What If America
Found Its Soul?
By Jason Miller
29 August, 2005
Waking up to
Discover Your Soul is Missing....the Ultimate Nightmare
empty, you know. Your life is out of spinning out of control. I see
a bleak future if you dont
"What the hell
are you talking about? As powerful and successful as I am? I believe
in Jesus, I read the Bible, I go to church on Sunday....."
hey! Save the defensive diatribe. You came to me for help, remember?
If you really want me to sponsor you, I need for you to be honest, with
me and with you. Remember, awareness is the first step and "da-Nile"
aint just a river in Egypt!"
"I don't even
know why I came here. This is a waste of my valuable time. I have more
pressing engagements, and I am leaving!"
Perhaps you just aren't ready. But remember, by denying you have a problem
and walking out that door, you are proving you have a problem. Denial
and the "self will run-riot" are two obvious signs of an addict."
all right! It is true. I have problems that I can't fix on my own."
to hear you admit that. Awareness is the first step. I think you may
be ready to join our group."
maybe I am. So now what do I do?"
the discussion and you can introduce yourself like the others do. Then
you can tell your story. Trust me. You will feel a rush of tremendous
relief once you open up to the group and start a real spiritual journey."
"Who will be
community. Not one of us is above reproach Each of us has suffered from
spiritual maladies like you By coming here today, you are taking the
crucial first step that many of us did. You will be joining the world
community and moving toward spiritual healing. Now let's sit down. You
will be surprised at how readily the group will embrace and support
Courage to Take that First Step
(The two seat themselves
in the crowded room filled with the pungent odors of cigarette smoke
"Is it my turn
"My name is
America, and I am an addict."
(In a chorus of
replies in varying languages, the group welcomes America)
"I am addicted
to power, over-consumption, imperialism, deceit, avarice, hubris, and
war. Like a spoiled child with a self-will run amuck, I have tried to
force each of you to bend to my will. My life has become unmanageable,
I am powerless over my additions. I am prepared to turn my will over
to a Power greater than myself and allow that Power to restore me to
sanity. The fact that I am speaking to you in English and expecting
all of you to understand me shows how deep my arrogance runs. I come
before you today with a broken spirit. I have grossly abused my immense
power, and for that I am sorry. That is all I wish to say today. Thank
(The other members
of the group thank America for speaking)
By the Sweat
of my Brow
Nine months pass,
and America, supported by its sponsor, works the Twelve Steps with a
powerful determination. It is a long and arduous path, but America adheres
to its deep conviction to follow a course of spiritual redemption and
fulfillment. Surprisingly, many of the numerous nations and people America
has harmed over the years respond in a forgiving and supportive manner.
Let's listen in at the Twelve Step meeting in which America gives a
detailed accounting of its spiritual awakening.
"My name is
America, and I am an addict."
(America is met
by a chorus of welcome from the other nations comprising the Twelve
"I stand before
you with nine months of sobriety and mental clarity under my belt, and
I thank my Higher Power for granting me the serenity to accept the things
I cannot change, the courage the change the things I can, and the wisdom
to know the difference. I thank those of you who have offered me guidance
and support along the way.
"As I embarked
on my spiritual transformation, I realized what a cancer I had become
to humanity. To remedy this, I have shed my obsession with being number
one, and I have embraced a belief in a Power greater than myself. My
Higher Power is a composite of Jehovah, Jesus, Allah, Vishnu, and many
others. In fact, my Higher Power is amorphous, and those amongst my
people who remain atheist embrace science or reason as their Higher
Powers. Regardless of its form, the Higher Power I have chosen to embrace
espouses the values of non-violence, thrift, honesty, responsible use
of power, equality, compassion, critical thinking, careful scrutiny
and evaluation of evidence, preservation of our environment, a distribution
of resources that provides for the well-being of virtually all human
beings, respect for human rights and dignity, and participation in the
global community. Wow! When I look at the values of my Higher Power,
I see how obscenely misguided I was! Before my spiritual transformation,
adherence to these principles would have been utterly laughable, as
all of you know.
Steps One, Two and Three by admitting my powerlessness, finding faith
in a Higher Power to restore me to sanity, and turning my will over
to the care of my Higher Power, I fulfilled the harrowing task of Step
Four; I made my searching and fearless moral inventory. Afterwards,
the visage peering back at me in the mirror was more foul than the picture
of Dorian Gray. My corruption and moral turpitude had wrought an odious
image, and at that point, I knew the meaning of the notion that the
"Today I am
going to engage in Step Five as I admit to the God of my understanding,
myself and to others the exact nature of my wrongs. I need to take a
deep breath before I get started, and I need some water."
(America sighs deeply
and with a trembling hand takes a long sip of ice water to help regain
"Here I go.
I wrote my transgressions out and numbered them. I am going to read
them to you. Please bear with me as my voice cracks and I shed an occasional
(In a tone of uncertainty,
America begins reading the carefully prepared self-idictment)
1. I nearly exterminated
the indigenous people of North America, as I committed acts of genocide
and stole their land. To this day I continue to treat Native Americans
in a shameful manner.
2. I imported and
enslaved human beings from the continent of Africa, and I built a thriving
economy with their blood, sweat, and tears. It is with deep humiliation
that I admit the vile depths to which I sank in perpetuating the evil
institution of slavery. Black Americans struggle to this day with gross
economic inequality, inferior public education, bigotry, lack of access
to quality health care, persecution by the criminal justice system,
and inadequate representation in the government.
briefly for a few more deep breaths and another drink).
"Ok, I am ready
to continue," America says with a growing resolve behind the tremulous
3. Hispanics became
my largest minority as immigrants streamed across my borders seeking
economic opportunities and shelter from oppressive regimes I had created
in Latin America. Without stopping to realize that integrating into
a culture and learning a foreign language do not happen overnight, and
that many of these new Americans were willing to do the work that many
indigenous Americans were unwilling to do, I was indifferent to their
needs and met them with bigotry. I even allowed armed vigilantes (who
defiled the name of Revolutionary War heroes by calling themselves Minutemen)
to patrol my borders to "curb illegal immigration".
4. I allowed and
even openly endorsed an ongoing repression of gay rights. I banned gay
marriage in many states and refused to pass hate crime laws to protect
gays from savage attacks and murder. I also chose not to protect gays
from discrimination in the work place. Simply put, I left 5% of my population
unprotected by the rights guaranteed to my citizens under my Constitution.
5. It took me, the
bastion of freedom, until 1920 to amend my Constitution to give women
the right to vote. To this day I continue to reject an amendment which
would guarantee women equal rights. While women enjoy many more rights
today than they have throughout my history, they still face many barriers
in access to equal education and employment. Women are still grossly
under-represented in my government.
6. After a respite
of about fifty years during the Twentieth Century, I resumed a laissez
faire business environment. Union membership fell to 9% of the work
force. Avaricious titans like Wal-Mart abused their employees and paid
them sub-standard wages. Energy leviathans like Exxon reaped obscene
profits at the expense of the American consumer by keeping oil refinery
capacity low, and by pouring large sums of cash into think tanks which
created propaganda to further their agendas. The restrictions on the
securities and banking industries innovated after the stock market crash
in 1929 were removed. I made it more difficult for consumers to sue
corporations and businesses. I kept the minimum wage at sub poverty
level for years. In short, I favored profit-making and money over human
beings. I stand before you in ignominy.
(America again pauses
to regain composure, still surprised at the audience's empathy).
7. My foreign policy
was based on pursuit of hegemony and global domination, at any cost.
Perhaps more nauseating than the policy itself was the way in which
I peddled its virtues to my own people (and to the rest of the world)
like an uscrupulous used car salesman. As I committed war crimes, repeatedly
violated international law, ignored the UN, killed millions of innocents
in many countries on multiple continents, and tortured prisoners of
war, I worked vigorously to persuade the world that I was "spreading
freedom" and "planting the flag of liberty". In Nagasaki
and Hiroshima, I killed hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians
in an unnecessary show of force against a nation on the verge of surrender.
I have supported corrupt and ruthless dictators (many of whom tortured
and killed thousands of their own people) like Saddam Hussein, Shah
Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, Halie Salassie, General Augusto Pinochet, and
both Somozas in Nicaragua (to name but a few). With an unparalleled
zeal, I pursued the Bush Doctrine, which called for me to strike pre-emptively
and unilaterally, and to do whatever it took to maintain my military
dominance. I invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq (in defiance of the
UN) to topple Hussein, a former ally whom I had supported while he was
committing acts of genocide against the Kurds in the 1980's. My pretexts
for the invasion were later exposed as lies. My dishonesty, war crimes,
and gross miscalculations related to Iraq resulted in the deaths of
tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis, thereby creating an untold number
of new terrorists ready to retaliate by gutting my own citizens like
fish. My perverse actions in Iraq also led to the death of two thousand
of my own soldiers, who had agreed to lay their lives on the line to
defend a nation, not to expand an empire.
8. I created a complicated
network of corporations and business entities like Bechtel, Halliburton,
the Carlyle Group, and Lockheed Martin, whose bottom-line profits were
significantly fattened by the existence of a perpetual state of war.
Many of their executives retired to become members of government and
vice versa. Huge campaign donations and powerful lobbying efforts ensured
the continuation of lucrative government defense contracts to feed this
entity called the military industrial complex. When the "Communists"
ceased to be a viable threat in the minds of my citizens (with the collapse
of the Soviet Union), I needed a new enemy to justify the continued
escalation of military spending. Opportunistically, I seized 9/11 as
the advent of a "War on Terror". By 2005, military spending
had reached $600 billion (including expenditures for military-related
endeavors by non-military government entities like the DOE). While I
represented only 5% of the world's population, the money I spent on
defense equaled 50% of what the entire world spent to defend themselves.
It was staggering to realize how distorted this situation really was.
9. I even had a
proxy state to help me carry out my war crimes. Ignoring the fact that
there was room for co-existence in the Middle East, I threw the full
weight of my financial and military support behind Israel, my co-conspirator
in engaging in state terrorism. Ignoring the plight of the Palestinians,
it was easy to look the other way when the Israeli government committed
atrocities against them. In fact, I even endorsed these acts of state
terrorism against the Palestinians as justified acts of self defense.
However, when the Palestinians retaliated, I cried foul and labeled
them as terrorists. My hypocrisy was practically without bounds.
10. As I slopped
the corporate hogs dipping their snouts into the trough of the military
industrial complex, I used the "War on Terror" I had created
to justify siphoning funds from the "socialistic welfare state"
to stuff the pockets of my corporate cronies. Along the way, I bankrupted
myself by accruing a debt of $8 trillion, which gave me further justification
to seriously curtail or end the "handouts" to the "lazy
masses". The wealth gap widened to a chasm as the concentration
of wealth in the hands of a few grew to a level unseen since the "Roaring
20's", the precursor to the Great Depression. I raised regressive
taxes and lowered progressive taxes. I was addicted to wealth, power
and war. I just couldn't get enough, and I didn't care who got hurt
or died along the way.
11. Through my corporate-dominated
media, I deluded my people into believing that I was Gary Cooper in
High Noon, and that I could do no wrong as the sheriff who would make
the world safe for democracy. I used the media as a means of propaganda
to glorify over-consumption, violence, and immediate gratification.
I became a debtor nation of people who felt compelled to have more,
bigger, better and faster. Right now. I desensitized my people to the
plight of human suffering here and abroad. I promoted religious fanatics
like Pat Robertson who were as inflammatory and dangerous as the Islamic
mullahs I cursed. I glorified unrealistic ideals of financial success,
fame, and physical attractiveness to the point that those who did not
"fit the mold" often experienced depression and eating disorders.
Fast food, easy bucks, quick weight loss, and instant salvation (for
a free ticket to heaven, accept Christ as one's savior) became "spiritual"
staples of my people.
12. I acted with
a growing disregard for the state of the environment. I refused to sign
the Kyoto Treaty and denied the reality of Global Warming as I produced
25% of the greenhouse gasses. I relaxed clean air and water laws. I
allowed my friends in the oil industry to portray Global Warming as
a myth and to impede development of energy sources as an alternative
to fossil fuels. The concession I finally made to the need to lessen
dependence on fossil fuels was to increase the production of nuclear
energy, despite its inherent dangers to humanity and the environment.
this moral inventory, I now realize the depth of my iniquity, and I
feel deeply sorry to those I have harmed along the way. Words cannot
express the anguish I feel for the damage I have wrought upon the world."
and sobs fitfully for several minutes. His peers watch and wait with
patience and respect, knowing that regardless of America's crimes in
the past, a spiritually enlightened America has the capacity to make
the world a much better place. They also recognize that they are not
without sin either, and are still on the life-long road to redemption
a semblance of composure, America speaks again)
"I am ready
to continue now. Having fulfilled the Fifth Step by admitting the exact
nature of my wrongs to you, I am now ready to have the Higher Power
of my understanding remove these defects of character, which means I
have also accomplished Step Six. As I stand before you, I will take
Step Seven and humbly ask Him to remove my shortcomings. Higher Power,
I humbly ask you to remove my shortcomings."
How Will America
Repay its Debt to the World?
"As you know,
Steps Eight and Nine involve listing those I have harmed and making
amends to them. The list of those I have harmed over my 229 year life
span would be too long to enumerate here, but I will tell you how I
plan to make amends:
"I will start
by disbanding the military industrial complex. I need to end the incestuous
relationship between my government and its defense contractors. I will
stop the obscene over-spending on defense in order to start paying down
my atrociously high debt, and to infuse more money into humanitarian
efforts within my borders and abroad. I will bolster my public education
system, find ways for all of my people to access health care, work toward
ending homelessness, increase funding to assist the disabled and those
with emotional disorders, and significantly increase humanitarian aid
to other nations, while seeing to it that the money is channeled toward
teaching them to fish rather than simply giving them fish for the day.
I also pledge to take up the cause of the formation of a sovereign Palestinian
state, and to utilize my power in the United Nations to better the world
rather than abusing it to further my self interests.
"I will end
my colonial occupation of sovereign nations like Iraq and abandon my
imperialistic designs spelled out in the Bush Doctrine and Project for
the New American Century. I will begin a systematic closing of my military
bases around the world. If other nations do not have the right to maintain
military bases on my soil, I have no right to maintain bases on their
soil. I will scrap my plans for the militarization of space. I will
work toward multi-lateral nuclear disarmament across the globe. While
my defense spending will diminish dramatically, I still recognize the
need for a reasonable military force to defend my people, and will provide
(America is forced
to pause as listeners drown out America's discourse with their enthusiastic
I will make reparations
to black Americans a reality by channeling significant amounts of money
previously spent on defense toward improving education in the inner
city schools which have predominantly black enrollment, offering educational
assistance and job training to black adults, and finding ways to deliver
adequate health care and employment opportunities to black Americans.
Descendents of former slaves, black Americans still face many obstacles
resulting from years of bondage, abuse, and dehumanization of their
I will end the corrupt
stranglehold of the Duopoly of the Democratic and Republican Parties
and legitimately open the playing fields to candidates from other parties.
I will employ Clean Money, Clean Elections reform, which will distribute
equal amounts of public money to qualified candidates, and will end
the corruption resulting from lobbyists and corporate interests gaining
undue influence over elected officials. Fraudulent elections like those
in 2000 and 2004 will be banished to the dustbin of history as I implement
election laws to prevent the Katherine Harris's and the Diebolds of
my nation from determining presidential election outcomes. These will
be important steps toward creating a healthy republic based on my Constitution,
an ingenious blueprint for government without equal.
I will finally admit
that the War on Drugs has been a sham, used to justify military intervention
in countries like Colombia and to stock the prison industrial complex
(another of my corrupt, incestuous government/corporate relationships)
with slave labor from amongst the poor and minorities. Prohibition failed,
and so has the War on Drugs. I am calling a cease fire in this war,
and will divert funds from law enforcement and use them to educate children
about the inherent dangers of using tobacco, alcohol, and other recreational
drugs, and for programs to treat addicts. Draconian laws which send
non-violent drug users to prison for possession of small amounts of
illegal drugs will be abolished. Harsh laws and consequences for driving
under the influence will remain on the books.
I am going to re-strengthen
laws to regulate businesses so that I can strike a balance between raw
capitalism and socialism. History has taught me that unregulated businesses
will seek to maximize profit, regardless of the human cost. Organized
labor plays a valuable role in protecting the rights of my working people,
and its members will again enjoy many of the legal protections which
I have stripped from them over the last thirty years. Alternatively,
I have also learned the folly of over-regulating corporations to the
point that they are unable to make a reasonable profit. My new paradigm
will involve finding a middle ground so that business and humanity can
The passage of the
ERA and a constitutional amendment ensuring gay rights will become realities.
The Voting Rights Act will become a permanent federal law to ensure
that minorities are not denied their fundamental Constitutional right
to vote in my elections. I will aggressively work to help the growing
Hispanic population integrate into my society without discriminating
against them, or demanding that they know English on the day of their
arrival. I will disband the Minutemen.
Finally, I will
work to become a cooperative member of the world community rather than
the belligerent bully I have been. Working through the public education
system (teaching my children), I am going to infuse my people with a
respect and understanding of other cultures and nations. Unilateral
foreign policy decision-making will be history, except in matters of
self-defense. Under my new system of values, the dominance of the white
patriarchy will end. I am a homogenous melting pot of immigrants from
around the globe. This is one of my strengths, and I will maximize it
by opening doors to wider participation by members of varying races,
religions, genders, sexual orientations, cultures, and nationalities.
Being white, male and Christian will no longer be a prerequisite to
rise to the top of hierarchies amongst my people, government and organizations.
In this way, my ties with the world community will strengthen, and much
of the global hatred for me will subside. With a renewed spirit of cooperation,
I will be able to tenaciously pursue the truly noble causes of peace
and social justice. Cindy Sheehan will feel proud of her nation once
(America sits down
to a round of thunderous applause and humbly thanks the group for its
Roll up Your
Sleeves and Get Busy
Several days pass,
and America's Twelve Step sponsor again initiates a conversation with
the spiritually renewed nation:
you set some lofty goals for yourself. Do you think you can reach them?
"I have prayed
and meditated for the will and the power to carry out my amends to those
I have harmed. That was my Eleventh Step. It is now up to me to do the
work, but the outcome rests in the hands of my Higher Power."
"I do believe
you have reached the Twelfth Step. America, you have truly had a spiritual
awakening and are ready to practice these principles in all your affairs.
I wish you the best. Remember, humanity is counting on you!"
is a 38 year old activist writer with a degree in liberal arts. He works
in the transportation industry, and is a husband and a father to three
boys. His affiliations include Amnesty International, the ACLU and the
Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He welcomes responses
or comments on his blog at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/.