We close ourselves off.
We find it annoying and disrespectful to visit one another's homes unexpectedly, inhibiting spontaneous expressions of service and love, instead of joyfully receiving the guest as if he or she were a gift. In India and the Middle East, the guest is God. And when cooking for large parties, they always make more and never waste what's left. Yes, it can be seen as a "cultural" difference, but as humans, what makes Americans more rigid, stuck up and uninviting?
We are obsessed with being in control of our image but ignore controlling ourselves, primarily the mind and senses.
We keep the world and each other at a comfortable distance, a space in which we can manipulate our images and pay shrinks to plunge in and figure it all out for us instead of dealing with our very interesting and real stuff face to face -- with one another, where you can't escape it, can't suppress it; eventually coming to appreciate it, even realizing that your mind was making the shadow bigger than it really was. Or, we deal with our stuff indirectly and ineffectively, via an elevated pop star or 10 o'lock news martyr.
We deny ourselves the opportunities to get in touch with the very essence of life and gorge ourselves on artificial substitutions -- TV shows, gossip magazines, endless images, credit-based buying of what won't last and won't satisfy; not you, who bought it to impress and not they who are too busy also self-obsessing to notice. It's a fake world we like to consume at a higher cost than what it takes to be honest and occasionally uncomfortable, naked of the signifiers we layer for fabricated meaning when we could be picking up and collectively validating what's got real meaning, albeit little monetary value.
We are the center of our own universe, aiming all of our efforts to please the body and senses, enjoying unilaterally.
We are accustomed to comfort for the body and stifle the soul's creative nature by unceasingly purchasing every solution, ignoring the pulse of life who's very purpose it is to seek and exercise those solutions. Convenience has made us fat, tired, lazy, taxed, disconnected, dissatisfied, deluded, entitled and uninspired. And any man in (material) control who is serving you this conveience, doesn't have the answer he's selling, is merely raking it in and investing in more of the same, just under a different name.
This so-called convenience has divorced us from the community of cooperation and love and enslaved us to the separating, capitalistic sense of (false) independence. We've all become dependent on the middle man, and from all directions seemingly inescapably, simultaneously serve this middle man to soullessly sell us slop while having forgotten the perfectly fine abilities we each have to depend on one another in economically efficient and connection-encouraging exchanges. And this can be seen at the simplest level -- making, serving and sharing foods; confiding our truths, needs, failures and hopes; giving a helping hand regardless of tax status and plate prices.
We create events primarily to glorify our names and make money instead of to learn something new, make friendships and speak of ideas higher and more uplifting than past gossip or "who are you wearing".
Running this charade is a false idea that the charade is where the happiness is. But get in a room, alone. Turn off the sound, the noise, the flurry. Listen to the silence behind the story.
Is it full like your heart?
Or terrifyingly empty?
Are you truly alone?
Or are you sharing in the presence of something bigger?
And for the really big question: Would you even know it?
(Hint: the media wouldn't have been the one to inform you.)
There is real goodness, light, truth and happiness. It's just not under the rocks we've been trained to look under...
*Edited to add: while these generalizations are not meant to address a whole nation-state of individuals, I am making a broad assessment of some habits and tendencies noted specifically in America. My critique aims to shed light on what stands out as debilitating in American life when compared to what I have observed and experienced in other countries where I have spent time (in Europe, Central America, Africa and India) and from what I have learned in exchanges with people from a myriad of cultures, religions and socio-economic backgrounds.