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A Recovering American

My name is Patrick.

I'm here because I'm a recovering American. It's very hard for me to get up here and talk about this addiction, because I've had a lot of people tell me, "I wish I had that problem!" And who would blame them, right? After all, what can be wrong about being an American? We've got the strongest military in the world, a great capitalist economy where anyone can make it big if they work hard, and freedom. Lots of people around the world would kill to enjoy the things I do.

And I guess that's why I'm here. There are a lot of people that want to kill me. Most of the time, I don't think about it. Between work and my girlfriend, rooting for my sports teams... I barely have time to take notice of what's going on in the world. But every now and then... like when 9/11 happened... I had to stop and think, "Why would anyone do this to me and my country?" The answers that I came up with made me uncomfortable inside.

I realized that all the things I enjoy, a lot of them anyway, are that way because of a lot of pretty nasty things my government does around the world. It was hard to find these things out, but if you look hard enough, you can see them. I mean, my government has been doing some crazy shit behind my back. Things like selling drugs, destroying capitalism, training terrorist death squads, and supporting dictators who don't respect the freedom we say we promote around the world.

Most of this stuff is supposed to be illegal, yet I let my government get away with it anyway. Why? I guess when it comes down to it; I never really cared about anyone else in the world. After all, everyone wants to be like us. Everybody comes here. That means we're doing something right, right?

I guess not. I realize now that most people come here because our standard of living is so high. But the reason it is so high is because our government works with the big corporations to rob all the other countries blind. We've been doing it that way for hundreds of years. That's the American Way. Kill your way to the top, and then when you get there, write a few songs and a few history books that tell you that all that killing and stealing you just did was a great thing. It even sounds better if you can get God to bless it all.

But breaking this addiction is gonna be hard, man. It's hard to know what the right thing to do is. I can't get the truth from the news channels or newspapers, 'cause the big corporations own most of them. And a lot of people have gotten killed for trying to tell the truth about things. I mean, there are big bucks to be made by telling lies and keeping quiet about things.

But I'm here because I know I need to be here. I did a lot of thinking about what being an American means. And I realized that it means that I am not supposed to trust any government whatsoever. That doesn't mean I don't believe in government, but it does mean that I have to always work to make sure they are telling the truth. There is too much power, and too much potential for hurt in my country and the world, if I don't keep up with what my government does.

I also realized that being an American is not about belonging to a country. It is about freedom. This country could burn tomorrow, but if I were alive, I'd still be free. Freedom is a natural quality, not a bonus plan for some people in the world. So as an American, I'm supposed to be helping others to get free too! Not just in my country, but the whole world over. Being American is supposed to be about being a good human.

I mean think about it. America is the place where Europeans came to give up being Europeans. Sure, we like to call ourselves Irish-American, African-American, Italian-American and the rest. But deep down, those things are the things our earlier immigrants were willing to give up if it meant a better life for them and their families. Many of them learned a whole new language and a whole new way of living because the old ways weren't working for them. They transcended their original culture to create a new one. I think it is time for all peoples, especially Americans, to transcend our culture again.

Why especially us? In order to create this culture, we had to take so much from so many people. I think we should set the precedent of giving something back to the world. We've been takin' and takin' for such a long time that the world is getting burned out by us. It's just something I feel like a responsible human being would do right now.

So I'm sorry, everybody. I haven't been a responsible human. But I'm gonna be one from now on. If that means forgetting that I'm an American in order to help us all share in the goodness of this planet, then so be it. If we all just shared what we had, there'd be less of a reason to fight over anything. So I'm giving up my share of what I've been holding back from all of you.

But you gotta be patient and forgive my other American friends who can't be here tonight, or won't come. You see, for all of our tough talk, most Americans are just a bunch of scared pussies... er, excuse my French! We talk like we are the best in the world, but my people are the most afraid. How do I know that? Because Americans can't face the truth about anything. If we faced the truth about what we were really doing all these years, we'd be sorry and have to make up for it. In other words, we'd have to change.

Most Americans don't want to give up their 401k's that are supporting drug-dealing corporations or companies that take advantage of uneducated workers around the world. We don't want to have to see the starvation we cause around the world on television, cause that would mean we couldn't enjoy our TV shows. We don't want to read and do the homework about real issues, because that would mean we would have to think. We are pretty good at memorizing stuff, but don't ask us to think too much.

And how else do I know that we're such a bunch of scared rabbits? Look how much we spend on the military! We don't spend that much to PROMOTE peace; we spend that much to protect ourselves from all you angry people that we've been robbing. It's like they used to say in kindergarten, "If you didn't do anything wrong, then what are you trying to hide?" This war on Terrorism isn't about protecting us from terrorism; it's about allowing us to use terrorism on you to keep you quiet when you scream about how unfair the world is.

So, thanks for being here and listening to me. I gotta tell ya, it feels kind of nice to just be in this room with a bunch of human beings... no labels... just people. But this is a hard addiction to fight, man. Maybe if I bring someone along with me next time, it'll be easier on me, and also give you people hope that things can change around here. I'm willing to try.


Unlearning -- the process that allows evolution to occur naturally by removing mental constructions that no longer serve human nature.

homepage: homepage: http://www.unlearning.org/recover.htm

I want to clear up a few things... 01.Jul.2003 08:22


Nice article, I just wanted to clarify some of your postions.

First of all the US is not "destroying capitalism", the mess you see with large multinationals working in concert with the US government to subvert and subdue other less fortunate nations IS capitalism. The US however, DOES try very hard to destroy democracy. Autocratic dictators are much easier to work with than democracies when the plundering of resources is involved.

My other issue is idea that the government and "us" are two separate entites with very different agendas. The idea that "big government" is a bad thing, that "more power to the people" is a bad thing is ridiculous. We ARE in fact the government in this country. We should start acting like it.

I want to clear up a few things... too 02.Jul.2003 00:49


It is a nice article.

It is really really silly to attack it by nitpicking the definition of 'capitalism'.

Perhaps the "us" Patrick means does not include Todd.
Indeed, it is quite possible that Patrick has never seen nor heard of Todd.