A Lament for an America that I Believed In


I sit here looking out my window and wondering what happened to the America that I grew up believing in.  A nation that was founded on the values of truth, justice, and equality.  The land of the free and the home of the brave.  A country dedicated to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Today, I look out the window and see a country that bears no resemblance to the place where I thought I lived.

I look out and see rich politicians marching through the streets asking for more and more money to support their never-ending campaigns.  One election is no sooner over, then another one begins.  I give money to one candidate, and I immediately get phone calls, emails, and texts asking me to support fifty more candidates.  I am not worth ten percent of what most of these people want but they act as though I along with other Americans are bottom less pits of money.

abcnl_ahmaudarbery_1635976650478_hpMain_16x9_992I look out and see lawyers with Magna and Summa Cum Laude degrees from Yale, Harvard, Cornell, Brown, and other Ivy League Universities who can fashion legal arguments designed to circumvent and pervert any sane person’s idea of justice.  They have corrupted our Criminal Justice System into a Criminal Injustice System.  The winner in a court room is the one with the most money who can hire the best and brightest lawyers.  An argument by one defense attorney claims that a self-styled vigilante shooting three unarmed people is a tragic case of self-defense.  Another defense lawyer for three murdering racists suggests that the victim in the case was shot because he had come to Satilla Shores “in his khaki shorts with no socks to cover his long, dirty toenails.”

st,small,845x845-pad,1000x1000,f8f8f8.u13I look out and see corporate executives who will ignore the danger posed to the environment and climate because they can make more money today than by creating a sustainable system.  I see too many people willing to “shop till they drop.”  A materialistic mentality that supports the greed endemic in Corporate America.  A focus on short-term thinking that drains the earth of the resources it needs for sustainability in order to reap mega-profits today.  The “hell with the future” is the motto of Corporate America.

I look out my window and see a country wherein 74 million people supported a man almost totally devoid of ethics, morality, character, or conscience.  People who knew that this man was defective but instead voted for him either because they were racists, sexists, greedy or selfish.  A country where too many people discriminate against others who are different in race, religion, or gender identification.  People who will vote for someone because he takes vengeance against groups they regard as enemies.  People who will vote for a bully who is a coward and a draft dodger.  People motivated to support the candidate that will promise them lower taxes.  People who demand their rights but ignore their responsibilities.

I look out and see people that claim to be Christians but who call for their political opponents to be killed or assassinated.  People claiming that ethics and character do not matter as long as a leader will support their particular religious beliefs.  People who believe that Jesus came to preach vengeance and retribution rather than love and charity for all.

I look out a window where my views of America and the world are becoming more and more appalling.  Each day brings another senseless mass killing.  Tomorrow brings an even more bizarre crime into my consciousness.  I process some of these visions with friends mainly to check to see if I am going crazy or if my mind is becoming warped.

1623107527880_nn_mal_ca_road_rage_shooting_arrest_210607_1920x1080Is there any meaning to what I am seeing?  Am I just getting too old?  Is my brain incapable of understanding things anymore?  Journalists are murdered because they report the truth.  Innocent people are slaughtered while they watch a Christmas parade.  A pregnant woman is shot eleven times on her doorstep.  Fifty or more people rob a series of stores in what the news calls “mass grab fests.”  A six-year-old child is killed in a car seat by some maniac with road rage.  There is no bottom to the bizarre.  No one can imagine what the next day will bring.  All attempts to discover what is causing these problems or how they can be stopped seem futile.  They are meaningless crimes without rhyme or reason in a world that George Orwell would never have imagined possible.  Up is down, right is wrong, facts and truth do not exist, everything is fake.  There is no sanity.


A friend of mine once told me that you catch more flies with sugar than vinegar.  An old maxim to be sure.  He wanted to advise me that if I expected to get readers, I needed to write positive helpful pieces.  Ideas that would help make people’s lives better.  Ideas that were useful and people could do things about.  I have no disagreement with that bit of wisdom.

CG-Mtn-Trail-SMLThis morning while doing a 4-mile run in the Casa Grande Mountains, I thought a lot about his advice.  I realize that much of what I have said above could be considered a rant.  I would like to think it was somewhat of a catharsis.  Another friend told me yesterday that I sounded like a man in despair.  I resonated with the word despair.  I regard optimism as ideologically unsound given our present world.  Many people have advised me to stay hopeful.  There is a fine line between hopeful and optimism.  I am not sure I can manage the divide.  Despair on the other hand fits my mood just fine.  Despair is defined as: “The complete loss or absence of hope.”

What does my mood do to my readers?  Well, I can always say “Don’t read my stuff, if you don’t like it.”  I don’t get paid to write.  I don’t sell you anything.  I don’t even put commercials up on my site.  On another level, I write for myself and no one else.  I mentioned the word cathartic before.  Writing is one way, I feel alive.  I gain some hope from sharing my ideas with others if only one person writes back and says “Yes, I agree with you.”

Hope springs eternal, right?  But we need some foundation for hope.  Can hope be built on fantasies, unrealistic ideals, and wishful dreams?  How does reality impact our chances for hope?  Can hope exist when reality denies any possibility of hope?  I am not sure I know the answers to these questions.  I think I might have to go on a quest for hope.  In the meantime, I will go back to my window and tell you what else I see as I look out at the world.


I look out and see a nation which was built on the assumption that checks and balances would protect a new democracy.  The legislature, courts, and executive branches would each provide a check and balance against the unbridled assumption of power by any one sector.  The basis for this assumption was the belief that each branch would have the best interests of the nation at heart and not partisan interests.  This of course was never 100 percent true but never has there been the divide and partisanship that exists in the USA today.

download (1)We have elected people that will support an insurrection against free and fair elections.  The most important element of Democracy.  People that prefer to ignore that on January 6th, we almost had a coup against democracy in America.  On November 17th, we had these same people vote to ignore the censuring of one of their comrades who parodied the killing of an opposition opponent.

The foundations and pillars of Democracy in America are rotten.  Jefferson believed that democracy could not survive without an educated informed citizenry.  Information would come from a free and impartial media while education would come from a system of free and impartial public schools.  The media today are nothing but paid shills for corporations who spend vast amounts of money on advertising designed to get people to stay in debt buying stuff that they don’t need.

81XUsTIXJxLI look out my window and see a public school system that is being dismantled by racists, bigots, elitists, and sexists who do not want the schools to actually teach anything that might be construed as controversial.  Two thousand five hundred years ago, Socrates was executed for trying to teach the children of the Athenian elite to think for themselves.  Schools and educators are still being attacked for trying to teach children to think.  How can our future generations create a better world when they are besieged with information that keeps them in a past that never existed and feeds them myths about the way the world works?

I look out and see people who are more worried about the shortage in Christmas trees and the price of gasoline for their vehicles than about getting a virus shot or the problems of global warming or environmental pollution.  Citizens who sacrifice at the altar of lower taxes while complaining about the rising inflation.  An inflation they blame on a President while they ignore their own cupidity and its relationship to the law of supply and demand.

The End?

Many so-called Christians say the end is near.  Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead.  I don’t believe that anyone is coming to judge anyone else.  I don’t believe that our planet is near its end.  I don’t believe that there will be any kind of a global conflagration.  I do believe that the end of the American Experiment is very near.  We should have a clock for democracy like the doomsday clock.  The doomsday clock is supposed to tell us how close we are to destroying our world with dangerous technologies of our own making.  The present time of the doomsday clock is 100 seconds to midnight.  We need a “democracy clock” that would tell us how close we are to losing democracy in the USA.  I would say that we are at one minute to midnight.

74 Million Americans voted for a man who does not believe in democracy.  A man who does not believe in our military, our schools, our courts, our media, or our system of elections.  It would be foolish to think that these 74 million voters believe in any of these systems either.  Thus we have nearly 31% of our electorate who either do not understand democracy or would prefer an oligopoly.  We have 34.2 percent who did not bother to vote.  The remainder or 34.8% voted either Democratic or other party.

51FOE8gFffL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Will the USA survive?  All great empires have eventually declined.  It took 300 years for the Roman Empire to fall after it began its decline.  We are witnessing the decline of the American Empire.  How long will it take to fall is well beyond my ability to foresee.  If history is any indication, it will take many years and the decline will be gradual but punctuated by episodes of tragedy and elation.  The tragedies will far outnumber the elations.  Study any system in decline and you can see the gradual disintegration that accompanies all declines.  It is already clear that our Public Education, Political Systems and Legal Systems are in decline.  Trying to stop the declines is futile.  You cannot stop the decline of an old bridge or an old building.  You must rebuild from the ground up.  Sadly, I see neither the drive nor the desire to do the work that needs to be done to help restore democracy in America.

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Behind the Curtain:  The Corporate Plot to Upend Democracy

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16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Wayne Woodman
    Nov 23, 2021 @ 15:29:05

    Thank you John for this very well written piece. Maybe I think it is well written because I agree with your conclusions!
    For several years I have been comparing the USA to Rome and the decline with which a lot of us are familiar. As a Canadian I sometimes get a little upset with my country folk when they get all mightier than thou in comparison. All we have to do is look around and Canada is in the same state of decline but maybe a few years behind which is normal for us!
    We have the same inflated egos for politicians, rampant greed, overconsumption, bigger and more is better ethos, lack of empathy, etc, etc. I believe both our countries were built through brutality, slavery, genocide and total lack of concern for the natural world which is now coming home to roost.
    I have some of my family who are devout “Christians” but still cannot see the truths in front of us. I do not believe in a divine god who would actually sit back and watch humans degrade and massacre other humans. Then they want to compare that same god to a father figure but can’t give a sensible answer when I ask how they would respond if they actually witnessed one of their children degrading another child!
    I believe Humanity is on a downward spiral and the next few generations will not be a fun time to be alive. I do believe the planet will survive albeit with a few major changes like has happened before.
    Like you I do despair for the life my grandkids will inherit and try to help in any small way I can on a daily basis.



    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Nov 24, 2021 @ 10:19:58

      Thanks Wayne. My optimist wife read my blog and said she could not disagree. I listed organizations that I want to be more active in. I refuse to go gently into the night. I keep thinking of the refrains from the song “The Impossible Dream.” This is my quest
      To follow that star
      Ooh, no matter how hopeless
      No matter how far
      To fight for the right
      Without question or pause
      To be willing to march, march into hell
      For that heavenly cause



  2. Trackback: A Lament for an America that I Believed In — Aging Capriciously – Musings and Wonderings
  3. Jane Fritz
    Nov 23, 2021 @ 15:38:18

    How can you not rant, John. Watching the self-destruction of a country with everything going for it, all in the name of self-interest and individual freedom over any sense of a collective good or shared responsibility for the world, beggars belief even as we watch it relentlessly unfold. Heartbreaking, unnecessary, self-inflicted. I hear the anguish in your eloquent lament. 😥



  4. Anne Healy
    Nov 23, 2021 @ 15:57:55

    Absolutely so true! Horrifying!!!! I do not live in America, but it is exactly the same here in Australia. I do not know how to fix it. I despair at the idiocy of the human race. How could we get it so wrong? Greed reigns supreme and truth telling no longer matters. What will it take to fix this? I fear it is too late. We have gone too far in the other direction. I agree with your summary in total. God help us!!!!



    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Nov 24, 2021 @ 10:13:28

      I hope there is a god who cares and will right the imbalances that seem to exist. Thank you for your comments. John



  5. nancykkkkk
    Nov 23, 2021 @ 21:39:43

    Wow. Lots to contemplate. Yes, all you say is true and yes, I too despair. But then I see the small acts of kindness that strangers do for each other. The only antidote to the division, racism, sexism, injustice to stay active and hopeful. We must model the behavior we hope to see. We must be the change we want to see. We must continue to love our country and our fellow citizens no matter how badly they behave. It’s a conundrum, I know, but it’s the only way I can continue.



  6. Soco
    Nov 24, 2021 @ 15:42:26

    Sadly, I see neither the drive nor the desire to do the work that needs to be done to help restore democracy in America.

    —John Persico in Lament, Aging Capriciously

    I enjoyed the exposé of the country we live in. Your despair moved into hope with the links to organizations that are working to change the status quo.

    After you found an organization, donated to them without their soliciting, and wrote an accompanying desire to volunteer, what was their response? Even the do gooders are lacking manners of acknowledgment and acceptance. I’ll despair with you.



    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Nov 24, 2021 @ 17:52:53

      I have donated to two of them. I also signed up to volunteer for a few of these organizations. I received messages thanking me and informing me that I would be contacted, but to date have not been contacted by any.



  7. Peter Kwong
    Nov 26, 2021 @ 12:03:35

    John: Glad to be home. Love your column. peter

    On Tue, Nov 23, 2021 at 2:31 PM Aging Capriciously wrote:

    > Dr. John Persico Jr. posted: “I sit here looking out my window and > wondering what happened to the America that I grew up believing in. A > nation that was founded on the values of truth, justice, and equality. The > land of the free and the home of the brave. A country dedicated to lif” >



    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Nov 27, 2021 @ 14:56:52

      Thanks Peter, Hope you are doing well. We are down in Arizona now. I miss the group of writers including yourself. You are all a great inspiration to me. Hope you have a happy holiday season. John



  8. barryh
    Nov 30, 2021 @ 05:49:52

    Thank you, John. That is a great post. We watch America with horror from over here in England. I remember when America was a beacon of hope for the world; it’s not now. Yet we can see the same sort of trends here with our Conservative Party aping some of the worst American right wing trends. But I would never despair. Life has a way of balancing things out – polarities tend not to get too extreme.

    Certainly the challenges of climate change will force radical change to the status quo in any case. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.



    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Nov 30, 2021 @ 09:05:31

      Thanks Barry for taking the time to share your experience on the “other side of the pond.” It is always interesting to see what it going on in the rest of the world. I can only trust that “hope” will bring us some better times. John.



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