lessons in adventure, aimlessness and alchemy

RIP America

To all who are predicting the imminent doom of our country:

(An open letter.)

You are right. America is done. It would be easy to argue with you, maybe try to calm you in a tender moment of bipartisanship and assure you that the United States of America, as you know it, is safe and sound in the hands of President Obama. But it would also be a lie.

You see, these past four years have been endemic of an America dying and last night’s election was a nail in its coffin. I’ll tell you a damning secret: I fought tooth and nail to kill that America–so reassuring you wouldn’t just be a lie, it would be terribly disingenuous.

The America that treated anybody other than white men as ‘minorities’ and ‘special interest groups’ is dying. The America that systematically disenfranchised communities to make sure power stayed in the hands of those who already had it is dying. The America that told my friends and family that they didn’t deserve a life with just as many chances and opportunities and rights because of their sexual orientation is dying. The America that treated women who wanted to control their own bodies as sluts and whores is dying. The America that treated the woman who raised me as a dangerous criminal simply because she came to this country to give her children a better shot is dying. The America that looked at her as ‘illegal’ and a ‘leech on our society’ long after she earned US citizenship is dying. The America that pigeonholed her because she is Mexican is dying. The America that let its people die because they had fallen on hard times and couldn’t afford health care in their hour of need is dying. The America that assumed anybody on welfare was a lazy, drug addict is dying. The America that was fundamentally mistrusting and judgmental of any religion other than Christianity is dying. The America that used the word ‘muslim’ as synonymous with ‘terrorist’ is dying. The America that assumed a single mother working two jobs that was still unable to make ends meet meant that she had made poor choices or that she needed to work harder is dying. The America that says giving individuals a fair shot will make them lazy or despondent or dependent is dying. The America that thought young people who weren’t born into wealth should be forced to skip college or else go into crippling debt because of it is dying.

My dear adept doom predictor, you also like to say that our Founding Fathers would be disappointed if they saw our country today and if they saw our election last night. But given that many of those Founding Fathers were slave owners, I contend that they would mostly be confused.

I don’t know what a handful of 300-year-old white men would say or feel about the state of our country (and frankly, neither do you). They did acknowledge that it was not a perfect union when it was founded and I openly acknowledge that it is not a perfect union today.

But I do know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the men (and women) who built our young country called the United States of America ‘the great experiment’ as it was audacious to found a country while openly acknowledging that it would never be finished building and evolving and changing. I know that the men and women who built our young country built it to be a place where patriotism meant the constant and fearless pursuit of a MORE perfect union.

And pursuing that more perfect union requires constantly doing away with the things that make us less than.

The America that allowed slaves DIED. The America that said a woman’s vote wasn’t as relevant and important and useful as a mans DIED. The America that legislated that two people of different races falling in love was an offensive abomination DIED.

So today, another version of America is dying. The America we knew is terminal. It is not dead yet but the tides of change cannot be quelled or quieted or filibustered or bullied away. America is changing–just as it always has, just as it was meant to.

I will not fault you for mourning for your America–loss is hard and change is scary. I will not try and convince you that you are wrong about your America dying because you are right and it’s so nice to agree with each other for once.

I will however say goodbye because I am wandering forward towards the new America, I am walking and fighting towards a more perfect union.

I truly hope one day I will see you there.


Carina Kolodny, United States of America, November 7, 2012


27 Responses to “RIP America”

  1. Leona Aronovitch

    You have validated and encouraged the hope I have in our country. Thank you!

  2. David E. Williams

    I believe that a copy of this letter should be put in the Smthsonian. It is a truth that many do not want to hear, but it is the truth that really describes what this country is about warts and all. I just wish I was capable of writing something this eloquent and powerful.

  3. Teri Goggin-Roberts

    Thank you! Thank you! You speak from my heart. I would add one other dying America… the America that believes in “OR.” My religion OR yours. My reproductive rights OR yours. My sexual preference OR yours. What is emerging is an America that believes in “AND.” My religion AND yours. My reproductive rights AND yours. My sexual preference AND yours. This America, one that celebrates everyone’s choice as valid, is one that I believe is what those 300 year old white men were really trying to achieve… Liberty AND justice for all.

  4. Hope

    “The America that treated women who wanted to control their own bodies as sluts and whores is dying.”
    In 1972 when I was 21 and seeking birth control pills, the doctor that had just examined me threw a sample pack at me across his rather large desk. It had taken extreme courage to even ask for the pills. His lack of regard and obvious disgust at me was humiliating and led to the eventual abortion I had. Thank god that American is dead.

    • What???

      What? You are thanking god that america died in the same paragraph as telling everyone you killed your child. Perfect!

      • carik

        This is exactly the problem with YOUR America. You have a personal belief about when life begins and so you try to legislate on that religious belief to the detriment of women, families and communities. You have every right to be against abortion. That’s thanks to the freedom of religion in our country, by the way. Unfortunately for you, that freedom of religion also says you can’t take your doctrine and shove it down my throat. The America that tolerated you bullying and harassing and torturing women as they made difficult decisions about their bodies is dying. It also never ceases to amaze me that religion based on an amazing man who said, “let him who is without sin cast the first stone” is consistently so anxious to cast the first stone. In the words of Gandhi, “I like your Christ but I do not like your Christians, they are so unlike your Christ.”

      • Sophie Amrain

        Mr or Ms What???
        Nearly half of human fetuses do not make it through the third month for natural reasons, so-called spontaneous abortions. Development is a complicated process and does go wrong quite often.
        At the end of the third month the human fetus is less than 4 inches long and does not look much like anything. To call that stage a “child” and abortion (which often occurs at that stage) “killing a child” is devaluing the concept “child” and trivializing the concept “killing” – in other words, not a good idea.

  5. Liza Bach

    Carina, I just read your page here because a friend shared it on FB…. I have to tell you what you have written here is quite possibly the most beautiful, eloquent post election piece I have read to date. I think you are 100% correct in your assessments and I too will repost this. I am pleased and proud to share our New America with you!
    Peace, Liza Bach

    • carik

      Thank you, Liza! I’m glad you found your way to my blog and I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m pleased so many of us get to move America forward together!

  6. susan shaddock

    I wish that all the people who are still having meltdowns would realize the truth of what you have written, but most of them wouldn’t even read it. Somehow they believe that the U.S. can be run like a CEO runs a corporation and that includes putting profits before people. The election results make clear that the majority of us do not agree. Thank you for so clearly stating my own opinions.

  7. Tom Gibbs

    As well, the America that offers prosperity is dying. The America that offers the opportunity for those who work hard for the business they built is dying. Look, everyone loved the story of Robin Hood, steal from the rich and give to the poor, but it’s just a story and while you might have been on his side, it doesn’t mean that it is right. The top earners in this country pay the majority of the taxes in this country. They support this country and have notoriously given generously back in the form of charities as well as paying more than there fair share of taxes. You may look at some of their percentages and think that they paid less, but take a look at the actual dollar figures they pay in taxes, the top 2% probably pay more in taxes than any given middle class group of 20 or 30 of friends makes in a year. It is no wonder to me why our society has people with so much personal debt. My thoughts are the housing crisis that was caused by banks lending to people that can’t afford their homes is every bit a consequence of watching our government spend money the way it does. And don’t go blaming W on that. You have Carter to thank for the housing crisis, yes it started all the way back with him, it just took some time to culminate. Watch your government spend the trillions it doesn’t have and you’ll think you can get away with it, so you run up your credit cards and buy things you can’t afford and boom, there you are, broke and asking for bankruptcy protection, from whom, the government. Sorry for that tangent. Look, I am fiscal conservative. I’m not a woman, and I respect the rights of women. I am pro-choice and I don’t believe, no matter what they say in their campaign, that any Republican will ever get Rowe v. Wade overturned, so it isn’t an issue that I considered when I cast my vote. I think that entitlement reform is more than overdue. The number of government run agencies and government funded agencies is ridiculous. Reform means change,not necessarily doing away with everything. Best I can tell, we just have too many agencies doing the same thing and none of them doing it efficiently or effectively. If you put a businessman in charge, it can be done better. It can be run like a company instead of the mess we have now. If you think for a second that those systems are not being abused, you are looney. So many people have dropped out of the workforce because they have found out that is easier to be on unemployment that our country has truly lost its spirit. Immigration reform is badly needed. I worked in an industry that is heavy into the employment of hispanics and I ensured that my employees were here legally. This is not being done enough. If someone is here illegally, they need to go back and try to get in the way millions have through the process. Does the process need work, sure it does, that is what reform is all about. Go to another country and lose your passport and see how you get treated then let me know what you think about how evil we are for wanting to control our borders. Maybe the stigma of being a Latino in America wouldn’t be as bad if everyone didn’t think that every Latino they see is here illegally. They think that way because so many are. Part of what you don’t realize is that the majority of illegal aliens in this country are not paying taxes and are sending the bulk of their earnings back to their native country. Don’t believe me, ask one. I’m sad for the dying of an America that doesn’t have to be dependent on foreign oil when we have plenty here in this country to last for a very, very, very long time, but we won’t be tapping into that for another 4 years. I hate that our President is covering up a scandal in the Benghazi tragedy because he didn’t want it to look like a terrorist act right before election day. I hate that our President has spent more money than any other president and actually and yet can’t get a single budget passed through Congress. That is his job and he has failed to do it every year of his administration. Ask around and see how many CEO’s have lasted more than a year without approving an annual budget. ObamaCare was set up so that we wouldn’t start feeling the true effects of it until after this election and it is already starting. Companies are already laying off people because of the costs that they will incur under this plan. Socialized medicine will be the downfall of the great healthcare that we have in this country. We have lead the world in medical advances over the years, look for a screeching halt to that. You will be seeing a huge surge in the retirement of doctors who would have normally been hanging on for another 10 years or so in 2013, they are getting out while the getting is good and I cannot blame them. Is there room for reform in healthcare, absolutely. Should a massive bill that most of the Congress had no time to read and understand have been shoved down our throats because it was on Obama’s agenda to do so before he lost full control of Congress been passed, hell no! I could go on and on and on about where I fear this president is going to take us, but I have to get to work, wait, I have to get to the gas station first and fill up the tank with overpriced gas.

      • Tom Gibbs

        So being a white guy, I can’t have an opinion? AND I fit into a classification? Sorry, you don’t know me very well, I’m actually a pro-choice agnostic who could care less if gay marriage is legal, but I’m also a hard working entrepreneur who owns two companies, working on a third and struggles daily with the direction this country is going. I can also tell you that as a business owner, the unemployment system in this country is a joke, in the last 5 years, I have not had one single phone call from someone looking for employment. Why, because it is too easy to just have the government slab money onto a debit card. I remember the good ole days when you at least had to prove that you were looking for a job to collect unemployment, now it’s as easy as direct deposit!

      • susan shaddock

        Sure, you can have an opinion, and you may express it to your heart’s content. It’s just that everyone else already knows what it is.

    • Sophie Amrain

      Tom, you seem to live in a separate reality. I must have missed the part of Obama’s speeches where he pushed for the Robin Hood model. I mainly heard stuff about the importance of small business as the backbone of American prosperity and about everybody paying their fair share. Also an America, where everybody should have the chance to suceed, if they are willing to work hard.

      With respect to healthcare, it was second rate in the US, as you can see from the mortality statistics.

      The US “has slipped in lowest risk rankings from 28th in the world to 41st. At 4.3 neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births the US shares the 41st spot with Qatar, Croatia, and the United Arab Emirates.” http://singularityhub.com/2011/09/08/us-child-mortality-rates-rank-41st-in-the-world/
      Hopefully with Obamacare, that will now improve. Also, Obamacare is a start to reign in the costs of healthcare.

  8. Ryan Morris

    You failed to mention the NDAA, the unjust war on drugs (which helps incarcerate countless non-violent minorites), the fact that every tax dollar now goes directly to paying our interest, the $5 Trillion in new debt, our fiat money, a federal reserve that prints fiat money…. I’m sure I left some things out here. Thank God you mentioned abortion though, because keeping the right to kill a child is somehow more important to our future than all of these other issues.

    • carik

      I won’t quarrel with you on abortion as your views are surely rooted in your faith and religious convictions and I think it is both disrespectful and unproductive to argue anybody in or out of religion. Likewise, it is disrespectful to this country to try and project your religious convictions into legislation–that’s for countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, not the USA.

      I wholeheartedly agree with you in regard to the war on drugs–it’s absolutely unjust and a complete waste of time and resources. See–we don’t disagree on everything! However, I think we still have a lot of work to do on ending that problem and this was a list of victories on the horizon. (I would point out that Nixon declared the ‘war on drugs’ which has lead to this mess… though it certainly has been exacerbated by many Presidents from both parties and Obama has done little to ameliorate it.)

      As for $5 trillion in debt–a large part of the increase in the debt has to do with a huge decrease from tax revenue which resulted from the recession–a recession that took place under George W. Bush, by the way. This also has to do with the fact that congress refused to work with President Obama in terms of raising taxes on the uber-rich (likely because most in congress fall under that designation.) The GOP, I might add, declared from the very beginning that their foremost goal was to defeat President Obama in 2012–a feat they thankfully didn’t accomplish as arguably many Americans would have preferred to see them declare that their foremost goal was helping their constituents.

      If Romney had a better plan for decreasing the deficit, he had every opportunity to bring it to the table during his candidacy. Unfortunately he didn’t and I find it hard to believe that the reason that he didn’t was because it was SUCH a good idea that everybody would love SO much that he wanted to keep it a surprise.

      Obama is not a perfect President and this is not a perfect Country–anybody who argues otherwise is kidding themselves. But, in my opinion, we are moving towards a more perfect union. You have every right to disagree–in fact, in some ways I am happy that you do. This country needs competing opinions presented by intelligent people, that’s what challenges ALL parties to be better.

      I might only say, as another American who wants this country to be better, that calling abortion ‘the right to kill a child’ will not get you anywhere in moving our country forward. Others (who might agree with you on different issues) will immediately turn away from you and your offensive, alienating rhetoric. That is an issue you and the Republican party will eventually have to contend with if you want to continue to be relevant players in our Democracy.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.


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