American Culture Revisited-Gun Violence, Corporate Greed, and Religion
When I lived abroad the US was a beacon for me of a place where things functioned, freedoms were possible, and the standard of living was high. After several years back I’ve categorized the culture into three areas.
First is gun violence. Gun violence is so common as to be ignored. Every day in Buffalo, a medium sized city, there are at least one or two shootings. While I was working at a West side community center, two shootings took place. On another occasion, I was caught in a lockdown in administration building when I went to sign for my pay. In the 20 years I lived in Barcelona, I only remember one incident of a shooting that took place in a nearby plaza. In any case, gun violence was not at all commonplace and for the most part, I felt very safe living in a large European city.
And, why should anyone here own an assault weapon? To blow a deer to bits or shoot up a school? I’d take it even further, why weapons at all? Weapons are the last male realm of control, a very symbol of maleness. And there is the huge weapons industry propagating this ok corral mentality.
Next is corporate greed. Enron, cruel mortgage practices, the medical industry, the list goes on and on. What are CEO salaries and bonuses like? We know minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Contrast that with Australia’s $15.96 hourly wage and low unemployment rate. The choice here has been to maintain a huge underclass dependent on government assistance for survival. This system penalizes- why take a job at minimum wage with no health benefits while public assistance at least provides health care for the family?
This leads me to health care and my limited experience with it here. The only decent attention I’ve received was at a urgent care facility. That is the only place I’ll return to if, unfortunately, the need arises. For that I pay a high rate monthly. I do have a primary care doctor (almost impossible to find one accepting new patients). The office was a dirty space, poorly organized and terribly inefficient.
Freedom of religion leads to the same issues France has been facing. At what point are the tenets of a modern society eroded by the fundamentalism of its citizens? My own beliefs are constantly challenged in my work with immigrants. We bend to accommodate but lines must be drawn. Wives beaten, marriages arranged or overruled by male family members, keepers, and so many abuses against women are part and parcel of many religions.
So I struggle on, looking for the positive and fighting the good fight.