths of thousands of other people. The gap between what most Christians profess to believe and how they behave is extraordinary, yet they seem utterly oblivious to that gap and ever ready to rationalize anything they want to do.

Skepticat said: "This is precisely why I stay and help my neighbors when disaster strikes. I love them and care about their welfare in spite of how they act..."

Yet, they would say that you can't be a moral person unless you believe in god. Septicat, you and many other atheists are kinder than I in the way you view, not just Christians, but humanity in general. I'm getting old and jaded, and I simply don't care anymore.

rhymeswithplague said...

Well, of course we can remain friends. Although I wouldn't use the word "remain" as though our friendship had been in jeopardy. We ARE friends. You ain't getting rid of me that easily.

I appreciate the frankness with which we can interact with one another, and yet without rancor. It is a rare achievement in the history of humankind.

Robert the Skeptic said...

As Pogo said: "We have met the enemy, and it is Us!"

The-Fire-Olympus said...

I feel the exact same way as you do about his death.

I didn't feel the joy that many other Americans felt just emptiness.

All I could think about were the dead soilders and Iragi civilians and all the innocent people whose lives our govenernment destoryed because they suspect them of being terrorists.

The question that kept ringing in my mind was

"Was he worth it?"

Lydia said...

Damn, this is a great post. Your final paragraph not only speaks to me but it speaks for me.

Get ready for a rainy weekend...this is getting old, eh?

C Woods said...

Snowbrush ----I thought you must have been channelling my husband or me when you wrote this post. We talk about this all the time ---the "good" Christians who wish death on others, those who quietly accepted the curtailment of our civil liberties after 9/11, lack of respect for the environment, the corporate greed, the personal greed, the fact that anyone would accept Donald Trump or Sarah Palin as serious presidential candidates .... and on and on. I like watching Jeopardy and playing along, but I would bomb out on any category having to do with contemporary pop culture. I just don't pay attention ---and I'm beginning to think I'd be happier if I didn't pay attention to the news either.

We often talk about where we are going to retire ---and we have considered your neck of the woods as being more liberal and less religious than our current location, but we've also considered living abroad. We would, of course, have to learn another language, but maybe not being fluent would be a plus ---we'd miss a lot of the local political BS, wouldn't we?

I spent some time living in another country, but I was in my 20s and didn't give a hoot about politics, then. In fact, a minor coup occurred and I didn't know it until I got home years later. Seeing the U.S. from a different point of view made me realize all the hoopla about our being the best, wasn't true, Every culture is just different ---not better or worse. Most of what we can live with has to do with what we grew up with and what our expectations are.

After living without full-time electricity, no running water, no sewage system, & few opportunities for women, I came back more appreciative of the opportunities I had here. But a part of me still longs for that simple way of life where I had few belongings and what was important wasn't what I owned but how I related to my friends, neighbors, and students. I would gladly live without the occasional snake that got into my house, though.

Angela said...

Hi Snow, now that you`ve written so much on my blog, I must return your visit! As you know, I am a German, but I spent a year in the US at a young age, meeting many people and travelling around a lot. You said you have never been abroad and cannot compare. That is too bad, travelling is really eye-opening. At least when you are ready to listen and watch without prejudice.
What I can say about "the Americans" I met, in many places (my base was PA, but I saw about 30states) was that ALL of them treated me friendly and open, no one said "You are a German? Get out!" as has happened to me in other countries in Europe. I still have friends from the time back then (1964), almost 50 years ago, and I found new ones through blogging. Especially the ones who care to write a blog are very often thoughtful, humorous, creative, and not imposing any of their beliefs on me. Many have seen the world, and have met people in other countries who are as stubborn and stupid or as open-minded and intelligent as we all are, being humans.
In my country there live many different nationalities. I have become friends with a man from Iraq, with a Palestinian, with Jews from Israel, Arabs, Turks, Japanese, Persians - and we could all decently talk with each other.
When you approach people not as - whatever label you care to give them - but as fellow humans, they are mostly nice. Yes, also Americans!!

Wine in Thyme said...

Interesting and thoughtful commentary Mr. Snowbrush. Can't say that I disagree with much,except your last paragraphy. I view the world with an optimimist's eye, and I love this country. I've been to a few other countries, and can tell you, even at our worst, we have a lot to offer. The entire country is not dialed into Oprah and The Donald, so please don't use an extra large paintbrush to depict that scenario. We still have readers, and thinkers, and farmers, and do-ers. As a result of my limited travels, I've always thought every American should travel to another country for at least a week to truly appreciate what we have (Cancun, Canada and the Bahamas do not count).
I've read a few of the comments to this discussion, and saw your response to why you live here. I hope that in addition your blog, you are active in additional attempts to change our world. Be the change you want to see.(cliche, sorry.) Nice blog. I'll be back.

julie said...

Loved it...Wish you were out of pain...

nollyposh said...

Unfortunately you are not the only country making such mistakes X:-(