Remember, remember, the…something

It’s May 28th, Memorial Day.  In the US.  Here, it’s Monday.  It’s always a bit odd to see a lack of flags and marching bands on these days.  We were married on July 4th, and a tiny part of me expected to hear fireworks when the sun set.

Memorial Day is always a weird day for me.  Though I am a child of military, and my father is a DAV, I’ve never quite understood the concept of dying for God and country.  I’d die for my kid, my husband, but my country?  I’d rather fight to fix it.  And therein lies the issue.  There has been in the past few decades a creeping strain of patriotism that disallows the mere mention of dissent.  USA IS #1.  There is no other point of view, no other perspective.  And that, my friends, is a dangerous ideology, not the least bit because we’re not #1.

We are woefully inadequate in our education system, testing far poorer than other 1st world nations.  We have much fatter kids than other nations of the same type of GDP, and higher infant mortality.  While our state of medicine is world renowned, that’s only for people who can afford it – overall, our healthcare system ranks near the bottom worldwide.  We have an incredibly weak system of checks and balances for some of the most simple things, like food production, chemical consumption, and even where toxic waste can be stored.  And let us not forget our global reputation for shooting first and asking questions…when we get around to it.  If we get caught.  And enough people get upset with us that we even have to address what we did.

So no, we’re not the best in the world.  But to the ideologues, simply whispering the above facts is tantamount to treason.

The ironic thing is, this concept of smoke-and-mirroring that the US is the greatest is what will eventually lead to its downfall.  As every good businessman knows, innovation is key to continued success.  You look at your competition, see what they are doing right and wrong, and learn from their mistakes and triumphs.  You don’t dig your heels in and proclaim “Our way is the best, so we’re sticking with it!”.  That is a recipe for disaster.

Look at Canon and Kodak.  Both gained prominence as photography businesses, happily making film-based cameras.  However, Canon saw that the market was changing, and that one day, film might be obsolete.  In 1992, they debuted their first digital camera, and amongst many other innovations (such as branching into calculators, printers, and the like), became a world leader.  And what about Kodak?  Well, in 1975, almost a full two decades before Canon, Kodak unveiled a digital camera…and then scrapped the product, fearing that it would interfere with its film based sales.  Had Kodak looked ahead without fear, it would be an American powerhouse.  Instead, it recently filed for bankruptcy.

One company looked at its environment, its consumers, and itself, and knew that it needed to change.  One dug in its heels, assured that the world would bend to it.  I know which one I would rather have stock in.  And while it’s simplistic to think of a nation as a corporation (because as we all know, corporations are people, my friend), the concepts remain the same.  While much of the civilized world had embraced social concepts decades before, the US dug in their heels on things like slavery, women’s voting rights, interracial marriage, and even equal pay and universal health care (which to this day, the US does not have either of).  Rather than looking at countries who are doing rather well in this current economic climate and seeing how their strategies can be adapted, the US digs in its heels and expects the world to bend.

The world is no longer bending to the US.

It’s adapt or die time.

And maybe they’ll turn it around soon.  Maybe they’ll stop putting crosshairs over political opponant’s districts.  Maybe SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE will learn the political differences between communism, marxism, and socialism and use them correctly, and not just as the catch all word for someone you don’t like.  Maybe we’ll stop comparing everyone to Hitler.  Maybe we’ll look back to 60 years ago when blacks and whites couldn’t marry because the various churches said it was ungodly, and a lightbulb will go over our heads regarding same sex unions.  Maybe, just maybe, someone will read the 1st Amendment all the way through.

Maybe if we do that, those lives lost in battle won’t be in vain.  Maybe we’ll honor their memory by learning, growing, and succeeding, not burying our heads in the sand and waiting for life to stop.