012picket-fences-349713_1920-2“How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself and in no instance bypass the discriminations of reason? You have been given the principles that you ought to endorse, and you have endorsed them…From now on, then, resolve to live as a grown-up who is making progress, and make whatever you think best a law that you never set aside. And whenever you encounter anything that is difficult or pleasurable, or highly or lowly regarded, remember that the contest is now.”

Epictetus

Don’t blame the media for the outcome of an election. Further, do not blame the media for the eradication of the American middle class.

Blame yourselves.

Let this not infer that the media has not been culpable in participating in the perpetuation of the problem. Still, the fact of the matter is, the media is a byproduct of the people who consume it.

The American middle class was once the foundation of the nation’s economy but somewhere along the way it lost a sense of itself. In a gradual grand illusion, the American middle class began to conflate a middle class income, a house in the burbs, a couple of cars, and a host of gadgets with the American dream. In exchange for the privilege and benefit of being informed and engaged citizens, the middle class accepted a more placated and non-participatory role.

For example, how many times here in Saint George have you heard or read boisterous complaints about the decisions and actions of local government? In the same breath answer how may times have you seen those people at a city council meeting? How many times have you been?

How many battle cries have you heard for the cause of government overreach, only to stand by silently while local prosecutors and elected officials run afoul of the laws of this once great land and do absolutely nothing about it?

It is no wonder we now have a leader in the highest office of this land who openly professes, as if it were not blatantly obvious, that he does not read. Anything.

Because neither did we.

The American middle class no longer exists and whether or not it revives itself is completely dependent upon how willing it is to return to the American ethic and the responsibility of being more involved as a citizen than merely checking a ballot box every two to four years.

We are more responsible for the fact that our country is no longer as great as it once aspired to be than perhaps we realize.

In a now famous monologue for the character Will McAvoy on The News Room, Aaron Sorkin wrote (in answer to the question why is America great)

“We sure used to be. We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons, we passed and struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, and we acted like men. We aspired to intelligence; we didn’t belittle it; it didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t scare so easy. And we were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered. The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one — America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.”

This eloquent admonition to the state of affairs in our country not withstanding, it needs to be said that it cannot and is not simply the media’s fault. Informed and educated people are not easily duped. So own it.

We have work to do friends.

See you out there.

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Dallas Hyland is a professional technical writer, freelance writer and journalist, award-winning photographer, and documentary filmmaker. As a senior writer and editor-at-large at The Independent, Hyland’s investigative journalism, opinion columns, and photo essays have ranged in topics from local political and environmental issues to drug trafficking in Utah. He has also worked the international front, covering issues such as human trafficking in Colombia. His photography and film work has received recognition as well as a few modest awards and in 2015, he was a finalist for the Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Based in southern Utah, he works tirelessly at his passion for getting after the truth and occasionally telling a good story. On his rare off-days, he can be found with his family and friends exploring the pristine outdoors of Utah and beyond.