That sense of dread

By Jay Jamison

In the midst of unprecedented prosperity among Americans, with incomes rising, the national economy doing better than expected, and most Americans –ordinary people– experiencing a wealth of new electronics and conveniences that were only pipe dreams of the rich and powerful just a few years ago, you’d think that there would be an overall sense of national contentment. Yet, it seems that with so many of our material desires satisfied, there still remains an underlying sense of dread in the land. In spite of what we may be actually experiencing, we are continually warned that disaster is just around the corner. In addition to the disaster scenario, we are also told that America is a vicious, greedy, racist, misogynist nation. Yet, I notice that those terrible things tend to vanish the moment I turn off the TV and ignore social media. Yes, there are jerks out there that can be characterized by such epithets, but it seems that such negative generalizations about America as a whole, are based on too few actual events to uphold the sweeping conclusion.

A counterexample, which cites the judgments of millions of individuals, is that at any given time a huge number of people are willfully attempting to get into this supposed hellhole of a country. Are those who risk their lives and fortunes attempting to get here –either legally or illegally– are they simply delusional?

It’s ironic that many of those who preach that this country is a very bad place are often the very folk who want open borders. If they were consistent and charitable about their beliefs, you’d think they’d want to secure the borders in the hope that the innocent potential immigrants would not be lured into such a wicked place. On the other hand, how many people are frantically attempting to leave the country? Among those who have been here for generations, as well as new immigrants, very few are heading for the exits. Even among the few Hollywood celebrities who continually threaten to leave the country, most remain.

Enormous numbers of individuals trying to get in and very few trying to get out is reason enough to doubt the nasty generalizations about America. There is another argument that should help calm any overwhelming sense of dread and guilt. I suspect that my personal experiences of day-to-day public life are not that much different than a majority of people. I walk down sidewalks and see people of all races going about their daily business, just as I am. If someone drops something out of a grocery sack in a parking lot, others and I, will usually lend a hand.

Last summer, I drove across the country to Maine. I didn’t see a single incident that could be rationally thought to be racist, misogynist or even greedy. In fact, I witnessed plenty of the opposite. I saw many people acting with generosity and respect toward total strangers, which included me. f I am to risk a generalization, I’d say that most people’s experiences more closely resemble mine, than the supposed experiences upon which the epithets about a wicked nation rest. My conclusion also rests on the indisputable fact that most of the people making those remarks are still here.

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