By Andrew L. Pate, Jr.
Before an illness can be cured, its symptoms must be correctly diagnosed. This holds for social as well as individual ailments.
Here, we wish to identify six dysfunctional arenas in the United States and examine them briefly under three headings: Racism and Elitism; Criminality and Violence; Suicide and Social Isolation. There are, of course, other ways to discuss our major societal problems, but these headings cover a broad spectrum of the issues involved.
I. Criminality and Violence
Many Americans believe that violent crimes have increased dramatically in recent years. They are correct. While the total number of crimes committed annually in the U.S. has fallen, the number of murders has increased dramatically. As Fox News reported early this year, based on a study of 34 cities, there were 1200 additional U.S. killings in 2020 over 2019. In Chicago alone, murders increased by 56%, reporting 481 in 2019 and 748 in 2020. This increase does not appear to have been directly related to the Covid-19 pandemic during which people were not socializing as much.; but whatever the major causes, the increase in murders is alarming. Too many Americans have been mentally ill enough to kill.
II - Racism and Elitism
One needs only to read the daily headlines to note that blatant racism in America has risen its ugly head anew, elevating its divisive nature to a more visible and dangerous height. The numerous rallies for Black Lives Matter, conflicting debates on whether statues of revered Americans who were slave owners should be removed, widespread disagreement over Roe vs. Wade and abortion, these and other issues have significantly deepened and widened the chasm between people of color and others, mostly White Anglos. And this division has carried over and been pointedly aimed at the huge influx of immigrants on our southern border.
Politics thus far in the 21st century have featured the growing division among our varied of races, nationalities and differing religious The resulting conflicts are so sharp they signal an indefinite future.
Elitism, the superiority of wealth and education flaunted by many of our wealthiest has alienated countless numbers of our middle and lower class citizens. The well-educated themselves have come to resent other Americans, who, they believe, have not done their homework, even at a basic and simple level. And many of the wealthiest among us single out "the free loaders" for their ridicule and condemnation. Thus, widespread resentments across the various classes exist, further magnifying the dangers inherent in our divisions.
III Suicides and Social Isolation
Despite America's growing population and coveted high standard of living, suicides and isolation for many have also risen sharply. Underpaid workers and individuals without a college education feel left out, with no one speaking up on their behalf.
The Center for Disease Control has recently published research showing a dramatic 25% increase in suicide rates since 1999. Half of all U.S. states experienced an increase of more than 30%.
The research also makes clear that in more than half of these suicides, the individuals were not diagnosed with a mental health condition. It’s a hidden problem for many people.
The evidence of serious illnesses in our society should disturb every American. The facts alone tell us that he USA may already be in grievous decline.
If, indeed, our democracy is at stake, as some experts claim, curative steps must be taken, and soon.
No one has all the answers. But every concerned citizen can support the solutiohey believe may be the most effective. Better salaries for underpaid workers; Reparations of the blacks and other victims of slavery. A tightening of our gun-control laws. Better social services for the isolated and left-behind. Strong and effective leadership by our politicians, scientists and spiritual leaders. These are but a few of the proposals being thrown around as possible cures for what ails us.
One curative response we think within our reach is simple and clear: our societal ills call for a unified response by the American people.
Let us never say, "No, we can't." Let us be a Great America.
20 May 2021