As the United States celebrates 233 years as a unified group of people attempting to live the ideals spelled out in its Declaration of Independence from the British Empire, a growing number of its citizens are discovering that it has become like those who oppressed it. Students of history, this cadre of new patriots understands that, like the British Empire, the American Empire cannot long survive, especially since the cheap energy sources that drove its growth are now on the path to becoming scarce.
As the intellectuals among the Founding Fathers understood, most social problems are not the fault of any particular group of people, but rather the false ideas they live by and the power they have to enforce those ideas on others. Even the most destructive among us tend to believe what they are doing is right, and will seek whatever means are necessary to keep doing it.
Our hierarchical social systems are the main source of power. At work and in public life, we follow the lead of others, executing orders regardless of how we feel about them, and translating any discomfort we may have into a drive to attain a higher position in the hierarchy so we can issue the orders that we want. By habit and training, most of us are hostages to the hope that those with the most power have the wisdom to exercise it (through us) responsibly and with positive effect. Recent events have shown us, as similar events did our forebears, that such hope is unfounded -- yet we still cling to it, hastening our demise and that of the rest of the planet.
For these reasons, we must constantly test the validity of our ideas and challenge our leaders to defend their decisions. But, more than that, we must take responsibility for our own actions and their impact on others, finding the courage to break out of the social systems that we currently depend on for our survival and try to create new ones, like the Founding Fathers did.