Friday, 20 May 2016

Confessions of an Americanophile

I'm a huge fan of revolutionary America, and the music and literature—especially American gothic and smattering of modern American literature, you know, Kurt Vonnegut, Daniel Keyes, short story anthologies, etc.—that that great nation has produced for all humanity.

As a consumer of thoughts and ideas, I started watching Moyers & Company on PBS and slowly began to realize the extent of the damage that the "military-industrial complex" has wrought on what-I-thought-was-then the true paragon of democratic values and principles (at the least, of its remarkable history), and how powerless normal Americans ("normal Americans" is all of us ) really are in the governance of their lives. I grieved for the "government of the people, by the people, and for the people" that may have truly perished from the earth in this age of Trump and the so-called twitterverse. And, I grieved especially that the untold millions who have died in the name of liberty and justice may indeed have died in vain.

I'm currently reading a biography of John Adams by David McCullough who says of the founding fathers that "we must never forget, when they pledged 'their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor,' it was not a manner of speaking." John Adams, especially, seem to have been a true believer in the cause of justice and good government, and that persons in leadership like him should hold:

...that concealment of one's dislike for another was not a form of dishonesty or deception, but an acceptable, even wise way of conducting the business of life.

"There are persons whom in my heart I despise, others I abhor. Yet I am not obliged to inform the one of my contempt, nor the other of my detestation. This kind of dissimulation...is a necessary branch of wisdom, and so far from being immoral...that it is a duty and a virtue."

But this, he was quick to add, was a rule with definite limitations, "for there are times when the cause of religion, of government, of liberty, the interest of the present age of posterity, render it a necessary duty to make known his sentiments and intentions boldly and publicly." (McCullough, 2001, p. 208)

Adams was a mensch through and through; a person of the protestant ethic in its broadest, most personal terms:

One learned early in New England about the battle of life. Father and mother were hardworking and frugal of necessity, as well as by principle. "Let frugality and industry be our virtues," John Adams advised Abigail concerning the raising of their own children. "Fire them with ambition to be useful," he wrote, echoing what had been learned at home. (ibid, p. 32-33)

Contrast this great man with what we have today in the likes of Harper, Trump, the Religious Right, the Tea Party, which have all been emboldened by each others' unanswered incursions into our democracies, our sense of decency and decorum (ie, what we all thought America embodied once). Remember well that Harper really did try to do away with public and environmental safety and security measures of longstanding in Canadian society, obsessed over the Canadian criminal justice system in the interest of the "private" sector, publicly tried to engage a serving Supreme Court judge in a childish spat, set up a snitch line for "barbaric cultural practices" (on Muslims) during the last general elections in Canada, etc, etc.

Do you also see a pattern? Shameless. And morally oblivious.

Neocons everywhere have this quality of a decidedly impetuous immaturity. Petulant children is what they really are. Shameless because they do not seem to know better and so think everyone should be satisfied with "the natural order" of things in which their narcissistic ineptitude and apparent ignorance are celebrated for posterity.

In truth, I'm somewhat iffy about the viability of those United States of America south of us. Uncle Sam seems, apparently, to have grown old and tired, and whose lapses of presence and memory are becoming longer in duration and more violent in each iteration. If Trump is the death knell I grieve for the whole species.

Jay

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