Re-branding the U.S.A.: Here Comes the New Spirit of Country-ism
I, for one, am not in favor of the term "branding" (It makes me think of cowboys and cattle rustlers), but mass marketers are constantly brain-storming new slogans and new ways to pitch their products. All of this work is aimed at capturing what is called "market share". I think it's more of a subliminal attempt to get us to buy more stuff (I don't want to go there, anymore), but in some cases, re-branding has a larger, better purpose. Case in point, the re-branding of The United States of America - and not a moment too soon. It's already underway, and I call this new spirit: "Country-ism."
Country-ism is revamped and revised patriotism with a 2009 twist. As I see it, Country-ism is an awakening call to Americans to support one another, to partner up, to network, to barn-raise - to put the "Us" back in the "USA. The resilience, perseverance and steadfastness of Americans is part of our long history and heritage and we can reclaim it once more - basically by holding hands and fighting our way back up the ladder of success. It's too daunting of a task to do alone, but in a group or a team, it becomes easier. Watching people work together to solve problems, all over this country, is inspiring and motivating. And besides, in many cases, it works! Country-ism is a lot more than singing an anthem and saluting the flag; it's team-work, and brainstorming and selflessness; some times, even sacrifice. But that kind of American can-do spirit, determination and dedication is what our nation was founded upon - and it's alive and well, emerging once again, even if the pundits and the talking news heads don't mention it yet (but they will, soon).
The word "Country-ism" is a replacement for the word "patriotism" which has been misused, abused and over-used of late. But Country-ism has none of the baggage of the word patriotism (which in time, may assume its rightful place in our lexicon). Country-ism is more about who waves the flag than the flag itself. Country-ism re-inspires the warmth and love many of us feel for the United States (as in "My Country 'Tis of Thee). Ironic, but the sad ol' 2009 might have nudged us back towards standing up for our Country - and most importantly, one another. This re-branding of the U.S.A. is not just about showing the rest of the world who we are as a nation, but motivating and inspiring the citizenry to (as the Beatles once sang) "come together - right now."
If I picked this up from the energy waves, it means this movement is already underway. You can read about it in stories on the internet. Recently I saw a story about Twitter, and the people who are helping find jobs for out-of-work Twitterers (no fee, involved - just human-kindness overflowing). I also saw another piece about artist Shepard Fairey's latest red-white-and-blue poster showing wind turbines (Energy Independence) which you can see in Papermag.com. If Obama-poster-artist Fairey and a dozen other graphic artists and advertisers makes posters about it, it must be so (and already growing).There are countless other news stories I've seen about people lending helping hands to those in need (take the people who shelter homeless horses and other animals - also overflowing); the people who take in donated suits for jobless men and women to wear to interviews; the people who are building a church, by hand,and the people who rehab abandoned, foreclosed homes to shelter the homeless in Detroit, and so on. This spirit of selfless, creative volunteerism; this determination to work to mitigate global warming and to help revive the economy, step by step, is what Country-ism is all about.
I realize there are many people who are pretty much untouched by the current economic hardships; there are also those who are cold and hungry and bitter about this great Country of ours. This piece is not meant to ignore those who have not yet felt the grace of helping hands or those who see no tarnish on the red, white and blue.
But unlike certain government officials trying to tell us we're already coming out of this, I believe, psychically, we have a ways to go - optimism must continue to reign, but not blind optimism voiced merely to stimulate consumption. I see more bumps in the road ahead. My radar shows most people spending little; saving more; still uncertain if they will be employed tomorrow. This re-branding effort can set the stage for meeting and solving the challenges still ahead.
So let's get working together to fill the empty houses; restore the boarded up stores; find jobs for the jobless. If we see a need, let's fill it as best we can, working with family, friends and even strangers to find our own way to help. Keep in mind, no offer of aid is too small; one good deed begets another. The government clearly can't do this recovery job alone - and neither can we. Working together, we can uncover solutions we didn't even know existed. We can rebuild America - both literally and figuratively. That's the meaning of Country-ism.
Of thee I Sing.
With thanks to Twitter, Leonard Cohen, The Beatles, Shepard Fairey and Papermag, positive news stories about people helping people