3rd World America
As a USAF veteran, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to travel the world, experience numerous cultures, and see some of the best this small planet of ours has to offer. I’ve ridden a camel through the Sahara Desert, visited several of the Egyptian Pyramids, swam in the Red Sea, drank beer in Germany, sunbathed in Spain, toured a bit of Italy, shopped for gold in Qatar’s bazaars, visited WWII sites in the Philippines, pulled some R&R in Kenya, climbed Mt Sinai at 3am to watch the sun rise, touched remnants of the burning bush @ St Catherine’s Monastery, etc. Those were some great times…
With that said, I’ve also seen some of the worst this world has to offer. In many of the places I’ve visited over the years, although exciting to experience, I witnessed far too much human suffering. Poverty is rampant and almost the “norm” around the 3rd world. In some of the extreme cases, I’ve seen homeless beggar children (and adults) roaming city streets pleading for handouts; in-your-face prostitution as impoverished girls try to earn money any way they can to better their lives; entire communities living in slums/shanty towns--some living next to or in garbage dumps—existing off the refuse of others; the disfigured & crippled cast aside by society, and with no social programs available, left on the street to fend for themselves… I guess the absolute worst that I’ve seen over the years was the massive numbers of starving, skeletal shells of human beings trying to survive any way they could in war-torn Somalia--the smell of death hanging in the stale air as thousands of bodies slowly decayed beneath shallow improvised graves baking in the desert sun… It was an absolute nightmare and words cannot describe the complete despair and atrocious living condition of those people.
Anyway, each of these unique travels was a new learning experience for me, yet my heart always ached for the thousands upon thousands of unfortunate people I encountered. But aside from empathy, I knew there was little I could do for these folks.
Ultimately however, these travels & human experiences did open my eyes to the many blessings that I had previously taken for granted, and it also provided me with a much better appreciation for the countless advantages that we, as American citizens, have. Lastly, these experiences provided me with a new awareness for the fragility of life in general.
I only wish more Americans could visit 3rd world countries to see how the majority of the world lives. I honestly believe that most Americans have no concept of what life is like outside of our borders, and aside from what little they see on TV (when not watching Survivor or Idol) they are completely oblivious of the hardships people endure just to survive.
So, why am I bringing up this issue? Answer: We are a great nation of wealth built through the hard work and sacrifice of our forefathers, yet I believe our greatness is slowly slipping away--from both an economic and a cultural standpoint. In our get rich quick, baggy pants wearing, MTV lovin, fast-food eating, living for today, throw-away cultural mind-set, I think we’ve lost sight of what is or should be important, we don’t respect one another, we don’t appreciate what we have and are far too preoccupied with our own self interests. We have turned into an “all about me” society where everyone wants something for nothing and if we can’t get it now, we whine until someone listens.
American society has made it an accepted norm to be caught up in trivial things (fashion, keeping up with the Jones', reality TV, the latest unsolved murder mystery, sports, shopping, Hollywood, petty lawsuits, material things, etc), and the truly important things in life (family, values, education, hard work, social courtesies, respect, religion, caring for others, etc) have fallen by the wayside. Each and every day our brains are filled with mush and we become far too ignorant to realize that the things that once made us a great nation are slipping away.
I love this country, but feel that if things don’t change soon, we’ll eventually follow the path of the Romans and ultimately will see to our own demise... A 3rd world America.