This is not the country I had hoped to be living in as we move into the second decade of the 21st century. Growing up in the 1950s and ‘60s, I believed that social and economic equality, and some degree of political fairness, would become the standards for a more enlightened society. During those formative decades, some of us actually believed that the United States would become a country that could be a model for the rest of the world.
We do have a country that is a model, but it is a model that should not be emulated. That is why I often think that I no longer feel that I want to be an American, that I should find somewhere else to live.
There are many places in the world where the principles that I hope for in a society are more entrenched. Yet, there are no perfect places and it is difficult to give up your home because of principles. In the end friends, neighbors and community do matter the most and that means that I will probably just continue to complain about the kind of country we have become while trying to make it a better place on the most local of levels.
Why have we become a country where the highest level politicians no longer make efforts to compromise while constantly fighting prolonged, bitter battles with each other over every issue that comes before them?
Why do the needs of average Americans have little influence over the major decisions that are made in Washington?
Why do Americans suffer and die while Washington politicians turn budget battles into an opportunity for political posturing?
Why do we feel we have to be the policemen for the world at the expense of our country's infrastructure and social fabric?
Why are we a country where the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen, while those at the top become richer and those at the middle and bottom become poorer?
Why are we a country that has the greatest concentration of wealth in the hands of the fewest number of people?
Why are we a country where racism is still prevalent?
Why are we a country where people continue to be discriminated against and persecuted because of their sexual orientation?
Why are we a country that has lost its ability to provide compassionate refuge for those who wish to become Americans?
Why are we a country where the social status of its citizens can be determined by looking into their mouth and assessing the level of their dental health?
Why are we the only country in the industrialized world that does not have universal access to health care?
Why are we a country that has the greatest concentration of medical technology and expertise while 15 percent of the population has no access to health care services?
Why do we continue to allow health insurance companies to dictate the rules for how care is delivered in this country?
Why are we the only country in the industrialized world that has a significant number of its citizens impoverished because of medical bills?
Why are we a country where 60 percent of people who file for bankruptcy do so because of medical bills?
Why are we the only country in the industrialized world where a person can lose their job and their health insurance because of a diagnosis of a serious illness?
Why are we a country that continues to use the standard of the free market in health care when it is only a means of concentrating wealth, having little to do with the provision of health care?
Why? Why? Why?
Richard Davis is a registered nurse and executive director of Vermont Citizens Campaign for Health. He writes from Guilford and welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.