Who are we?

Late in his film “Sicko”, filmmaker Michael Moore asks a question about himself and his fellow Americans:

“Who are we?”

It is a question with many answers, and more and more, those answers are frightening. We are a nation that spends $12 billion monthly on a war that the vast majority consider a worthless, stupid exercise, yet one man can stubbornly keep the money, and blood flowing. And while spending that money to help create a fractured Iraq, members of the media can somehow connect healing people with terrorism, because it advances their ideology of killing rather than healing.

Who are we?

Just this week, more realizations of who we are came flooding in. Because nothing truly shows who you are, then seeing who you should be.

Brazil, a nation with more Roman Catholics than any other, took a powerful stance by including morning-after pills in its newly expanded birth control program. President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva also announced that the government will provide low-priced birth control pills at drug stores, in order to reduce the rate of unwanted pregnancies and illegal abortions. Brazil also hands out more than 250 million condoms annually.

Currently, abortion is only legal in Brazil in cases of rape or when the woman’s life is in danger. But in a nation where there are 1.4 million illegal abortions a year, the Health Minister is taking a stand and working to overturn the antiquated laws.

“If we consider that abortion is a crime, every day, 780 women would have to be arrested, without mentioning their doctors and eventually their companions,” said José Gomes Temporão. “I won’t accept that people say that abortion is not a public health problem.”

Brazil is a nation with a lot of problems. Horrifying poverty, crime, a government always in some stage of proving itself corrupt, etc. But there is one other thing Brazil has proven itself to be: Progressive. They see the truth, and they are fighting long-standing biases to act on it.

Who are we?

We are a nation that sees the truth, and tries to bury it whenever it conflicts with ideology or theology. We are a nation that has given our heart to God, and concluded that because of that, we no longer need a soul.

Because while abortion is legal in the United States, the State itself bombards its citizens with falsehoods about it. From 4parents.gov from the Department of Health and Human Services:

Some teen pregnancies end in abortion. Abortions can have complications. There may be emotional consequences, as well: some women say that they feel sad and some use more alcohol or drugs than before.

And while the State is lying about abortion, they have the courage to look its citizens in the eye – and with one hand firmly clutching the Surgeon General’s neck – tell them that not having sex is the only option of birth control that is of value.

“There was already a policy in place that didn’t want to hear the science, but wanted to — quote, unquote — ‘preach abstinence,’ which I felt was scientifically incorrect,” said former Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona.

With Faith-Based Initiatives, the State has taken a torch to our right of having a separation of church and state, as those with their own agendas spin facts any way they deem fit – saving souls is what matters, for State and church now, and if that leads to death, then such is their God’s will.

Who are we? We’re a nation led by hypocritical oligarchs, drunkenly wielding power and information over the masses. We are a nation that would much rather be righteous that right. We are a nation, to the utter astonishment of others, that feels science is best used as a political tool.

More than anything, though, we are a nation that has allowed itself to be defined by the fringe. And if we want to be able to define ourselves in terms that don’t make us retch, then we need to start asking another question.

Who can we be?




Filed under 07_wolfrum

14 responses to “Who are we?

  1. I wish I had your optimism.

  2. Mamasquab

    Yes, yes, and yes to what you say. My only hope is that “we” aren’t all like that. But, as the expat in France points out in Sicko (if I’m remembering right), “we” are afraid of our government.

  3. We have to seriously examine our system of government for the answer.

    70% of americans, and HALF of Republicans want universal health care. It doesn’t get done.

    70% want us out of Iraq. It doesn’t get done.

    Making the tax code more progressive would have a high majority. It won’t get done.

    I blame the social issues. Republicans who hate the gay and the abortion but are for universal health care, out of Iraq, economic justice hate more than they want a shift on these issues.

    Until we can convince these people to put the fag bashing on hold for a few election cycles and only vote pocketbook issues, we are going to be stuck in this morass.

  4. We are a nation that has given our heart to God

    The problem isn’t that we’ve given our heart to God; it’s that we’ve given our brain to God.

    And she keeps saying, “Doodz, I wouldn’t have fucking given them to you if I didn’t want you to use them! Take. Them. Back.”

    But we’ve given our ears to God, too, so we can’t hear her.

  5. blusilva

    I saw “Sicko” last night and when he asked that question, the first thing that came to my mind was “Come ON Mike, you KNOW we’re a nation that allows people’s grandmas to drown in the streets of New Orleans.”

    It makes my stomach turn that such a thought could even cross my mind, could even be an OPTION for crossing my mind.

  6. I don’t think its fair to judge all Americans by the actions of the far right. The American people seem to be slowly moving in a more liberal direction anyway. If we had a hundred percent turnout for elections, the nation’s policies would shift leftward overnight.

  7. We can be better than all those things you listed.

    We just have to choose to be that way.

  8. “we need to start asking another question.

    Who can we be?”

    Yes, indeed.

    Brilliant post.

  9. The_Quilter

    Hi There!

    Maybe part of the problem is that Americans don’t want these things badly enough. Neither party will commit to universal medicare. Neither party will commit to ending the Iraqi and Afghani war. Both parties have a commitment to corporate America to do its bidding and be at its beck and call. If Americans are not going to hold their politians responsible for these decisions, how can things ever change?

    Take Care

  10. I think a huge part of the problem is that it’s the people who are insulated from these things who are making the decisions. Our “representatives” are wealthy, privileged people who are beholden to large corporations. They have no personal stake in improving things for the ordinary or impoverished citizen, and a lot of financial and political incentives to reward the already rich and powerful at the expense of ordinary Americans. Until our political system changes, we are dependent on our politicians having the personal morals and principles to do the right thing despite all this.

    We’ve seen how well that works.

  11. Pingback: William K. Wolfrum » Blog Archive » Who are we?

  12. Coopster

    Who can we be?

    That’s exactly the right question, as it defines a progressive – one who looks to what we can and should work towards. Who can we be? A better people.

    Unfortunately, the question politicians are asking is not “Who can we be?”, but “How can I profit?”.

  13. heathra

    It would be great if we could elect people who actually represent the middle class, meaning that they are *part* of the middle class or at least have some awareness of what it’s like to be a bit short on rent money or a myriad of other issues working people face. Where did we get the mandate to elect rich people? Maybe the money/elections link is at the core of this problem. Which, as I recall, a few people have tried to work on, but obviously nothing’s substantially changed yet.

  14. God has nothing to do with prohibiting abortion, and certainly Jesus suggested that those without sin ought to cast the first stone.

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