Stages of American National Grief
The progression of stages of national grief is:
- Denial <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denial> – “The country is fine.”; “Signs of decline are overblown by unpatriotic people.”
- Denial is usually only a temporary defense but while it is operative it is filled with rhetoric like, “Let’s take our country back to the way it was” which is largely a mythological construct of something that never was – a Norman Rockwell view of nationhood.
- Anger <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anger> – “Why us? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to us?”; “We are the greatest nation ever.” “Who is to blame?”
- Once in the second stage, the citizen recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the nation is very difficult to care for, think clearly about or to make plans for its future due to feelings of rage. Looking for scapegoats becomes a preoccupation.
- Bargaining <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bargaining> – “I will do anything to bring back the memory of what is an ‘exceptional’ nation. “God has established it with a unique destiny and surely he won’t let it die.” “I will pray to the Almighty who founded this country to rescue it from those who are out to destroy it.”
- The third stage involves the hope that the demise of the national identity can somehow be postponed or delayed. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life of that which has been known is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed and ideological pure state. Psychologically, the individual is saying, “I understand that the nation as it has been constructed is dying, but if I could just have more time to live the way it was…”
- Depression <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depression_(mood)> – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “The nation as I know it is going to die… What’s the point?”; “I miss so much the American myths of a country that used to be, why go on?”
- During the fourth stage, the individual begins to understand the certainty of death of the national idea. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse to associate with others or read the paper or keep up with the news and spend much of the time grieving. This process allows the person to disconnect oneself from attachments and affection for the underlying myths of what s/he believed to be his or her homeland.
- Acceptance <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acceptance> – “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”
- In this last stage, the citizen begins to come to terms with the mortality of not the nation but the national idea as it has been and begins to think of how the nation might be if it was less absorbed with itself and its excessive individualistic mythology and more concerned with using its assets to fully serve by participating in an international, global understanding of its role. It is the beginning of creativity and new opportunity.
But for now, it seems, we are stuck between rage (TEA Partiers) and helplessness (Liberals)
thanks to Bruce Vincent for this clever bit