A few days ago, I spoke to my longtime student and friend Leonid Makaron. He reminded me that soon after the turn of the century, I told him that America was on the decline. It wasn’t so obvious then, but since the financial crisis that sparked The Great Recession, it has been quite evident. The soaring rates of depression, epidemic of substance abuse, frantic purchasing of firearms and never-ending shooting incidents, and now the coronavirus disease and the anti-racism protests are all links in the chain of America’s decline.
Makaron asked me how I knew then that America was declining. I told him that on one hand, it’s a natural process, but on the other hand, it is not set in stone; it can be reversed. All ego-based systems go through the same cycle. They begin with rapid growth, great achievements, increasing pride, hubris, growing internal alienation, social disintegration, and finally, demise.
America is going through the same process. But because America is such a dominant figure on the international arena, the process it is going through affects the whole world. It has already been through all the stages of growth, and it is well into the decline. Since the turn of the century, the process of America’s social decline has become increasingly evident and has been growing at a growing speed. The violent protests, looting and shooting, anarchist elements that tear cities apart—yet encounter little resistance from law-enforcement—indicate a rapid deterioration. It feels like America is racing toward the end of its lifecycle.
But if there was no hope, I wouldn’t be writing about it. I believe that America can still save itself, and spare itself and all of us, tremendous agony. Today we know why ego-based empires sink. We know that reality is an integral whole. As a result, any part that does not take all of reality into account acts like a cancerous cell, grows by exploiting its surroundings, and finally brings on itself its own demise. The ego-based empires of the past grew like tumors and died like tumors. America evolved to greatness in the same way, but it is not dead yet. As long as people can communicate, they can connect. If they connect, they will shift from an ego-based society into an integral society that cares for all its members equally and serves as an example for the rest of the world, which currently runs solely on the ego-based model.
Being the most dominant nation on Earth, such a shift in America would infuse the whole world with a new spirit. It will legitimize such values as giving, caring, and accountability, and other countries will follow suit.
It is said that when Wall Street sneezes, the rest of the stock markets in the world catch a cold. The same is true for social values. The American materialism and consumerism have taken the world by storm. Now it is time to administer the antidote. The ego-based values that have brought America to greatness are now bringing on its demise, as they are doing to the rest of the world. But if America shifts direction, so will everyone else.
To do that, America must do what America does best: campaign for caring. The federal government, state governments, and local authorities must all partake in a comprehensive effort to promote mutual responsibility and the importance of placing the American society as a whole above the factions in it. America has much to be proud of. The fact that people can protest so openly is by itself a testimony to the openness of American society and its ability to accept diversity. In a truly racist country, you wouldn’t be able to talk about racism; you’d be locked away for doing so.
Today, the resilience of the American society is being tested. If each faction takes its own direction, this great society will fall apart. Now it’s time to reinforce the collective American identity, which will give the country the structural fortitude to weather the stormy times ahead.
The country will have to tend to the tens of millions who have no income and will have no income going forward. It will have to teach them how to become “workers for society,” where they dedicate their time to strengthen the unity of the nation above all colors, races, and faiths. And while people who have jobs see to the country’s sustenance, those currently jobless will see to the country’s happiness. If carried out, it will be the greatest ever accomplishment in the history of humanity. It will usher the world into a new era, when nations and countries cater to each other’s needs rather than venture to control them, and the whole planet will prosper and thrive as it truly can.