By Dr. Denise R. Ames
Individual expectations have exceeded our government’s and society’s willingness or ability to meet them. This has left many people in a social malaise, always wanting more from a beleaguered government.
I have observed that the appeal of the political philosophy of democratic socialism is based on the notion of getting something for nothing. The politicians promise that the government can provide many of the life’s comforts with little effort from recipients. Free college education, reimbursement of student loan debt, free health care, well-paying and secure jobs, subsidized day care, and a host of other goodies. Young people I hear interviewed about who they will vote for in the presidential primary overwhelmingly base their vote on getting their student loan debt forgiven, receiving free college tuition, or a possible minimum income.
Free college is quite a benefit. I remember toiling for a long, hot summer at a potato chip factory to earn enough to pay my tuition and expenses for a year of college. With a little help from my parents, and low-cost tuition, I saved enough money to pay the costs, with lots of grueling over-time and Saturday work. I had some “skin” in the college game, I wasn’t going to blow it.
The disconnect between generous social programs and the money to pay for them is transferred from the individual to the government. Does this seem like a good idea? I am questioning it.
The disconnect between our expectations and reality also play our as far as our social justice movements are concerned. Race relations have been getting better since the Civil Rights movements in the 1950s and 1960s. Yet, true equality has not been achieved, and racism does persist. But as a person who has lived through the movement, I can say relations have improved a great deal. I remember as a teacher in an all-black school in Jackson, Mississippi in the mid-1970s, black and white teachers had to plan very carefully on where was a safe place to go for an outing together to celebrate the end of the work week. Something unheard of today.
Yet our expectations for more equal race relations have turned into the left using racism as the reason for inequality at every turn. It is the answer to every example of gaps between whites and blacks, from incarceration rates, police shootings, disparate school test results, health outcomes, and the list goes on. We need to look beyond just racism as the stock answer to every social problem affecting the black community.
The disconnect between reality and expectations is an expanding gap turning into a yawning abyss. I have found this is one of the reasons for the growing acceptance of socialism among the under 40 crowd in the U.S. The government is seen as a surrogate parent, able to shield a harsh social reality from innocent and naïve eyes. No need to fear for the future, it will be planned out for you by the government. After all, you are entitled to it. It is not your responsibility, but your right.
I will continue to blog about the cultural divide in our country in March. My forthcoming book—Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them—describes the cultural divide primarily in the U.S. through the lens of five worldviews—indigenous, traditional, progressive, globalized, and transformative. Ideas from the blogs are explained in the book as well.
About the Author
Dr. Ames’ varied life experiences—scholarly research, teaching, reflections, and extensive travels—have contributed to her balanced and thoughtful perspectives. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, professional development trainings, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded the educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, developing globally-focused books and educational resources. She has written seven books, blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, and teaching units for the non-profit and clients.
Dr. Ames is now developing a program called Turn—transformative understanding and reflection network—that encourages life-long learners to see things with new eyes, shift perspectives, and understand the balance in all things. She teaches classes and writes about cross-cultural awareness, indigenous wisdom, a transformative worldview, learning from the past, a mythic journey, and transforming travel.