Published on
the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

The 'Dubya' in All of Us

Donald M. Mihaloew

Until now, it has been easy criticizing George "Dubya" Bush, for he, and his people, has made a debacle of their administration. Criticizing him as president has been an attractive alternative to looking at us as citizens. For few of us would want to admit that any of this administration's dishonesty and incompetence would reside in us as well.

Though still wealthy and strong, America is in decline. It has moved beyond mere wealth acquisition and comfort seeking into a fear-based attitude that requires satiation. It's as though cornering personal and corporate markets has become the acceptable norm, where our necessities need to be luxurious and our luxuries necessary.

No longer is it only an economic issue; but now has become a psychosocial matter giving way to a craving that, in turn, always brings on decadence. It's not about material any more; it's about mindset. It raises the question of just how much is enough and can be defined as "a little more than I had yesterday."

When will it end? If it doesn't, we probably will. Are we there already? Why is the American dream at stake? Precisely because it wasn't a bona fide dream in the first place but rather a fantasy vision based in a sense of insecure scarcity and manifested in a craving, manipulative push for everyone to "get theirs," otherwise known as greed.

And greed comes directly from believing there isn't enough, as though America isn't rich enough.

Why have we criticized Bush and his entire entourage? The seeds of decay, now fully evident in a pitifully failed and pernicious administration in D.C., are now showing up in an apparently failed society in the rest of America as well. Note the banking industry as only one example. But no one ambitious person or group can be successful in any endeavor at any time without tacit, though cryptic, agreement and co-operation from the general populace.

The question here is: Is this administration simply a manifested excess of what the overall population secretly desires? If possibly so, each of us has to look deeply in ourselves to find the answer to this inevitable, near sudden collapse of the American lifestyle. The issue is too complex for any single factor to be suspect, but nothing will change unless we look inward before outward.

This kind of introspection has not been nor will it ever come from Dubya. We have possibly all been co-conspirators and silent partners with this quasi-government, not conservative in philosophy, but rather narcissistic. Even if you did not vote for him, we are all still somewhat responsible for allowing the baseness of this regime to rise to the top of the vessel that once contained all the necessary elements of sustainability.


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This sustainability is all but gone now and will take decades to redevelop. This redevelopment will not come only from any newly elected president or Congress, nor should it. For while competent leadership is essential, each of us must re-examine our values and begin choosing to live in a manner that befits continued mutual respect for other people, nations and for our total planet.

What is the Dubya that exists in all of us? Perhaps it stands for Wanton, maybe even Wasteful, and maybe even just plain Wrong. It could stand for Waking Up, or being Watchful, or Wrestling honestly with ourselves and others in respectful dialogue. George "W" Bush needs to but won't see the "W's" that still exist in others who care to change a debilitative life style into something that allows for a Willingness to examine values, a Widening of perspective, and a Welcoming of a commitment to Wellness.

Dubya, and the Dubya in all of us, needs a fuller appreciation of what life in this country could be without the craving. Will we do it? Or will we continue criticizing him, others and future presidents for not providing us with satiation?

It would be beneficial to start measuring wealth in terms of character, integrity and gratitude rather than only in commodities, possessions and investments. Thus the decline in America will stop if we redefine wealth as worthy citizenship. What we pay attention to determines what we miss.

As H.L. Mencken once said, "As the office of the presidency is perfected, it represents, more closely, the inner soul of the people."

Clearly, we are missing what is already "writ large" in past, present and future history. Bush may leave office, but we citizens remain. Let's get on with the necessary due diligence of change, growth, and evolution.


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Donald M. Mihaloew is a marriage and family therapist and teaches at Portland State University.

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