America VS Americana: who do you think is winning?

Today's question is: why should U.S. citizens' perception of our country be more important than our actual country?

Unfortunately, I now believe this is true, despite the fact that, rationally, such a disconnect is irreconcilable?


Well, did you watch the Sunday morning "news" programs today: Face the Nation (CBS), Meet the Press (NBC) and This Week (ABC)? Because if you did, then it seems quite clear that our media believes that the most important CRISIS facing the United States today is: Do professional baseball players use steroids to enhance their performance?!

My answers: 1.) WHO CARES!? 2.) OF COURSE THEY DO!

My thesis: Sports, especially professional sports are so tainted by "winning" that this very question is mute, absurd and ridiculous. Pro sports teams are corporations. Corporations, by their very nature, have one objective: sheer profit.

So asking if athletes, especially professional athletes, as arguably the most visible and respected corporate employees in the United States, use performance enhancing substances is akin to asking if corporate officers export jobs to foreign nations to maximize beneficial labor/wage arbitrage. I mean, there is no question. There is no doubt. There is only reality. End of discussion.

OK. So now that I've dismissed the very question as absurd and irrelevant, let's explore its larger and perhaps more important implications. Specifically: America's obsession with popular digressions like baseball, values, television, et al is, IMO, simply an indicator, a road-sign if you will, on the trail of our now colossal, all-time-high, personal and collective unhappiness and powerlessness as human individuals in an ever complex, but eroding, society.

In other words, rather than fix our collective budgets, feed the starving, mend the sick, pursue higher truth, walk the dog, etc... we seem instead wont to engage in pursuits more akin to masturbation than to any other term I can find to describe them. For example, this whole "Is baseball tainted?" crisis is not as much about Baseball in America as it is about Baseball in AMERICANA.

In other words, Welcome to Americana, the land of masturbatory nostalgia. Where, because our founding fathers drafted beautiful documents espousing terms like Inalienable Rights and Liberty and Justice for All (OK and because our nation almost single-handedly defeated communism and Hitler), we now seem fixated by a Disney-like perception of ourselves -- as holier, righter, truer, smarter, and dog-gonnit, more likeable, than any other homo sapiens in the history of mankind.

Well, dog-gonnit, it's just not true! And worse (and I'm using metaphor here, OK...), it's masturbation. By that I mean it's an activity that subverts and obscures reality, that keeps you from getting up out of bed on Sunday morning to clean the bathroom.

So my message for today is: Let's clean the bathroom! Or for heaven's sake, let's at least try. Because staying in bed, eating junk food, wistful for an America that never existed in the first place, isn't feeding, educating, or liberating anyone, least of all ourselves.

In short, if America IS good, then America must ACT good -- all the time, no matter what, to the best of its ability.

And a bunch of Congressmen, freshly suntanned and released from a corporate-sponsored junket to Europe or the Carribean, asking hardball questions to current or former professional athletes participating in sports that do nothing more than divert, entertain, or worse, reinforce the sick concept that winning isn't everything -- it's the ONLY thing -- is NOT good.

Perception is NOT reality.
It's just easier to improve.

Todd Ryder
Sunday, March 20, First Day of Spring, 2005