• Sona Chaturvedi

Why The World Pities Us

Photo credit: YouTube.

Is it over for America?

It’s mind boggling when we reflect on all the damage this president has caused in just four yearsOther countries are in disbelief at our mishandling of the coronavirus crisis, our inability to govern ourselves and the speed with which our democracy and society seem to be collapsing.

That’s what the world thinks. But for those of us who have been paying attention, we have always known our reputation has not lived up to its billing. There was never a time in history when we weren’t a façade in some way.

We have had our “moments.” Some jaw-dropping courageous moments. The support we showed around the world, our willingness to help, our innovations, our advances in science and medicine, the creation of the world’s strongest middle class. We were thinkers. We elected leaders with a vision toward the future.

But if we are to be honest with ourselves, much of the past was a lie for many.

Citizens of color, Native Americans, the poor -- regardless of color -- and women are treated like second-class citizens. We remain a country in which a few white men still hold most of the power, despite rapidly shifting demographics. Some of those men throughout history cared, and they are rightly revered. Our most recent “moment” was the election of a Black president. We patted ourselves on the back for electing a man who had to be perfect. He could have no flaws, and even that wasn't good enough for a large percentage of the country. We have yet to have a woman hold that office, which is laughable to most countries that have had female prime ministers and presidents for decades. Have our “moments” become of thing of the past? We are at a crossroads. What we do right now matters, and it will decide our fate as a nation. Are we ready for that challenge, or are we too divided in terms of class, intellect and courage?

At first, after the election in 2016, the world snickered. How could we elect this failed reality-show host with no experience, a clown-like figure that has bankrupted every business he has ever owned?

But they aren’t laughing now. They are witnessing a humanitarian crisis unlike anything Americans have ever known. But they have. Others around the globe have seen worse. They just never thought they would see it here.

“It really does feel like the U.S. has given up,” said Siouxsie Wiles, an infectious-diseases specialist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

Will we be saved from becoming the failed state that Vladimir Putin wants us to be, with no power and no standing left in the world? No one, not even Putin, envisioned how fragile we really were.

The world used to see us as a country that would never quit advancing. That would always self-correct and move forward.

And then it came to a screeching halt. The halt was screeching, but the journey there was long. Our inability to deal with a racial divide, poverty and the deliberate destruction of the middle class has all worked against us. None of this happened by accident. It all came by design to benefit a few and keep them in power.

So, the world watches what comes next. What will our government do? The biggest question facing us is who are we?  

As far as the international community goes, it can move on without us. For the most part, they already have.

They don’t despise us. Most wish us success and a return to greatness. But their lives don’t depend our survival. Ours do.

What do we do when the stakes are this high? What will you be able to say you did when your country needed you? It’s past time to have the uncomfortable conversation about what it means to be American. We can’t return to normal, because that normal only worked for a few. There is only one choice through voting, organizing and never again being complacent in our democracy. America needs all of us to care, to participate, or we will become a faint memory, a blip in the history of time. It’s up to us.