Chapter 1: The Real Americans and the Real America
In my faith we have temples, and they are kept spotless and clean. The only place more sacred than the temple is your own home, and your home is to be kept just as clean and in order. Now, I don't mean, "Get out the vacuum, kids!" clean. I mean the kind of clean that keeps something sacred.
In the Real America, the most sacred place on earth is your home, and your home is a refuge. It's a shelter. In the Real America your home is the center of your universe and the center of your home is the dinner table, the most important piece of furniture you have. It doesn't have to be fancy -- it just has to be comfortable, so that everybody likes to be in that room and around that table.
In the Real America we will all be very busy -- just as we are now -- but we'll also be busy doing other people's work, not just our own. We'll be busy helping people -- and that doesn't have to mean strangers. That also means we'll help our kids, we'll spend time listening to them, talking to them -- just being with them.
In the Real America, we count on the members of our extended family. Our families provide us with an endless supply of hope, love and joy. It doesn't necessarily always happen now, but in the Real America, our greatest support will come from the family and our extended families.
In the Real America, I will be able to change. I will know I can conquer my past and be the person I want to be. We can become better people, and our families will continue to give us support.
In today's America you can do this, but many of us no longer believe it's possible. Ten years ago I was a bitter, hopeless alcoholic who hated people. In a few short years filled with difficulty, but mainly joy, I changed. I am happy now, hopeful, sober, and I only dislike people for really valid reasons. This book is not a self-help book, but by the end of it you will, once again, believe that you can change the world, your business, your family and yourself.
I have found there are four steps to change:
1. You must want it.
2. You must believe it.
3. You must live it.
4. You will become it.
If you read on from here you already want it. Over the coming pages we will focus on the second point. Not only will you believe in the Real America, you will believe that we deserve it and that we can achieve it.
The United States is still a capitalist society, but capitalism in the Real America will be an enlightened way to wealth. Sure, some people will always try to make a buck by squeezing the little people, but in the Real America, I'll be able to make more money -- I'll be able to make more of a profit -- by treating employees with dignity and giving them access to non-governmental health care and paying them what they deserve. In the Real America, the employee will be a partner and we'll all enrich one another.
In the Real America our current plastic politicians will be replaced by the more genuine, lifelike and human robots in Disney's Hall of Presidents. Actually, partisan politics is a tough topic to tackle, but we will, starting with chapter 4 -- Everything You Need to Know About Partisan Politics.
Basically, Real Politics in this better America will be based on principle not policy: Real Ethics, Real Values, Real Integrity. As Real Americans, we will not expect to agree with everything a certain politician says, but we will be able to demand that politicians always say what they mean and mean what they say. The Real American Politician will look us in the eyes and say, "Look, Jack, you may completely disagree with me on this one issue, but here are these eight other issues on which we do agree. And more important, we agree on principles. And that's just the way it is. If you can vote for me, great. If not, I understand 'cause I don't need this job badly enough to lie to you or myself."
Martin Luther King's dream will come true in the Real America: a colorblind society -- but without political correctness. Unfortunately, King's dream has been perverted and twisted by so many, white and black alike, that it is barely recognizable today. In the Real America, we will know that white men aren't racist; one man can be racist. Black men aren't lazy; one man can be lazy and racism is not an American problem, it's a human problem.
The Real America is the America we all saw on the evening of September 11 and in the days and weeks that followed, but without violence, without sorrow, without mourning. It is an America where the question "How are you?" is sincerely asked, and the answer is heard with real concern.
The Real America is a place in our hearts. It's authentic. It's a place we remember. And it's a place we can live in today.
But there are forces keeping us from being the Real Americans and living in the Real America: Now, I'm not one of those people pointing a finger at Hollywood or blaming political correctness or pointing the finger at television or blaming music, because it's not just that.
But it is just that. It's all of that...and one thing more.
The most insidious force keeping us from being the Real Americans is ourselves.
A Different Background Noise
You see, most Real Americans don't even know that they are the Real Americans. They've been trapped in a box that other people built for them, and they think that box is real. They have no idea that it's all a delusion.
It's amazing. David Copperfield couldn't pull this off, and he hooked up with Claudia Schiffer.
So what's the trick? What's the sleight-of-hand?
Somehow, the background noise has changed on us.
Somehow most Americans have been convinced that we don't have the heart we do, that we don't have the power we do. As individuals or a group, this has happened subtly.
When we were kids, we had the Leave It to Beaver generation; we had Gilligan's Island. I remember watching that show later in life and thinking, "What a stupid show." But I continued to watch it and laugh with it. Mind you -- with it, not at it. I guess because it was pure.
I mean, there was absolutely nothing really offensive or even challenging about watching Gilligan's Island, except perhaps the class warfare between Lovey Howell and Mary Ann, and maybe the hat-slapping abuse on the part of the Skipper perpetrated on Gilligan.
But that was the world we lived in. That was our background noise: soft and silly. Sex was implied in a white, sequined gown, and violence came only in the shape of the Skipper's hat.
Then, when I was growing up in the 1970s, there was a show that almost didn't make it on television: Three's Company. Why? Because Jack Tripper lived with two women -- and there wasn't even anything going on! But still there were many who thought it was offensive. That's how quiet the background noise was back then. Even Three's Company seemed loud.
People will always say, "Look at television today! Look what's happening with television! This is an outrage! This is destroying the fabric of our country!"
No, it's not.
They can put Three's Company on, they can put Friends on, they can put anything on -- name the most offensive television show that comes to mind -- how about The Sopranos -- they could have put that on in our Leave It to Beaver world, and it wouldn't have destroyed the fabric of the Cleaver family. Because the Cleavers wouldn't have embraced it. In fact, they wouldn't have even tolerated it, and they certainly wouldn't have invited Tony Soprano into their home at 9:00 P.M. on a Sunday night.
Ward Cleaver is not going to go out to the Bada Bing Club to do blow off a hooker's belly just because he watched one TV show!
But what happened to us between Leave It to Beaver and The Sopranos is that more of the background noise changed.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.