Superman on TV in the 1950’s began with a call for Truth, Justice and the American Way. We understood truth. We had learned George Washington never told a lie. Maybe we might fib a little but lie was a big thing and not to be treated lightly. If caught lying a punishment was expected and accepted.
Justice was less clear. We understood that treating people equally, fairly and expecting others to treat us the same was the goal. Still injustice was evident in many ways. Was it just that my brothers and I had to be home by nine when some of our friends could stay out later? Johnny got an A and I got a B+ in English but I knew I studied more. It just didn’t seem fair at 12 years old. I really liked Cathy but Danny asked her out first so I was left out. These were the minor acts seen as injustice when we were young. Later years saw promotions and pay raises we thought we deserved going to others. We realized that some people had more than us, more money, bigger houses, newer cars and the list goes on. These were some of what we perceived as injustices. Realizing there are those who were much better off than us wasn’t just seen as an injustice but it made some of us angry, very angry. When injustice relating to ethnicity, race, religion, etc occurred those were different. We needed to stand up and speak out but many times we didn’t. Perhaps we react stronger when it’s personal, me first. That’s not justice that selfishness.
I don’t know that I can define the American Way. I am reminded of the decision by the US Supreme Court on pornography. The ruling went something like this, we can’t define it but we know it when we see it. That’s how the American Way is perceived by me. We are willing to help others to defend people who have lost their home or country. We believe in helping others, a decent job, middle class and that our children should be able to pick up where their parents left off and more, much more. We certainly haven’t lived up to this as a country at times. For us as individuals we believe in freedom, certain rights and privileges. One of these is the right to vote which is the most neglected right by us as individuals.
Have we lost our way, our American way? A Harry Chaplin song has words to the effect, “they gave me their morality, then changed the rules they set for me.” If so then I reject much of that change, the new rules. We need a common perception of the American Way. We all look out for number one but that shouldn’t prevent us from helping others. We have our opinions but that shouldn’t stop us from listening to others and maybe learning or teaching something. Public education has been a part of America from the early colonial period. Why now do we search for alternatives rather than fixing it where needed. Why do we accept elected leaders who support large corporations and the rich to the detriment of the majority. We allow the haves to blame the have-nots. If we had more ambition we could get better jobs. If we ate better and exercised we would be healthier and not need health insurance. Really, what part of those words is the American way? We used to believe in ourselves, were willing to help others, believed that our government worked to make life better for all. We believed in the underdog. That’s the American way not millionaires and billionaires increasing their wealth and power at the expense of the majority.
The American way places a trust in the majority to act to help us all. The best way to insure that is at the ballot box by voting and electing the best people. The ballot box is our superperson who is only working 50% of the time. I guess superman is simply tired.