The Real World
There is one phrase that I absolutely despite, and it's targeted to college students quite frequently—"wait until the real world." In this so-called 'real world,' people apparently live on less than $12,000 a year. While many college students don't make enough to pay enough taxes to cover their idealistic visions of the future, is this really reason to deny them their experiences? I'm an idealist, and a lucky one at that. Here's what I understand: in the 'real world' I won't keep getting money to study in Europe. That doesn't invalidate what I've seen, though.
I don't travel to go see Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum. Sure, I've see all of those things, but my experiences wouldn't be any less without them. I travel to learn. To see how cities operate that aren't based around automobile traffic, but foot traffic. To experience getting from point A to point B using 4 forms of transit; not the 1 of an automobile. To talk to the people living under the policies that I believe in and espouse, to see if they're as good as I believe they are.
At this point in my life, my experiences lead me to a frightening conclusion: I don't want to be in America. It isn't a petty cultural thing; as Anglophilic and Italophilic as I am, all cultures have pitfalls. Mine has upsides.
There's a word you hear quite frequently applied to failed nations: hubris. This is exactly what I see deteriorating America. We are the sole world superpower. We will lose our dominance. Our refusal to believe that we will lose our position of superiority is only accelerating the process. The house Republicans are so smugly destroying American infrastructure in their self-righteous quest to somehow fix the country.
I could talk for hours on Republicans. It's no surprise to any of you how much I loathe their ideology. It's based on that age-old quest to prove the moral superiority of selfishness; a quest which will never yield success. In their hegemonic drive to do so, countless souls get hurt. And as painful as it is for me to watch the problems right now, as programs like WIC and funding for safe sex get slashed, that possibly worries me the least. We are destroying our future.
Yes, there's credence in the belief that our debt will cause significant headaches for our future. But the solutions being offered are to cut precisely those projects which aim to enhance our future. Endless wars halfway across the earth are given funding cuts as the Republicans seek to remove the ability of the EPA to issue environmental regulations. Florida's Republican governor has decided that federal water-quality standards need not apply to his populace. That kind of insanity is as maddening as it is misanthropic: a man, elected by the people to protect the people, instead seeks to destroy their health for the material gain of few. And people are so blinded by ideology that they protect him.
And then, we have the past month. The storms across the American south have caused unprecedented damage. Fayetteville got half a meter of rainwater in one day. Alabama was ravaged by tornadoes. As I type this post, the rising waters of the St. Francis river are threatening to break the levee keeping my brother-in-law's family farm from being flooded. I've barely seen the sun in two weeks. And we take these things as normal while we continue to enable politicians who oppose any sort of environmental regulation and choose to simply ignore science because they don't understand it and it's more advantageous for them not to.
Graduation is supposed to be a joyous event, but I'm terrified. I'm watching the world fall apart and people do all the wrong things to fix it. Republicans, in their blind quest to enforce their ideology, have forgotten how to do the most requisite part of politics: compromise. And slowly, by their actions, the world burns.
We are literally dismantling our future. Refusing to build high-speed rail because we don't need it now. Refusing to abandon oil because it's too profitable to keep it. Refusing to protect the environment because the savings over the long run aren't as tangible as the costs affected today. And refusing to do what we claim is our main priority as a country: promote democracy. We daily prop up China, the worst and most systematic human rights offender in the world. We sell them our debt, practically begging them to eclipse us as the world power. All because we refuse to believe that we can do no wrong; can never fail.