Sometimes I feel like we are living in a reality show, catering to the fickle and unpredictable whims of the American public. There is an old saying, “May you live in interesting times!” Some say this was an ancient Chinese blessing, others that it was a curse. However you define the saying, we are certainly living in interesting times.
Despite the political polarization of the country that is tearing apart family, friends and colleagues, we are also seeing a resurgence of kindness, empathy and cooperation. You could read the message behind the saying as “you can learn more through going through tribulation than through tranquil times.”
There are those who claim that we are going through the “death spasms” of the American republic. In fact, many of the republics that have historically risen and fallen had much in common with the United States. They took the eagle as their standard, they adopted patrician values for their laws and government and experienced a rapid decline in the last years of their standing.
There is another way to look at this: As the baby in the womb experiences what it could perceive as a small death, it actually emerges alive, kicking and screaming into a new existence. Perhaps what we are experiencing are the birth pangs of a nation growing up and emerging into full adulthood.
Compared to most other cultures, the United States of America is a relatively young nation. We certainly act like adolescents at times, wanting immediate gratification, our national obsession with wants rather than needs and the continual conflict with perceived parental authority. Is it time for the United States to grow up?
What about those other republics that fell: the Roman republic, the Czech republic, and the German republic? They certainly went through “interesting,” even traumatic, times before they fell, but it was not the end. In Italy there were certainly Dark Ages when a process of restabilization was taking place, with the Dark Ages emerging into the beginning of the Italian Renaissance (rebirth) and the Age of Discovery. Out of these birth pangs emerged Christopher Columbus and his explorations of the New World.
Germany, too, after suffering incredible loss of life and finances during two World Wars and suffering through the Dark Ages of a divided political nation, finally emerged into political strength and prosperity. What was Czechoslovakia, too, is finally on the way to becoming two more stable nations.
There is a saying going around on Facebook that says, “The devil whispered in my ear, ‘You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.’ Today I whispered in the devil’s ear ‘I am the storm!’”
Rather than become paralyzed by our fears, we should be using our natural gifts (writing, art, music, poetry) to document this part of our nation’s path, becoming part of a new Renaissance, recording America’s evolution for future generations. Let’s become part of a new Renaissance rather than becoming paralyzed by our fears for the future. Become the future.
Angela Smith is a Ph.D. life coach, author and educator who has been resident in Nevada since 1992. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.