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National Therapy

September 24, 2013

A 12-Step Program for Restoring Trust in the Government, Repairing the Country’s Image, and Rebuilding the American Dream.


1)      Admit our Mistakes

Shame on us, America. We’ve let party politics and special interest groups corrupt the process of government; we’ve waged illegal and unnecessary wars; we’ve lied to our own people; we’ve withheld aid and imprisoned innocent people… the list goes on. In short, we’ve lost faith in the government. We’ve lost faith in ourselves. And until we admit it, the problems are only going to get worse.

Confession, however, is cathartic; just ask a Catholic. It feels good to own up to our mistakes. And only through admitting our fallibility can we take the next step.


2)      Accept Blame without Placing Blame

We’ve become a nation of litigators, and it’s manifesting as a cultural inability to accept blame without shifting it onto someone else. This is painfully clear in the political realm, where blaming the other party for any and all perceived problems has become the national norm.

Only by fully accepting that we, as Americans, are a part of the problem, can we become a part of the solution. We must realize that shifting blame onto a group we don’t consider ourselves part of doesn’t absolve us of guilt or mitigate the problem. If we are truly to be an indivisible nation, we have to stop fighting amongst ourselves.


3)      Apologize

It sounds so easy. But, as the bullied understand, an insincere apology is as hurtful and damaging as a physical blow. Especially when we know the bully intends to land another as soon as the principal is out of sight. True apologies require humility.

America, we can’t move on to step 4 until we are able to apologize sincerely and humbly for the brutality and hypocrisy we’ve visited upon the world.


4)      Forgive Ourselves

Do you know why it’s so important to apologize first? An insincere apology coupled with forgiveness is a recipe for disaster. It’s a green light for further bullying. It’s a golden ticket towards national narcissism.

But coming from a place of humility, self-forgiveness is absolutely essential.


5)      Feel Lost and Confused

Okay, America. We’ve admitted our mistakes and accepted the blame. We’ve apologized and forgiven ourselves. What now? It’s clear we can’t go back to the cutthroat ways of Capitalism and Manifest Destiny. But we don’t know anything else. We’re lost and confused.

This is a tender time. It would be so easy to pick up the pieces and reassemble them in their former shape. Habits tend to be self-perpetuating. And how does a nation delve into the unknown in any case?


6)      Want to do Better

This must sound self-obvious and simplistic, but it’s an important step. We don’t have to know how to do better as long as we want to do better. America has long found a way to materialize its dreams. It’s simply time to imagine better ones.


Steps 7-12: To Be Divulged when the Time is Ripe

To fully appreciate the second half of the program, the first half must be completed collectively and publicly. Without being in the space of humility and forgiveness created by steps 1-6, steps 7-12 won’t make sense and may in fact alienate us from performing the first half of the program. It’s not enough to intellectualize: we have to do the work!


From → Rants

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