R.I.P., My American Dream
Saying Goodbye to Bernie, Hoping America Can Survive as a Nation While Welcoming a New Vision
I don’t believe the United States of America as a political entity will survive this decade.
I didn’t want to write that. I’ve been putting off writing it for a while.
But this is not exactly an idea that just popped up for me. No, I’ve been feeling since the late 1990s that it was likely that the US would fade away in my lifetime like other empires, or more recently, the USSR.
It was (and is) all a matter of timing.
Now, before I go on, let me say something: I’m sorry. I really am. I know this is going to be a very challenging decade for people living in America and, likely, the world. I think Covid-19 is just the first blow in this “new reality.”
The reason I write it like that is because I left America in summer 2004 to move to Japan. At the time, I intended to marry my fiance, a Japanese native who I met in the United States, and teach English here for 3–5 years.
But I think I knew even then that I’d be here longer. And then in spring 2011, the East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, which led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster happened. Many of my friends who seemed to be more committed “lifers” than I was decided it was time to get out of Japan.
There were (and are) very real concerns about the extent of the damage that nuclear meltdown did to this country. However, I looked at the U.S. and how it was becoming ever more expensive, how it lacked the social safety net that Japan has (and Japan is no social democracy) and well, my wife and I decided to buy a house and stay here.
In that sense, I followed both my knowledge and my intuition and now, sitting here in April 2020 in a country where, yes, CV19 has had an impact, but no, it’s nothing like the situation back home in Washington state and the US and well, I feel a lot better about our decision.
Having said all that, I recognize I am in a privileged position and want to be clear to everyone how much I am, to quote one of the many U.S. presidents who I consider to be a failure, “feeling your pain.”
In fact, if there is no CV19, right now I am spending time with my parents in Washington and getting ready for a California road trip this weekend. I was going to meet some friends who I met on-line in 2009 and who have become as close to me as family but whom I’ve never met. They are awesome and I really want to spend time with them in person.
And after that, I was going to head out on a six-week, cross-country trip by train, bus, Uber, taxi, bicycle, boat, and foot — basically, as long as I was not driving by myself — meeting old friends, making new ones and writing a travelogue in the spirit of Hunter S. Thompson-meets-Bill Bryson-meets Alan Watts-meets…never mind. It was going to be fucking good and it was going to be all about how I see this as a decade where the world, including America, transitions from the consciousness of ‘me’ to the consciousness of ‘WE’ (thus the “no driving by myself” rule).
Anyway, here I am and while I am somewhat heartbroken about being on this timeline instead of the adventure in the U.S. one, well I’ve accepted it. It is what it is.
And second I am not happy about writing this essay, but I feel it must be written and shared with the world. In short, it’s time I say it:
I don’t think America as a political entity survives this decade. And I think that’s a good thing.
Bernie’s Gone, But His Movement Is Not
So, Bernie Sanders, a man I have admired since the mid-1990s for his consistency and commitment to basic human values, has suspended his presidential campaign.
Now, before you jump to any conclusions, please understand. I am writing “good” from an admittedly odd, and slightly selfish, perspective.
You see, I’ve watched the way Bernie operates for a long time now and I can tell when he’s no longer in the fight. When he’s taken the fight elsewhere.
Personally, I wish he’d gone fucking hard at Biden after Super Tuesday, hard at the Democratic Establishment, including all the “rising stars” like Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, and, it really pains me to say it, Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang, for quitting and immediately backing Biden.
I Want Bernie For President, But I Want to Promote Tusli Today
I know it seems absurdly early, but for the past several weeks I’ve been thinking about the November 2020 United States…
I wanted Bernie to drop, for a while at least, the “my friend Joe” line and just treat his friend like the political rival he was. I’m not sure about this, but I feel like Bernie must have never played competitive sports. I think I remember reading he played stickball in the streets of New York, but that doesn’t count. I’m talking about being on a team, or even playing an individual sport like tennis, and deciding that even though the guy or guys on the other side are good friends, it was time to kick their ass. And then, after you are finished, you go out for beers or, in my case, bowls of weed with them!
Anyway, that’s just not who Bernie is and I respect that. We are all different and to be the kind of person who can become president takes a certain arrogance that I don’t think he has. So be it.
And I also respect Bernie for turning his focus onto the CV19 situation and doing whatever he can to help Everyday people through it.
Last, like Benjamin Dixon did on his always excellent podcast, I give a ton of gratitude to Bernie for building this movement, for rescuing from the Realm of Ridicule concepts like universal health care and free public college and for dealing with so much bullshit from the Establishment Democrats and media over the years.
And so, like Dixon, I say to Bernie, “Thanks, brother, we’ll take it from here.”
But where I wonder do WE take it?
For Bernie’s campaign was never about him or about me or about you, it’s about US.
So I ask again: Where do WE take it?
What Do YOU Want to Do Now, Bernie Supporter?
I think this actually is an individual question that each of us will have a different answer to. But I hope it’s one that you put a fair amount of thought into. I sure have.
And I’ll be honest, my answer is still coming into focus. I know it has to do with simplifying my life, working with Nature and promoting a message that Humanity and Nature are the same thing. I think it also has to do with growing a garden, learning stuff about how Nature works, and getting involved in an eco-village movement. It may involve politics, but I doubt it involves U.S. presidential politics (at least for now).
Still not sure.
However, 2020 has given me a four-part mantra which I think can be useful to anyone. Here it is,
My 2020 Mantra:
I don’t know / We’ll see / Adjust accordingly / Everything is OK.
Your answer about where you think WE are headed is very likely going to be different than mine. And again, that’s OK.
But if you’ll stay with me a bit longer, I’d like to say where I think we, as a species, are headed and what I intend to do during these tumultuous times.
My Vision for the 2020s
I see humanity splintering. I call it The Great Splintering.
I see it mostly as a split between Culture and Nature.
What I mean by that, is a humanity that is disconnected from Nature but increasingly connected to Technology (Culture) and a Humanity that is connected to Nature and uses technology but very consciously.
One way of putting it could be in the Culture, we are slaves to Technology, in Nature, We work with technology as an extension of ourselves.
Does technology enslave us or serve us?
Now, this is a very complicated topic and one I’ll elaborate on more in future posts. For now, let’s just say I’ve observed in my life as well as in the Culture at-large a growing disparity between those who rarely get out into Nature and who, in my opinion, often have a FEAR-based attitude toward it and others who are becoming more in tune with Nature and come from a LOVE-based attitude.
I wrote a three-part series on climate change a few years ago and was surprised to find myself focusing so much on how the solution to not only what we call climate change but the Culture Wars (the human climate), is love.
As part of the splintering of the 2020s, I see people also splitting into disempowered (Culture) and empowered (Nature). The folks who follow Culture are generally convinced that once we die, that’s it, we are finished. It’s the perception of the ego, and again in both my experience and studies, it is a false perception.
I’ve done a lot of work with psychedelics and in that work, I’ve come to see how the egoic perception is just one form of perception, that when the ego disappears, WE remain. You can read another series I wrote on that topic here.
As far as bringing this larger topic down to America, I believe 2020 gives us the opportunity to perceive that we no longer need to give away our energy to needing a leader. In my opinion, Trump has not earned our respect as a leader and Biden can’t earn it. I feel Biden’s politics are too out of line with the times and his personality, while slightly better than Trump’s, is also seriously flawed (and this is not even getting into his cognitive functioning, which is an issue I think we do need to be aware of and concerned about.)
All of this is why I think it is a “good thing” that Bernie quit now. Now, Bernie supporters can have a little time to lick our wounds and then spend some time determining for ourselves the best path forward.
That’s why I say it may be selfish of me because that’s precisely what I’m going to do. Once this essay is published, I’m not going to put any more energy into the presidential election (besides occasional comedy bits on my podcast). Again, that’s just me. Come November, if there is an election, I’ll make up my mind and vote.
Until then, no one need bother me about rallying behind Biden, using my media to support him or denounce Trump, etc. I just don’t think it matters all that much. Please feel free to disagree with me; I’m most likely wrong!
Again, though, because I live in Japan, I don’t see many of the on-the-ground realities caused by Trump so that distance both allows me some intellectual freedom to explore these topics but also maybe a bit too much emotional distance to clearly understand why it is is so important to get rid of Trump.
Anyway, I think this essay has made the points I want to make. I’ll close just by saying I wish every single person well, especially those of you who took the time to read this long post! Good on ya!
I hope I was clear in my presentation and I welcome any feedback.
P.S.: 2020 Is a GREAT Opportunity for Humanity
P.S. Perhaps this post had too much doom and gloom. Yes, this year is a great chance to move past this idea that we need these leaders or national governments.
We, that is every single one of us, have so much power, so much ability to shape our lives and the lives of the people around us.
So that’s how I am changing my focus. Toward what I can do, toward what WE can do.
Let the folks in Washington, D.C. play their games; it all seems like sports to me anyway and I pretty much stopped watching sports in the past year (and folks, I was a lifelong sports fan and was a sportswriter in my 20s).
So, let’s go Team WE. Let’s see if we can start working both on our personal growth and our collective growth. We CAN be so much more.
Thanks for reading! You can support me simply by sharing my stuff, by linking to me on Twitter, by checking out my old blog, by listening to my new podcast, The B&P Realm Podcast, or by reading my 2015 novel, “The Teacher and the Tree Man.” You can also find that book in full here, or you can find it broken down into four shorter books (book 1, book 2, book 3 and book 4).