I tell myself it is not as bad as it seems...

(I'm two thirds complete with a new post, when upon after a few days of reflection the feeling just hit me to write this.  My other post will be next up.)


This is a tough time for America.  Right now.  This moment.  I profess to not understanding what my readers in Russia, or Cambodia or Laos go through.   No idea.  Every country has its own struggles.  But like you and how you feel about your own situation in your country, I’m sure our struggles in America right now are unique.

Living in America is living in the world’s largest reality show.   Something life Flavor Flav…”Flavor of Love”.   I fucking loved that show and I recommend to everyone to figure out a way to watch it.   It was sad watching semi respectable women slut themselves out for a chance to bed their way to marriage with Flavor Flav.  And I ate it up.   

Still, if I was the last man on Earth and lived in a cave after the apocalypse I’d be content watching that show.   What possessed women to act that way?

Well, America is in a reality show for the ages.  Someday 60 million Americans will have to explain why they voted for this Monster.  That is, why did they act the way they did?  (See above) He is entertaining.  He would make a great party guest and a cool neighbor. He doesn’t put on airs.  He talks like you and me.  But he’d be 100 times more popular now, which is all he’s ever wanted to be, if he’d simply lost. 

He’d be twitter’s biggest star. He’d be on every American news show and they’d all love him.   And he’d love them back.  He’d be America’s teddy bear.

But he didn’t lose folks.  He won.  We forgot why he won.  Because, America was simply desperate for something new and out of this world. The canned personalities of Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio didn’t appeal to folks.  Competence and Ability took a back, dark seat to desperation.  Or perhaps those 60 million saw a once in a lifetime chance to get what they wanted at the expense of CNN and all those “smart people” in America.   

But for everyday that China see’s America acting and behaving like some unmoored mental patient randomly screaming at passerby on Main Street,  how can it not by the minute feel more comfortable about how things are in the world?  Their worst fear was Hillary Clinton coming to China as President and giving a speech.   Now all it has to do is deal with an unpredictable lunatic.  How can 
China with its quiet streets and news devoid of controversy not feel as if it’s Man of the Hour?
Emboldened to chart its own course without fear of global scorn or condemnation?  Europe has already looked away, and long since accepted the fait accompli.  Australia can only shrug.   What are any of our allies to do when they see America acting like this?

To many people in the world, America has lost not the military authority but harder to rebuild the moral authority to lead.   And Trump himself has nearly lost it among his own people.  Xi Jinping can walk into the Oval Office of the American White House and bitch slap Trump.   And you know what?  If Trump were to react his generals would simply say “slow down”.   Such is the lack of moral authority of our President Trump.  That even when he has a right to retaliate America may simply yawn.

President Trump’s moral authority within America is so low that should China wish to challenge America in the South China Sea, or anywhere, Trump would probably have a hard time getting his wishes carried out.

I’ve already spoken more than once about what the average Chinese thinks when they first come to America and fail to see 100 story skyscrapers dotting the landscape like they do in Shanghai, or Shenzhen, or perhaps Guangzhou.   How can these people not think America is a country in decline?

The Chinese are the most impressionable people in the world.  When I was living in China during the First Gulf War I heard countless compliments from the Chinese about how 厉害 America was.  No one says that today.  I can’t recall the last time a Chinese in a club or factory floor ever said that to me.

The Chinese today simply are not impressed with America, in any shape or form, unless they’ve lived in both societies long enough to develop a sophisticated understanding of the differences.   And that means no one under 40 takes America seriously. 

And that should worry Germany, and France, and Brazil and Cuba.   Because when push comes to shove, if need be, within the next 5 years America will without reservation absolutely kick China’s ass.   But within 10 years?  I dunno. 

A summary Caesar gave when conquering the Gauls was simple.  It was around 51 BC.   And the Gauls, though considered modern day France today, stretched well over the Rhine.  It was an enormous power split into various Tribes.  Caesar simply condensed things into one sentence; “if we don’t strike them now, in the future they will be too powerful.” (Go listen to Hardcore History’s latest podcast)

Well, I’m here to tell you liberal democracies simply don’t think like that.
  
Obama will probably go down as a top 15 President, but Obama was a pussy when it came to foreign policy.  As OBL grew strong on Clinton’s Watch, China grew strong on Obama’s.  America sits and watches China slowly build one aircraft carrier after another.  Within a decade China will have 3 full battle groups.  Throw in America’s and that’s a hell of a traffic jam in the South China Sea.    

Remember, liberal minded leaders in China are pushed aside.  Only the Nationalistic leaders rise to the top.   Expect the trend to continue.  The blood of the Chinese People is up.  Egged on by many a one sided news broadcast and shrill newspaper article.   We may never see a true liberal Chinese leader in our lifetime.

Meanwhile American Democracy, albeit society  is facing its toughest test since at least the Vietnam War.  And if you want to say since 1860 you can probably win that argument as well.

2016 was the perfect storm for us.  A female candidate that was oh so qualified for office but was oh so unlikeable.  A Russian hack.  A nation where 90% of us do not feel a shared sense of purpose.  Because we do not partake in the spoils.  Free Trade has helped you buy a cheaper pair of socks, but has it increased your standard of living?

We are an upper middle class family.   Yet I have a car with 110,000 miles on it that I have no plans of trading in anytime soon because I can’t.    I honestly believe I’ve already reached the height of my earning potential and I still have two fucking decades until retirement.  

Americans are having difficult conversations every day, that on the face of it portray us as a deeply fragmented society, more quickly coming unraveled at the seams day by day.  We ask hard questions of each other.  Egged on ourselves by a leader who has excelled in bringing out the ugly side of America. Well-honed in laying bare for all to see the demons we all have inside us.  One would think that after 200 years we’d have figured out this experiment of democracy and be at ease with who we are?

Alas, we are not.  Today in America we are asking why white cops tend to kill black people(why don’t black people simply not run?)?

Why are there so many people getting sexually harassed in America today(why did the women keep it secret so long?)?

What is America doing in Niger(why all the fuss over a measly 4 casualties?)?

Hundreds of millions of Chinese read Chinese online newspapers and watch Chinese news programs that tell a story of American weakness and chaos.  Of ineptitude and unpredictability.  Of unreliability.  Nevermind these Chinese listeners or readers have probably never been to America, or if they have, have never lived in America or even spoken to Americans.  It is a perfect storm for China, too.

The Chinese People themselves feel no prodding to think the way they do about us.  It is the sum of a lifetime of indoctrination.  A perfect opportunity for China to illustrate the superiority of its system.   And they don’t have to be convinced anymore anyway.

While America undergoes its largest social upheaval in over a generation, the ironic thing is China doesn’t really have to try very hard to bend the narrative to see the conclusion it wants.   The Chinese People have already been raised to predict what the Narrative will say.   Just look at how empty that Atlanta or Phoenix or Los Angeles or Seattle skyline is!

China judges the power of its cities…of its nation….on the number of subways it has, the growing number of E-vehicles, and yeah the height of its buildings.  It doesn’t have time or bandwidth or a desire to think about anything else.  As I’ve said before somewhere in this blog, China simply does not judge its progress as a nation in the vein of social justice or increased empathy towards one another.  Nor in the ability of its people to simply drink tap water. And after a generation of listening to its leadership about China’s Destiny, more than a few believe China’s time is Now .  It is America circa 1898.  With Randolph and Hearst at the wheel.    Its capitalism an eerie reminder of America cum 1920’s.

These are uncertain times for America now. 

Meanwhile the Europeans have long stopped looking at America with a bemused look when they hear us talking about health care.   Who can blame Europe for giving up on us?  Too many of us in America are convinced the poor are lazy and well they deserve to be poor, and why should we give them “free” health care anyway?   Australia at times wishes they didn’t know us.  They see gun massacre after gun massacre and simply wonder “When will America wake the fuck up”?

The Western World tolerate us more than anything.  They pity us.  We're like the druggie that can't let go of the needle.  We know what our bad habits are.  We know how to solve them.   Instead, we'd rather spend more time explaining how "unique" our situation is rather then spending time solving our problems. 

We are even attacking the spouses and parents of dead soldiers.  Nothing is off limits.  It is out there for the world to see.  Because that’s how democracies are.   And right now America is the ugliest it has ever been.

China see’s these searing conversations we are having with ourselves on a daily basis and thinks it a sign of weakness. Shouldn’t we have tranquility and harmony by now?  Hell it has been over 200 year’s right?  What the Chinese don’t comprehend however is that like India, our democracy is strong enough to have these upheavals and still see the next sunrise.  This is who we are.   This is what democracies do.  They bitch! 

No country more than America reflects more on its weaknesses and cold sores for all the world to see.  It’s who we are.  It’s our human nature.  Our American Media make sure of it.  Many an American actually believe, thanks to the American Media, that America is quite possibly the worst place on the planet to live.   Only those of us who have lived abroad know otherwise.

But surely the Chinese understand “this day too shall pass”, right?  Right?

And about those ugly, awkward conversations we are having with ourselves today.  I’m here to tell you these conversations will continue for the next few years. 

So now I come, 2000 words in, to the point of this impromptu post;  these are conversations the Chinese themselves will never be able to have with each other.  So tightly is the lid of controversy screwed upon the teeming masses of Chinese Society today.  The conversations Americans are having today would literally rip apart the social cohesion of China in no time. 

Americans scream and move on.  A few lunatics even bring their guns to any demonstration they can find and beat their chests.  America’s institutions  are beat up.  The glean, the sheen of American Democracy has long since faded.  The Civil War, the Spanish American War, the Vietnam War have seen to that.   But yet there is no rust, just faded paint.

I feel sorry for societies that cannot have these brutal conversations with each other.  A society cannot succeed where there is no power or ability to reflect.  To improve and reform.  Hell, America does this every stinking day.  There seem to be no “Everything is alright” days in America recently.  Rather, just a very serious speed bump on our journey to that perfect society and justice for all the American Media seems to believe is our right to reach.

We will be stronger for this.  I am sure of it.  We as a nation will be even more aware of our failings, and to make ourselves better as such.  Right? 

But for the Chinese, where no reflection is allowed, let alone admission of societal failings, these are conversations beyond the horizon for any Chinese living today.   Women’s Rights?  Gay Rights?  Police Brutality?  Transparency in Government?  School Board meetings anyone? Zoning hearings?  I can only tell myself that all this upheaval and negativity and chaos while it makes my country look weak, will actually only make it stronger.   We as a Nation just need to let the smoke clear.

I’m confident America will be able to pick itself up off the mat.  I am not confident China will be able to do the same, should it be able to freely address the deficiencies of its own society today.   And that is really the difference between us and them.   I know my Society will be able to survive this.  As surely as I know China’s society would never be able to bear the strain of such upheaval.  

You see, it is not I nor any other laowai, nor any military weapon that keeps China down.  It is itself.  When the ability to openly discuss and debate real societal problems exists only until the Government says the problem no longer exists, then your country's social progress will remain stunted.  This habit makes me believe we as Americans are really not as bad off as others(including many of ourselves!) would have us believe. 

And just as much makes me realize it is not just tall buildings and Tesla's and shiny new subways that make a country truly desirable as a place to live and grow and maybe even prosper.   This is a contradiction only the Chinese themselves can square away.  It is the people that live there that must decide if tall buildings are enough. 

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