Raffi on American Experiment

Raffi, troubadour, entrepreneur, and founder of the Child Honoring initiative.

As you note, the dilemma you’re describing is not a partisan issue; Clinton’s embrace of NAFTA, near criminalization of poverty, WTO attest to that; the Democrats contributed to the circumvention of democracy via int’l trade agreements. I wonder if the non partisan (systemic) aspect of this needs more emphasis, i.e., this is a systemic problem needing systemic solution.

Michael Moore makes the point in his recent book that if you look at the polls re what Americans care about on the major issues, the US looks like a solidly liberal culture… it’s the GAP between what people care about and what their government will or won’t allow that’s bizarre.

While I appreciate the “questions, not answers” approach you take in your closing, what I fear is that we don’t have the time it takes for a multiplicity of possibility stories coalescing into a clear story compelling enough to defeat the neo-royalists. It strikes me that if you get 100 compelling storylines from 100 noted and ‘ordinary’ Americans, they’ll probably all contain something that sounds like a coming of age theme, a maturing of American identity in the global village. So I wonder if at the end you might suggest an overall theme that these stories would likely share or express…

Within a psychological maturation context: consider that America’s birth was a liberation FROM tyranny… a reactive flight away… It seems to me, mature liberty is a freedom TO something, not a reactive liberty but a conscious and creative volition towards something: i. e, not just what am I free from, but what am I (an individual) free to do? And what are WE free to be and do as a society? Are we free to care for every hungry child in our society? If not, what constrains us from such caring and providing? What is the current tyranny? What constrains us from being free to love—ourselves, others, to see our neighbors as we do ourselves? Our fellow cultures as ourselves?

The new storyline might be around the theme of a new emancipation from old and current tyrannies, or to put it another way, a rebirthing story: a renaissance, or rebirth of human identity: the Earth (charter) citizen who understands that, in an interdependent world, national security depends largely on the security of all nations; and,  that it lies in the basics of food and water security as much as anything else—not just for some nations, but for all.

In a crowded planet… transcendence, as Vaclav Havel wrote in the 1990s, is an indispensable value… a transcendent self-interest would be the mature American value, also the mature value of Czechs, Canadians, Germans, Pakistanis, and all others… a central ethic of “the possible human” that healer Jean Houston wrote about in the mid-80s… the maturing girl and boy of every culture that can turn this world around.

The new American experiment is in many respects a new Global experiment, the greatest and most important paradigm shift our species has faced: from Machiavelli to Interdependence, or Earth Charter, to put it one way.

Posted January 4, 2004