My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Dichotomy of the US

America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between -- Oscar Wilde

We as a nation have always lived with an identity crisis. Now that is not to say that we don't know who we are, but as individuals we are proud of our diversity and that leads to times where as a nation we are extremely polarized.

I offer a simple analogy in the form of two large companies trying to sort out the current range of American thinking: Subway Restaurants and Toyota Motor Corporation American Division.

Subway currently offers an entire Fresh Fit menu with calories listed in full view and healthy alternatives of apples and milk to the normal unhealthy choices. The marketing campaign for this wholesome menu is promoted by a man who lost 245 pounds eating nothing but Subway sandwiches. This is in stark contrast with their other running menu option of a new Subway Feast which promotes a sandwich with 1,400 calories that is "as big as your head".

Toyota is doing about the same thing. Along with announcing a new Prius that will not only offer the best fuel consumption on the market, but will also have an option to allow for a home hook-up for little to no fuel consumption at all, Toyota also has a 7,000 lbs., 12 MPG, Land Cruiser. So why advertising that they are the environmentally green car company, they continue to sell one of the worst environmental cars offered in the American car market.

So why do these two examples, which so openly strive to promote themselves as one thing, also cater so heavily to the antithesis?

I believe that the answer lies not in our current diametrically opposed methods of thought, but in the lack of vocal majority within the center. We have been co-opted into a belief that there are only two sides to every stance, that there are right and wrongs, and that our choices are those of other peoples labels.

These false choices have historically been reduced to rubble by artists, poets, great thinkers, and a populous that believed in education and free thinking. Unfortunately, the outlet for such things now exists in a medium that sells ad time. Every original thought is bought and sold like a commodity, cheapening its originality and lessening its affect on the public. New ideas are either squashed for their lack of marketability or embraced, repackaged, sold, and forgotten.

This process of commoditizing dissension leaves the moderate and undecided without a real voice while we all wonder whether or not we're in the mood to submit to gluttony or give preemptive penance for our wish to submit to our greed.

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