Letters from Home

America Wants… Support

This is a Guest Post by Matt Brotherton, part of the BIG QUESTION series: “What does America Want?

Thanks for your support...I don’t know that I can speak for everyone out there. I’m not sure anyone can define what an entire nation of people really want. The differences between people can be like night and day. Everything I believe that is good for the country, for myself, my friends, and my family, might be in direct contradiction of what my next door neighbor thinks is best for us all. The question seems both simple and yet, more complex than anything I’ve ever thought about before.

My entire life, I’ve been told that I need to find what it is that makes me happy and pursue that. Watching my parents, what they’ve done to provide and care for all of us and more, has instilled in me something more, though. The day in and day out struggles of keeping a family safe, comfortable, fed and content seemed like what it was we’re all supposed to do. My parents worked hard to make sure that we had everything we needed, and even a few things we just wanted.

I don’t want to make the impression that there was no one out there more badly off than we were. I know that even in my own extended family that just isn’t true. Yet, still, it seemed like every time we took one step forward, we were taking one step back. I know that’s not entirely true either. I can look back on my life and see how far my parents actually climbed, through hard work and determination. How far we’ve all come because of it.

I think if there was any one thing that Americans want, it’s for that burden, that struggle, to be a little bit easier. I don’t think the majority of us are actually asking for a hand out. I think we just want some of that oppressive burden to be taken off of our shoulders. It’s been my experience that when one person’s burden gets a little smaller, a little lighter, they in turn will help the next person down the line. We aren’t asking for a hand out. Most of us aren’t looking to be given something for nothing. We’re willing to work ourselves to the bone to get ahead, to advance. All we need is the opportunity.

I’ve seen a lot of rhetoric about redistributing wealth or putting the debt on our kids. I can’t help but think about who those statements are targeting. They aren’t targeting the top 1% of the Nation. They are designed to make people like me, sitting comfortably in the middle-class be afraid that I will fall down into poverty.

They truth is, that if we don’t do something to create the opportunities to advance — if we don’t find a way to lift a little bit of that burden from the people below us — than we will fall. Without a solid foundation, no building can stand. I’m afraid all the weight at the top of the building that we call America is starting to show signs of strain in the basement. The least we can do is add a few support beams.


Matt Brotherton is a doodler, writer,  and part time philosopher. You can find more of his rants and dreams at http://www.mabrotherton.com or follow him on Twitter.

7 thoughts on “America Wants… Support

  1. Matt, I agree with you that we want to feel supported–and not in a touchy-feely way. Instead we want to feel like we are all in something together and that the hard times are somehow worth it because we are making something better. Something bigger than ourselves. I don’t know if it has ever really been true, but I long for a time when life didn’t feel like a competition with everyone else. Life in America today feels like a zero-sum game where we are in competition with THEM, (the rich, the illegals, the poor, whoever). If the sacrifices we all make felt like they were for a greater good, it might make everything feel different, you now?

    1. I agree completely. It’s hard to imagine a nation that has everyone pulling their own to get back up, like we were in the years following the Great Depression. Sometimes I think we need to really break down like that again before we’ll ever be able to stand back up.

  2. Brandee, there is something about this post by Matt that causes deep disturbance in my force… seriously. I really makes me think about how we have created our lives to be so “hard” even though we have so much in them to make them easy. I wonder why that is or if we are doing to ourselves for some unknown reason.

    I wish more people would read this series… not because its on my blog, but because I think feel like Americans need to think more about why we are who and where we are, and about the choices me make…

    Hmmm… I feel a post coming on! Thanks Matt and Brandee!

    1. I never feel like we spend enough time in this country discussing the why. It seems to me that introspection and and analysis are considered taboo in decision making at times, and I don’t mean just at the political level. I think we’ve somehow become a nation of “Leap before you Look”-ers, and it disturbs me.

      The warrior philosophy tells us that there is a time for moving without thinking. To act without hesitation. It also tells us that a great amount of thought and planning should proceed that moment.

      I very much feel like we’ve forgotten the first step.

  3. I have really enjoyed this series. Matt is right on with this. Ours is the first generation that is no necessarily better off than our parents, and my parents had to work way too hard.

    1. I look at my life sometimes and just get scared because I know how much work my parents put into making things better for us, and I’m doing exactly what my father did for thirty years, even to the point of living in his house.

      I don’t even have my own business cards, because I still have 3 boxes of his, and I just cross out his first name and put mine on them.

      It can be depressing, but at the same time, I don’t know, at least I have what I have.

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