Friday, November 8, 2013

A Bird's Eye View of the American Society

By Saeed Qureshi

America is the strongest nation and the most prosperous nation. But it is equally a poor and weak nation. It is an abode of civil liberties, human rights, democracy and individual freedom. But it is equally a closed society, inherently slave and devoid of soul. It is law abiding but equally law breaking. In social and human relationship, it is very moral but on matters such as sex and use of drugs it is most immoral and relaxing. It debars the teen-agers from drinking and sex indulgence but ironically the most crimes on these counts come from the teen-agers.

People simultaneously go to the Church and the sex dens. It is the most caring for its citizens yet the old age in this country is on the whole a curse. Apparently the majority harbors a sense of being very secure and behind this feeling of security is always a hidden and lurking dread of insecurity and fear of attack or assault from the invisible enemies.

The countless cars, the posh malls, the big stores with teeming shoppers exude the glimpse of a highly prosperous society. But underneath is always a tension running to pay off the bills on time and to keep the credit unblemished. Most of the commoners hanker after more hours, double jobs or shifts to cover the escalating and inflating bills which deprive them of the due share of sleep and lead to psychological disorders. It would not be an exaggeration to maintain that the largest segments of the society are psychologically upset.

There is individual liberty but there is rampant crime too. Other societies where crime rate is high, cannot be equated with the American society because compared to the former, it is otherwise a highly civilized society. The crime rate in the poor and less civil societies is understandably high due to a host of factors such as poverty, ignorance illiteracy and unstable socio-economic conditions. 

There are sporadic outbursts by individuals with pent up or suppressed anger, frustration or depression out of which they shoot in educational institutions, at shopping malls, or resort to blood orgy at their work places.

Universally, poverty leads to thefts, larceny and other crimes of minor and major nature. In America it is equally true. The members belonging to the less privileged sections of the society have made it as their occupation or a supplementary source of earning by robbing or breaking in at places like convenience stores, food stores, liquor stores or other places of small businesses.

Granting that it is not an ideal society, yet we cannot ignore the sordid fact that despite watertight statutes, people tend to by -pass, tamper with and cheat in tax payments and in deriving their social benefits. The lawyers invariably pursue and induce their clients to claim for ill health and injuries with their help beyond their entitlement. 

The doctors falsify and exaggerate medical reports to enable a claimant to draw more money than what they deserve. It is a public knowledge that the injury seldom heals or the ailment goes away while all the three participants in the game i.e., doctor, attorney and the claimant keep making the ill gotten money for years together.

The American society is an ideal example of a paradoxical society where contradictions abound. There are mega and super duper rich and there are miserable and scum of the earth. The only difference is that the rich are a few while the poor are numerous. The poor are content with going to cheap fast food restaurants and inexpensive clubs. 

They would dream of a glorious and luxurious life once they win a big prize in the lottery. The dream seldom comes true. They remain tied up in a vicious cycle of taking debts and paying these back. The majority of people in American nurse high expectations, bloated hopes and hyped wishes but these are seldom realized.

Politics in America is the exclusive preserve and pastime of the highly wealthy. It is unthinkable for common people to step into the arena of politics, which requires huge funds and a very prominent social status. The ordinary people have the right to vote and choose their representatives and their role ends at that. Beyond where decision making is involved, it is only the rich elite who have complete sway. What to speak of the national elections, the local elections can be beyond the wildest imagination of an ordinary person. The reason is the same. Every one has neither the clout nor the money to go into the election arena.

While there is a layer of a material prosperity laid over the society, underneath there is a simmering discontent and an overriding tension arising out of a host of factors most outstanding being the economic hardships and a running tussle between what they have to earn and what they have to pay. The people are well fed; they can buy cars, houses, furniture and anything under the sun they aspire for. The key is the credit card. Thereafter, one has to keep paying back the money to the banks with high rate of interest.

This is pure and ruthless capitalist system thriving on the interest attached to purchases done on the credit. The majority of the populace instead of direct cash payments makes use of the loans and credit for fear of IRS, which ruthlessly deals with those making huge cash transactions. This sustains and boosts the ruthless capital economy but in fact compels the people to deviate and dodge the right path by concealing their actual wealth.

The over riding notion is against smoking but not drinking although drinking is equally injurious for health. There are anti- smoking promotional advertisements on the electronic or in the print media. The cigarettes are one of the most expensive commodities. Despite a mounting and continuous vigorous awareness national campaign about the risk in smoking, still a huge population lavishly smokes. The smoking and drinking is increasing like an epidemic with extremely disastrous consequences already unfolding themselves.

More than the drinking and tobacco smoking, it is the use of drugs, dopes and intoxicating material that are fast spreading among the people of all ages and social strata. The sale or use of the drugs carries harsh punishments. But have these punishments seldom produced the desired results of curtailing if not completely stopping the use of drugs like Hashish, Cocaine and Heroin? The answer is emphatic NO.Keeping in view the proliferation of drugs, may be one day the government allows the use of all these lethal drugs openly. 

Already several states have allowed smoking of marijuana or pot.  That will be the pinnacle of civil liberties but at what cost: a whole nation falling into the pit of drug addiction .Who is going to work if every second person would remain doped and therefore become mentally or physically unfit for work. . It sounds a worst case scenario but only a miracle can restrain the people from drug addiction. It is already having a snowballing effect.

The ugliest perversion if one could imagine of, is the bizarre deviation from the natural course of matrimonial bond .One can admit or bear the occasional homosexuality. But what about a big revolt against the nature and for that matter against God in shape of marriages between man and man and woman and woman .The number of such males and females who have strayed to unnatural frontiers runs into millions.

This is a sheer and sordid perversion and a kind of immorality that cannot be condoned, forgiven or justified in the name of human or fundamental rights or social freedom. The abominable trend and the practice of being together of the members of the same gender cannot be criticized on the basis of religion and the Holy Scriptures. There are things, which on the face look so ignoble and unworthy and undermine the dignity and self esteem.

Duality is ingrained in the very nature, psyche and genesis of American nation. They call themselves the nation of immigrants but there is simmering disliking or bias for other immigrants. The ground for such a behavior could be color, race, region, religion or simply being an alien However, the law and the constitution prohibit any discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender, faith or age.

According to the latest statistics 35.7% of American adults (men and women) and 17% children are obese. These figures are going up. The abundance of food and especially rich food and lack of physical activity are the factors leading to obesity among the citizens at an alarming rate. Correspondingly ubiquitous slim and fitness centers are making good business and are thronged by obese sections of the society. The more worrisome of this malady is that children are also getting overweight and their number is rising by the day.

Divorce rate is also very high in the United States. It ranges between 30 to 50 per cent depending upon the age group.  The imitative of getting or giving divorce stems both from the male and female partners. The divorce is a way of life and integral part of the social norm. However its implications and fallout is invariably disastrous. The separation proves to be costly as man divorcing the wife has to give huge sums of money as alimony. The understanding and mutual adjustment sometime becomes onerous and hang like an albatross around the neck.

But it has extremely negative and most harmful consequences for the young children who get divided. They fail to comprehend as to why their father and mother all of sudden stopped living together. And still they would wonder why they have to stay a week with mother and the next week with father. Their tender minds fail to understand this parting of the company of their parents and keep suffering from this trauma for the rest of their lives. Although when they grow up they follow the same tradition.

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