The  Mean-ing



Blogging a Book About "American" Society


Are you like me? I don’t want to be so cynical, but let’s be real. Look around. Television, newspapers, magazines, concerts, theaters, and all sorts of other places where we connect with one another are becoming meaner. Consider this. We gauge the success of our economic system by its growth. Yet our planet is finite. It’s the only one in the universe we know for certain supports human life. The human body is a closed system, too. Anything that grows on or in it continuously we call cancer. Humans have become the most toxic carcinogen on the planet! The Earth is dying from “cancer”!


Of course, there are good people in considerable numbers. There are plenty of selfish, disrespectful, arrogant, indifferent people, too. Certainly, corporations often care little for people. Consider when General Motors had an ignition problem that led to a couple of dozen deaths it took the company a decade to correct the problem and then only when there was no longer any other alternative! This type of corporate behavior has been going on for decades. Do you remember, Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile by Ralph Nader, published in 1965? And what about the endless caveats added by drug companies to their television and radio commercials warning about the sometimes deadly effects of their products while continuing to make huge – sometimes obscene – profits from them. By the way, have you bought an EpiPen® lately?


The media are no better. Television and film, for example, have the power to lift our culture to new heights. Instead, they focus on a much lower common denominator. Instead of more Avitar films, they give us The Kardashians, Sausage Party, and the Juicy Fruit Locker Room Guys, and hours of “news” about Congressman Weiner. Then, to top it off, our governments – Canada’s and the United States Government – sorely neglect our homeless vets and do little to curb the use of rapid-fire assault weapons.


Now, I’m just an ordinary guy. I’m no politician. I’m certainly not a mover and/or shaker! I do have a family I love: one wife, two children, and three grandchildren. I want the best for them. I try to provide wholesome experiences for them, give them sound advice, and encourage them to be the best they can be. In short, I’m not very different from you. However, we may part ways when it comes to how we view the dumbing down of our culture. I truly believe we are becoming mean countries, run by mean people, who want us to live mean lives and encourage others to do the same.


Frankly, I want more. I taught for more than four decades: all levels, primary grades through high school and university. I tried to be a good teacher. Sometimes I fell short. I hope I did much more good than harm. Now, I’m a counselor and an ordained minister. I’ve seen and experienced some of the best and worst of what people can do to each other. One thing I have seen that disturbs me considerably is the decline in what we accept as okay for our children to see and experience. We are becoming less involved with our kids and are allowing them to attend to areas of experience we are not so inclined to go ourselves.


Our kids now spend more time with their “screens” than they do interacting with their families. They even text each other while they are in the same room! We work long hours to make more money to buy more stuff and when we are close to death wonder why we did so.


Yes, I know, to some this means I’m old and out of touch. Yet, I can tell you with a good measure of admitted pride, that my family is strong, loving, supportive, and cares for others. We get involved in our community and we work to make it a better place in which to live. We respect our neighbors and help those we can. We appre-ciate quality films and books, and believe the arts should lift us and not pull us down. We strive each day to be better than we were the day before and, while we sometimes fall short, we share what we have to make our community a great place to have a home and raise a family.


Read the newspaper, or view the news on television. Suicides are up, drug use is at an all-time high as are deaths from them. Yet, in my country, Canada, our Prime Minister plans to make marijuana as freely available as alcohol is now as if we didn't have enough people killed each year by impaired drivers or die from smoking tobacco!


We learn of kids left in stifling cars on hot summer days while their parents play the slots at the casino. In Canada, our government as only now just begun a judicial inquiry into over 1200 missing or murdered indigenous women whose disappearances have been occurring for more than a decade! What is more, people in many countries are growing not to envy us but rather to hate our indifference to their living conditions. Consider this. We spend more money in the Americas on pet food than we do on food for the hungry people in countries struggling to feed their children.


Now, some will argue that we do help others. Look at the thousands of refugees from the Middle East whom we recently took into our countries. Rightly so, we can be proud that we did! Nevertheless, we could certainly do more, and while we absolutely should help when we can, we should not do so at the expense of the veterans who in large numbers are “refugees” in our own streets: homeless and in need of medical and psychological care. We can, and should do both!


For now, here at The Mean-ing of America™, I just want to draw attention to what I see that seems wrong. My goal is to inspire a conversation where we will not just focus on the mess we are getting ourselves into, but will go further and, because of our new awareness, offer solutions. Of course, complaining is easy. Doing something to make things better is a more difficult challenge. I’m committed to continuing to do my part to lift us up and to encourage others to stop pulling us down.


My goal is to end the mean-ing of society and to begin helping make us more compassionate, considerate, extraordinary, extremely caring, above average people, who are comfortable with each other regardless of our race, religion, orientations, or political views.


I think doing this will be a good use of my time. I welcome and invite your participation.


Gary Screaton Page