Tuesday, 18 November 2014

A Failing Country

I had to tell my college students, that I thought their country was about to fail. A hard way to start a class. But necessary.

It all began when sixteenth century Puritan preachers falsely alleged that God had saved The New Country for European Christians to possess. That lie led to our smugness. The first thing we did in the sixteenth century was to kill as many Indians as we could, and put many of those left, on reservations, aka known as outdoor prisons.

Then we imported five million black Africans to do the heavy lifting, raising cotton so Old and New Englanders could become rich fast. Soon we begin to brag that we were becoming the world's greatest country.

More recently, we schemed both to jail more poor blacks and Hispanics for longer terms. Why? So we could develop the new business of building more prisons. More quick bucks. But fewer and fewer Americans share in this sudden wealth. The poor have the worst education. So they fall more and more behind a healthy America.

The truly educated are more interested in making more money than in educating the most poorly educated. That's a formula for disaster. And I see no way out. We tried and flopped. The main cause of this failure is our ignoring our greatest Americans--Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, the Roosevelts and the Clintons.

The founders of our unions, our educational pioneers, our idealists like Andrew Carnegie. We majored in fun and games. Sad, but true. It's clear now how a great culture could grow and prosper. But Fun and Games is running the show and ruining our ideals. Not so nice to see. Heh, Rome wasn't destroyed in a day. But ours is on its way. Not too late.

But it's hard to imagine such a renewal. I taught American Literature and Media. I loved Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. Thrilled at the new TV that featured original plays by Horton Foote and Paddy Chayefsky. But 99 percent of our fellow Americans couldn't care less. They live for the day. The future is too obscure for them.

Heh, Countries come and go throughout the world every decade! It's vaguely described as Fate! It's more intelligently described as the triumph of the Dumb over the Smart. Sorry! We threw the dice and lost!

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