My fellow Americans, the state of our union is us. Lost in the pomp and circumstance of tonight’s State of the Union and the pageantry of Donald Trump’s speech before the United States Congress is the well-being of the everyday American. We are so busy focusing on politics and the media personalities who dominate our social conversation that we forget America is about “We the People”. So I rise today on behalf of us—the working people and the struggling masses—who are truly the lifeblood of our nation.
My interest is not to debate the current administration nor is my objective to endeavor in yet more partisan food fighting. My hope is to refocus the conversation on the working mother in Waterloo who is finding it harder and harder to feed her children. My aim is to highlight the struggles of a father in Wichita who wakes up each morning before the sun rises to work ten hours yet fears being unable to provide shelter for his family. It is easy to use the plight of others as political talking points and ideological cudgels, it would serve us well to be reminded that the statistics bandied about by pundits and politicians are us.
I ask you, are you better off today than you were a year ago? Are you better off today then you were eight years ago? If we take a step back from our political differences and the ways we declare wars on each other to defend our parties, we would realize that our nation stopped working for us a long time ago. But we are so caught up in bickering over separable grievances that we don’t realize a vice is tightening on all of us irrespective of our differences. I’m here to report to you, my fellow Americans, that the State of Our Union is divided.
With each passing year and each successive generation, we find ourselves getting more and more splintered. Factionalism is eating away at the fabric of our nation—all but a few of us are suffering for it. The only people who thrive in this age of antagonism and stoked animosity are the very people who are pouring kerosene on the fire that is engulfing our country and the world by extension. Demagogues and firebrands whisper hostility into our souls only to sit back and get rewarded for creating public acrimony. Sadly, these are the same people we keep voting for and hoping will lead us out of the wilderness.
So tonight, as you are watching Donald Trump give the State of the Union and his Democrat counterpart, Joe Kennedy, give a rebuttal, I want you to ask yourself this one important thing. Do either of them know your hardships? Do either man—born into wealth and influence—know what it is like to worry about keeping up with the rent or negotiating between a need and a necessity? We are so busy looking up at the life and lifestyles of the rich and famous that we are overlooking the toils and the tribulations of people just like us. We bow to our idols as we step over the least among us.
I write this from a perspective of dual realities. Not too long ago, I lived a life of upper-middle life comforts while making six figures as a high-priced consultant. I know from experience that even people who make a hundred thousand or more are not immune to the realities of living paycheck to paycheck. Almost all of us are but a few missed paychecks from falling into the abyss of homelessness and hopelessness. That too became my reality, I lost my job in 2014 and for almost two years my reality became missions and soup kitchens.
I knew hardship while I was sleeping on 800 thread count sheets, I also knew hardship when I was sleeping on concretes. I say this in the spirit of solidarity; from people mired below the poverty line to white collar workers—unless you are a billionaire or have the influence to dictate policies—we are all in this together. Our fates are intertwined; as a family struggles in the South Side of Chicago, eventually families in the affluent parts of town will feel the heat of insolvency and economic anxieties too.
It does not have to be this way. Our incessant focus on politics is preventing us from realizing the insidious nature of the monetary and fiscal policies that are being driven and dictated by a global oligarchy. Irrespective of their flaws, the founders of this nation intended for “We the People” to be the drivers of the engine that is Americana. Instead, we are being driven into the gutters of political nihilism and societal iniquities. Identity and ideology are blinding us to the ocean of inequality from which most of society's ills flow from. Click To Tweet The media-politico class focus on social justice to divert our attention from the economic injustices that are hobbling most Americans irrespective of our differences.
My fellow Americans, it is high time that we stop being manipulated emotionally by charlatans who care not an iota about us. “Hope and change” and “make America great again” are nothing but meaningless slogans created by well-to-do political consultants and Madison Avenue marketers meant to feed us the empty calories of partisanship and the sugar high of zealotry. Fixating on political idolatry is leading us closer to equality by way of destitution; a cult of personality will one day birth a society of despotism.
Before that day arrives, let us make it our purpose to realize our connective struggles so that we can fight for our collective aspirations. If we want justice, it has to be inclusive because fighting for our individual rights without standing up for the rights of all only leads to marginalization and self-nullification. Click To TweetChange will not not come by way of another politician nor will we make progress as a people by waiting for a political savior—change will only come when we realize that we are in this together and; we can only advance justice by standing in unity. E pluribus unum; we are many people who are one in the struggle. #SOTP
To succeed in politics, one must fail humanity::
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Check out the Ghion Cast below where I discuss how we can empower ourselves and come together as one people instead of depending on the rich and famous to lead us out of the wilderness.
Check out the Ghion Cast below where I discuss the alternative of the future that awaits us. I am not an advocate of revolutions, I advocate we empower ourselves by building up our communities because justice is not birthed by way of bullets and bloodshed.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.