I started watching the movie Across the Universe with my mom. If you don’t know, it’s a movie about war and love using Beatles songs. The imagery and topic of war has been on my mind recently after the two mass shootings that took place in our country just hours apart from one another. While I do believe something will be done about guns in my lifetime, the number of people that will need to die for it to happen is absurd and the amount of time it will take is also crazy.
This discussion made me think about people who I have met at Salt & Straw. The first customer was a couple from Canada. We get a lot of Canadians. I knew immediately they were from Canada because one had a shirt that was a photo of Justin Trudeau with an X through his face- the Canadian Prime Minister. Trudeau has become famous in the U.S. for a few things. First, he is handsome. Second, he is kind and does kind things. Third, he had an adorable bromance with Obama. Fourth, he has made people the U.S. envious as many look at him with longingness while our President leads without class. Trudeau has all the class in the world. But when I talked to this Canadian couple, they talked about their great disappointment in Trudeau. They see him as a product of nepotism as his father was Prime Minister and a major figure in the mid to late 20th century. Now, this anger could just be one couple’s assessment, but when I researched more I saw this feeling shared by a lot of Canada. They see him as all show and no work. They say he has little interest in doing what it takes to help people.
Let’s continue on and look at New Zealand, one of only a few countries where their leader is a woman. When New Zealand saw a horrible massacre last year take place on their home turf, people in America fell in love with their Prime Minister when that week she rallied the nation to make guns harder to access in her country. Politicians, members of the media, and talk show hosts all marveled at the speed of her response, something that hasn’t happened in America. But when speaking to many customers from New Zealand, they see her as an actress, someone who takes credit for things that aren’t her doing and makes great speeches but will often fail to do the hard work it takes to get things done. This message is echoed in recent drops in her popularity.
I find this fascinating. Here we are in America worried about our leader and whether he is fit to be President and we are looking in awe at other leaders who conduct themselves better as leaders. But then when we look at the people in those countries, they are unhappy because they think their leaders aren’t doing enough, taking credit for other’s work, and perhaps got their job out of a popularity contest because their dad held the office. As Aziz Ansari said in his most recent standup special, “shit didn’t just hit the fan, shit has always been on the fan.” Every era has had problems and the way we get out of issues isn’t by one person but by an entire country. We look up to other leaders, wishing ours would be more like them when in reality we just always have a problem with every leader of our country. When Obama was in office people said he gave good speeches but didn’t do much and that the increase of the economy wasn’t related to what he did but rather predicted by economists to occur as a response to the 2008 downturn. Bailing out the banks we said wasn’t bold and wise but rather what every smart person suggested, Obama just did what he was told. We were in fear of Mccain and Romney, people who now seem like competent leaders compared to Trump. When we are so connected to the media and the news, we will have a lot of problems all the time. Yes, it’s important to call Trump out for racist Tweets and messaging, but his Twitter is also a distraction. No country’s leader is perfect or liked, we are not alone. The most important thing we can do is to notice that every country is its people. We need to call out our leaders for their actions, not only what they say on Twitter. Trump’s Tweets take time away from us focusing on problems he is causing in our country and others. When we focus on tweets, we can’t actually make change because you can’t change tweets, we just end up making ourselves mad. When we focus on legislation and actions, we can actually do things. And every country in the world is figuring this out: our nation isn’t our leader, it’s us – for better or worse.
So fear not, and watch Aziz Ansari’s standup on Netflix.
I don’t like writing current events Op-Eds cause everyone has already said stuff better than me. I’ll go back to writing about my own experiences and thoughts.