Opening Hearts and Minds:

What’s important to us?

By Suzen Fiskin
Reader Contributor

In all of the fray still playing out from this political cycle, I can’t help but be mystified at the level of division between the people of our country. I recognize that much of this is created by mainstream media, yet we the people are actually a whole lot more alike than we are different.

If you were to stop most people on the street and ask them what’s important to them, you’d find a pattern of our shared values. We want to know that we and those we love are safe, well-fed, have a decent home, access to healthcare and a good education. We want clean air, water and a healthy environment. We want opportunity, job security with fair pay, and that we’ll be treated fairly and equally. Many want to make a difference, share compassion, kindness, love, have fun, and to know that they matter.

You rarely hear people saying that they’re for war, fear, greed, hatred or violence, yet we are inundated with these values at every turn in the media.

I also think that people of all political persuasions truly want our country to be great again. We might differ in our ideas of how to get there, yet we can give a collective thumbs up on the direction we’d like to go.

One of the finest moments I’ve ever seen on television was on the TV show “The Newsroom.” Jeff Daniels, the actor, plays a news anchor who tells it like he sees it. He was on a panel discussion with other news people and was asked by a young college woman, “What makes America the greatest country in the world?”

After dodging the question, Daniels rises to the occasion. “There’s absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world. We’re seventh in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real and defense spending, where we spend more than the next 26 countries combined, 25 of whom are allies.”

Looks of shock echoed off of the audience’s faces. He went on – I’ve shortened it a bit for print:

“It sure used to be (the greatest) . . . We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not on poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great, big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases and we cultivated the world’s greatest artists AND the world’s greatest economy. We aspired to intelligence, we didn’t belittle it. It didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t scare so easy. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed… First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.”

If we look to the world of politics, we can notice that essentially the ONLY value considered in how to take our country forward is MONEY. People just shrug their shoulders in resignation when asked about the corruption, greed, economic disparity, and loss of faith and trust in our government and institutions.

Our Constitution, the foundation of what made this country great, was never based on the bottom line. We were guaranteed the undeniable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our country was built on diversity, equality, truth and freedom—freedom of speech, assembly, to worship and believe whatever we choose, and more. There was an inherent promise of opportunity for all of us to become all that we can be, and of justice for all.

We’ve strayed from these core values on virtually every front. We’ve let the avarice of the few override the greater good time and time again. Our “representatives” rarely represent we the people.

It’s time to come together to create collaborative solutions to our enormous challenges using the ideals that we have in common. To make this country great again, we need to redirect it based on the values from which it was created, to start talking with one another again, and to heal our divide.

As Patrick Henry stated in 1799, “Let us trust God, and our better judgment to set us right hereafter. United we stand, divided we fall. Let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs.”

Let’s wake the heck up to take our country back from the special interests that have profited so richly from our apathy and division.

United we stand!

Suzen Fiskin is a Happiness Coach, multi-media marketing wiz, and inspirational speaker. She’s also the author of the book, Playboy Mansion Memoirs. If you have any questions or comments, email her at: [email protected].

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