Dr. Mike Obsatz, Professor Emeritus at Macalester College
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America as an Adolescent Culture
America became official in 1776. That is 245 years ago. But America, to me, is more like 15 years old. It is a complex nation, filled with people from all over the world. Some came over here to escape oppression. Some came to reap a harvest of freedom and opportunity they did not have where they were. Others were forced to come here in chains, as slaves.
This mixture involves people of a variety of cultures, colors, histories, and lifestyles. For a while, America was called a "melting pot." People supposedly acculturated into one common glop of chowder. Then, the country was described more like a stew. This was a mixture of various flavors and smells.
I believe America is an adolescent, in its very early and immature stages, unable to deal with the complex diversity of its people. Simple rules don't work anymore. The white males who founded the country were narrow in their beliefs and experiences. Freedom for all did not include children, women, Native Americans or slaves.
The first thing Americans did when they arrived is kill some of the natives who lived here, taking their land and resources.
America was settled by people who came from the British Empire, and they created their own Empire here. Empire Consciousness is the belief that one has the right to dominate, control, and destroy others who get in the way of their "Manifest Destiny." Empire is always about power and domination, shame and fear, and scarcity.
To me, America has stayed stuck in an adolescent phase of development. The revolutionary war is not yet over. Adolescents can be:
Very motivated by external rewards
Worried about what others think of them
Defiant and resistant to facts and reality
Hyper-critical of others
Tend to see things as black and white (polarization)
Moody and temperamental
Ignorant of the world's complexities
Hypocritical -- say one thing, do another
Living in denial
In America there is a focus on being young, looking young. There is also the mistreatment of elders.
In the computer age, young people may believe they don't need elders to teach them anything. They can find out all they need to know on the computer. (See Robert Bly's "The Sibling Society.")
Everything is public, and their privacy is easily invaded with hacking.
No wonder there has been so much turmoil in effectively dealing with COVID-19. Over 600,000 Americans have died. It is a major pandemic and requires maturity, compassion, and resourcefulness to handle its deadly consequences.
It is my hope that we can learn from our mistakes, and develop a more Oneness Consciousness with care and compassion for others. The vast amount of violence, destruction, and oppression of the poor, the minorities, and outsiders can only change when a culture is willing to mature and grow up, become adult and aware.
Healthy action can only follow if mature internal awareness is there.
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