I’ve thought a lot lately about the hatred we see in our country.  Republicans vs. Democrats, religious groups vs. non-religious groups, men vs. women, and so much more.  We also see an overabundance of people protecting their rights, whether or not they impinge on my rights.  We have become a people who expect things to come to us without costing us anything, looking for ways to have others pay our way.

When our parents/grandparents/great-grandparents came to this country, they assimilated into the American culture. They learned to speak English, and they worked hard to be able to afford “the American Dream.” When a neighbor was in trouble, they stepped up to help. They knew their neighbors, and if another’s child misbehaved, they felt perfectly free to discipline them. And the child’s parents thanked them for doing so. That is what the American Dream is…having the opportunity to prosper, and to raise a family.

Why is it now that most people don’t know their neighbors?  I watch House Hunters and other similar shows, and one of the things that most people say when looking at their back yard is, “I’ll have to put up a fence…we need privacy.”  What goes on in their backyards that they don’t want other people to see?  Nude sunbathing?? I live in a condo, and I don’t know most of my neighbors, and the ones I do know, I only know enough to say hello to. That wasn’t the case when I was growing up.  I knew all of our neighbors, and I played with all of the kids.  We didn’t have play dates because we just went over to someone’s house or they came to our house.  We were always playing outside…a bunch of kids would get together for baseball, or just walking through the forest. There was always something to do. Someone always shoveled the widow’s driveway and we didn’t expect money for it.  It was just something we did.

We lost a lot when we lost the sense of community.  Because I think community was the American Dream. We worked together to help each other, not to hurt each other.  We didn’t accuse people falsely just to make my side look better. Our political system worked well for over 200 years. But as we lose the American Dream, we are more interested in working against each other than together.  More interested in hurting our opponents rather than helping them succeed.  More interested in protecting ourself rather than protecting our way of life.

We now spend millions of dollars in all aspects of our economy to provide our documents into other languages, both government and private sector.  We create regulations that cost businesses lots of money to prove they have done this or that. They may already have been doing all those things, but now we have to prove it, and that costs money.  We  lost a lot when we stopped knowing our neighbors.  We lost trust and we lost a feeling of safety. And that is a big part of why we see all the hatred.