I wasn't planning to write on this topic today, but after the interesting responses to my critique of Miley "Hannah Montana" Cyrus, I feel a need to further examine why I believe she represents an America in serious decline. I'd even go so far as to use the word "decay." Now, some might say that it's unfair to put on her tiny shoulders all that is wrong with America, but she is just the latest example of a point I want to make about our capitalistic / materialistic society that pretends to be "the most religious country on earth" because we have more church goers than in any other country. But who cares if you are good one day a week and attend church if in your worklife, you exhibit the psychopathological traits of a greedy, numbers-obsessed, materialistic jerk who will step on anyone in the way of your climb to the top?
There is a reason why I don't write much on popular culture in my blog. When I started the blog, I wasn't sure how I envisioned it, but it didn't take long for a pattern to emerge. Basically, I'm an advocate for a new culture to form in our society. Pop culture is junk culture. There's a reason why Mozart's music is timeless, while Miley Cyrus will be forgotten in history. The classic culture of Europe gave us Rembrandt and Shakespeare, while America has Rihanna and Tupac Shakur. One culture brings out the intellect and inspires people while the other degrades the mind and only makes people desire the quick and easy wealth for themselves. Our chosen path is not sustainable.
We are Marie Antoinette on the eve of Revolution. She ate pastries and lived lavishly in a gigantic palace while the poor were rioting over bread. And here we are, over-bloated and subjected to fluff news while people are RIOTING in Haiti, Africa, and Southeast Asia over food prices! We're on the cusp of a worldwide epidemic of violence. Even the Pentagon has done a study in which they found that wars of the future will be over dwindling supplies of water, which will make our current oil wars seem like civilized U.N. disputes by comparison. Water is a necessity to life, thus if people are going to fight for it, these fights will be vicious. All our claims of being civilized will be tossed out the window as people revert to pure animalistic survival of the fittest. It will get ugly.
Thus it's imperative that we Americans trash our junk culture and find some depth. It's embarrassing to continue to have a country that finds celebrity "controversy" newsworthy while the vast majority of Americans remain woefully ignorant about our world and the 95% of the planet's population who inhabit it. If I were the head news honcho, I would require all newscasts to start with several numbers: How many days we've been in Iraq; how much the war has cost the American people (both as a total and then broken down per family's share of the cost); how many Americans have died, and how many Iraqis have died. These numbers need to be thrown in American faces every single day until people wake up and realize that we really are in Iraq and the reason why they're paying more at the pump for gasoline, or why their food bill has gone up, why their paychecks afford less and less...is because too much of our economy is tied into debts owed to Chinese, Japanese, and Saudi banks. Paying for the war on credit card is the smartest idea since Napoleon decided to attack at Waterloo.
It is my hope to see a deeper America emerge at some point. An America that only awards fame to people who've earned it by their contribution to humanity (such as the Oregon middle school science teacher who was named "Teacher of the Year" this week: Michael Geisen), not because they look a certain way, have a famous parent, or have made a fortune in the entertainment industry. An America that continually challenges its citizens to push their intellect by learning about difficult or complex topics. An America that does not dumb down education to the lowest common denominator so idiots don't feel so stupid. An America that doesn't pretend to be religious to placate the evangelists and fundamentalists while continually promoting the false values of capitalism. An America where a political debate is more like the Parliamentary debates that exist in the U.K. rather than the shallow, high school student council elections it currently resembles. An America where telling the truth is valued and rewarded while liars and those who made wrong projections about the economy, war, and other facts are marginalized.
Until we have an America that inspires its citizens to continue to challenge themselves to be better people, to develop a deeper mindset about issues, and to value the difference between the essential eternal values over the fleeting false values, our country will continue to decline while Europe and China surpass us with their focus on better and better education standards.
Let's face it, pop culture is the equivalent of porn. It degrades your mind until all you're left with is mush. Learning about new ideas and challenging ideas electrifies your brain cells and if you think of your mind as a muscle, you have to use it to increase it's power. Pop culture doesn't have that effect. All it does is make people shallow and incapable of independent thought. Lord knows, we have way too many citizens who fall in this category. In my America, the likes of Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, Miley Cyrus, the Olsen twins, the Bush twins, and even Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham would all be sent to Iraq for a year to find their souls. They won't find it by continuing to live in a society that encourages their shallow exploits with salivating adoration.
Here's an example Americans should learn and learn well: in Plato's Republic, he wrote about the "allegory of the cave" in which people are chained in a cave, growing up by seeing reflections/shadows on the wall. They believe that is reality. When one of them breaks free and escapes from the cave to see the real world, he returns to tell those still chained in the cave. What happens? Those chained to the cave think he's crazy and kill him, because he's obviously deluded. Is that prophetic or what?
The reality we see in our country is not REALITY. America doesn't have to be this way. Another way is possible. We can continue our path as represented by Miley Cyrus and her ilk (pretending to Christian values while materialistic greed leads her to make sexually provocative photos to gain a new "respectability" in our capitalistic society that has no spiritual values) or we can pursue the path represented by Angelina Jolie, who uses her wealth and fame to shine a spotlight on the plight of the people around the world. But the best example for me is the path represented by Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi...a truly authentic spiritual woman who gave up an easy life of comfort in the U.K. to suffer among the poorest and oppressed people of her native land.
So, that's why I'm not in favour of posting more on our popular culture. I want to encourage Americans to trash the junk and go deep to where the core of your soul resides. People around the world want us to become better people, to help transform our world from the greed and ignorance of capitalism towards a new ethical, spiritual, and moral value system not found in any "-ism" ideology.