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The American Dream Hangs in the Balance as Our Sense of Security and Peace is Shattered: Most Expect ‘Occasional Acts of Terrorism’ in the Future | Pew Research Center for the People and the Press

A national study released this week tracks American public opinion, documenting our feelings and fears about violence and terrorism.  We do not feel safe and we are trusting one another less.  Symbolically and physically we want to close the borders.  We can choose to believe that we must all feel this way or we can redefine who we are in a way that makes us stronger.  It depends who “we” are.

“Last week’s bombings at the Boston Marathon attracted broad public interest: 63% of Americans say they followed the story very closely, among the highest interest in any news story in the past decade.” The Pew Foundation study reflects the sad truth that our collective American perception of civil society is changing.  Perhaps this time we are not only changing but morphing.   If we learn to accept and assimilate what is different then we can become a new America.  But who is doing the learning and who is becoming remains to be seen in an America that seems to be digressing to Michael’s Harrington’t bifurcated America.  Without a positive vision  of the future there cannot be a collective “we” to embrace it nor a collective image of an America we can all love and want to preserve.

If we are going to survive as a nation some of us will have to loosen our grip on the past so that we can all collectively embrace the future.  But today’s media events and philanthropic facts are not hopeful.

The study sounds an eerie warning that we are fundamentally changing. We seem to be resigned to constant fear and violence.  “We” seem  to be unable to take refuge in “our” symbolic “community psychological blanket” because we have become afraid of one another.  But who is this “we” and who is “the other”? There are so many of us “perceiving” from so many directions and backgrounds that a vision of a common America now seems more distant than ever.  Public opinion seems to be increasingly shaped not by what we see but what we believe.

Who are we?  Who are we becoming?  Who have we been?   What have we become?

How do we take stock of all that is happening around us and start a sensible conversation about what is wrong and how to fix it?  Social media has made a global conversation more possible but, perhaps ironically, local communion now seems more difficult and a sense of “we” or community seems increasingly vapid, vacuous and devoid of anima–tasteless, unintelligible and dispirited.  The roaring 20s, rocking 50s and the tumultuous 60s seem distant now …  We seem to be drifting into this millennium without  a compass.

American identity is changing and the center or the “typical” or “average” America seems to have disappeared.  Not only is our political discourse moved to the extremes, but our American identity seems to have morphed into fragments–dispersed among a cacophony of interests, groups and pervasive xenophobia which feed public reaction and drown out reason.  Immigration, good health and guns strangle our ability to form a consensus and find our way into this new millennium.

America is drifting but no one seems to know the direction which we are moving towards.  The collective and cumulative acts of public violence and the thousands of young Americans coming back from violent, and confusing, foreign wars does not bode well for our present or future…

The baby boom babies are now trading in their infancy diapers and lack of patience for yet another bout of rebelliousness that depends on their increasingly irrelevant 60s ideology undergirded by optimism that is now increasingly undermined by myopia and their incontinent mortality.  The ultimate victory for this now passing generation may be the imminent legalization of marijuana as a palliative reward to sustain their now eminent twilight.  Event in their collective final curtain call they can find solace in their seemingly Pyrrhic victory to medicate once again when confronted with the oncoming abyss we have for generations now called modernity and social change.

The Great Generation of past “moral” wars has left us and the Baby Boomers are now in the drivers seat.  But where are they taking us? They were the flower children and the great protesting worriers who tore down all the sacred cows and left us in a pragmatic and hedonistic middle without manners, caution or respect … Our cultural fabric seems incapable of tying together the many immigrant currents that now makeup the American mosaic.  We are the world  and the newcomers seem as desperate and dislocated as the rural kids who seemingly grow up in happy, stable, homogenous America only to turn against it in our theaters, our elementary schools and our federal buildings.

The middle is gone and shows little evidence of returning…  The 1% seem to have somehow held on to a greater percent of the nation’s wealth, while an increasing number of American families struggle with uncertainty and economic stagnation or, worse, slip back.   This recession, the ongoing local and internationally motivated terrorist and gun violence is also shaking our very foundations.

Civil liberties, political movements, and the American sense of who we are, how well we are doing and where we are going all seem increasingly clouded by an ongoing malaise.   We get nervous by what we see and need to look closer and more often to calm our nerves.  We are afraid at home and seem to need to go oversees to die in wars that have a quiet beginning and seemingly no end.  We cannot get the public spectacle out of our mind’s eye. A malaise that seems to be the product of public violence and media competition.   We live under a perpetual tempest in a proverbial psychological tea pot of public attention cannibalism in an ever hurried frenzy over delivering pictures and impressions.  The relatively few hold onto control of the public megaphone and preach to an increasingly disappearing no longer hegemonic nor numerous “majority”.  With moral certitude and  economic hubris they wield a shiny and expensive, now digital and omnipresent, printing press that constantly showers us with a practical if simply public truth.  They create, perpetuate and feed the seemingly insatiable public consumption we all have for news we need to calm our curiosity and nerves…  The world has become so complex that we need to  be numbed but the glare of the media industry will not let us rest.  The price we pay seems to be pessimism. America is ceasing to be optimistic and welcoming… It is unsettled, perhaps worried and content to close the door on our no longer widely shared dreams of exceptionalism, manifest destiny and international policeman.  Are we trading in our moral courage for a veneer of contentment?

At last we may look to the facts and find refuge in Pew’s enlightenment through facts and figures that may light the way…  What else can we do?  That depends on who we really are …  and who we are is up to all of us to define…  We must confront the ugly facts but we can confront them while grasping a larger and more unifying truth.  What that truth is remains to be seen.  In the meantime, let’s keep on working on it together.

Keep learning and thinking together here at the Policy ThinkShop ….

The Pew article and a link follow:

“Last week’s bombings at the Boston Marathon attracted broad public interest: 63% of Americans say they followed the story very closely, among the highest interest in any news story in the past decade. And the bombings drew far more public attention than any terrorist event since Sept. 11, 2001, which 78% reported following very closely in mid-October of that year.”

PP_13.04.22_futureTerrorism-300

“While the Boston bombings riveted most Americans, the incident appeared to confirm the public’s long-held belief that occasional terrorist acts are to be expected. Over the past decade, majorities have consistently said that “occasional acts of terrorism in the U.S. will be part of life in the future.” This sentiment has spiked to 75% in the wake of the Boston bombings from 64% a year ago and now matches the previous high of 74% in 2003.”

via Most Expect ‘Occasional Acts of Terrorism’ in the Future | Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

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Filed under: Blogosphere, Community Tragedy, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Culture Think, Death and Dying, Mass Media and Public Opinion, News, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, Political Violence, Pundits, social protests, symbolic uses of politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Pew Hispanic Center – Chronicling Latinos Diverse Experiences in a Changing America

The largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States has come to a standstill. After four decades that brought 12 million current immigrants—more than half of whom came illegally—the net migration flow from Mexico to the U.S. has stopped and may have reversed. The standstill appears to result from the weakened U.S. job market, heightened border enforcement, a rise in deportations, the growing dangers associated with illegal border crossings, and changing economic and demographic conditions in Mexico.

PH_12.04.23a_Mexican-Population-in-US

via Pew Hispanic Center – Chronicling Latinos Diverse Experiences in a Changing America.

Filed under: Blogosphere, Culture Think, Demographic Change, Discrimination, Election 2012, Immigration, Job Sector, News, Unemployment, WeSeeReason, , ,

Faith on the Move – Pew Research Center

An estimated 214 million people — about 3% of the world’s population — have migrated across international borders as of 2010. While the percentage may seem small, if the migrants were counted as one nation, they would constitute the fifth most populous country in the world, just behind Indonesia and ahead of Brazil.

Nearly half of these migrants (49%) are Christians, and the top country of origin has been Mexico, followed by Russia and the Ukraine where borders changed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The second-largest group of migrants are Muslims (27%), among whom the largest share has come from the Palestinian territories, followed by Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.

MORE via Faith on the Move – Pew Research Center.

Filed under: Blogosphere, Culture Think, faith-based, Immigration, News, Religious freedom, WeSeeReason, ,

U.S. Drug Agents Launder Profits of Mexican Cartels – NYTimes.com

Undercover American narcotics agents have laundered or smuggled millions of dollars in drug proceeds as part of Washington’s expanding role in Mexico’s fight against drug cartels, according to current and …

MORE via U.S. Drug Agents Launder Profits of Mexican Cartels – NYTimes.com.

Filed under: Banks, Blogosphere, Crimes and Misdemeanors, News, political corruption, political plots, WeSeeReason, , , , ,

The Price of Intolerance – NYTimes.com

It’s early yet for a full accounting of the economic damage Alabama has done to itself with its radical new immigration …

MORE via The Price of Intolerance – NYTimes.com.

Filed under: Blogosphere, Culture Think, Discrimination, Economic Recession, Election 2012, ethnicity in politics, ideology, Immigration, Intolerance, Mass Media and Public Opinion, News, regulations, symbolic uses of politics, WeSeeReason, ,

Halt Is Sought to Manchester, N.H., Refugee Resettlement – NYTimes.com

This city has long been a resettlement site for refugees, sent here by the State Department for a chance at a better life. More than 60 languages are spoken in the school system, with Somalis, Sudanese, Iraqis and other recent arrivals mixing with

via Halt Is Sought to Manchester, N.H., Refugee Resettlement – NYTimes.com.

Filed under: Blogosphere, ethnicity in politics, Immigration, News, Political Economy, Public Policy, WeSeeReason, ,

Beyond 2012 Field, Nuanced G.O.P. Views on Immigrants – NYTimes.com

Representative Tim Griffin, a Republican freshman from Arkansas with a university in his district, supports legislation that would make it easier for foreign math and science professionals to get legal …

MORE via Beyond 2012 Field, Nuanced G.O.P. Views on Immigrants – NYTimes.com.

Filed under: Blogosphere, Demographic Change, Discrimination, Immigration, Intolerance, Job Sector, Latinos, Mass Media and Public Opinion, News, Public Policy, Racism, WeSeeReason, ,

Reaction to Alabama immigration ruling hints at battles to come – latimes.com

A federal appeals court temporarily blocked portions of the law, even as it upheld others.

Blocked: The requirement that public schools check students’ immigration status; and a provision that would let authorities file misdemeanor charges against immigrants caught without documents proving …

MORE via Reaction to Alabama immigration ruling hints at battles to come – latimes.com.

Filed under: Blogosphere, Discrimination, Immigration, Latinos, Mass Media and Public Opinion, News, Public Policy, Racism, Social Media, WeSeeReason, , ,

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