Tuesday, September 29, 2015 12:19 PM
I’m exhausted—and no wonder. The pope, the speaker, the UN, refugees, drought in California, water on Mars, a super blood moon, the new Daily Show once again precedes the Colbert show… is it just me or is the world turning twice as fast these days? Have you noticed a lot of news shows start their segments with, “Well, there’s a lot to cover tonight…”? That used to signify a ‘busy’ news day—now it’s just what they always say.
My personal life, away from the TV, isn’t quite as busy. But I did just post a big Brahms performance I’ve been working on for months—and I just found out today is my son’s 27th birthday! (I wish Claire had told me before I said to him, “Good Morning”—like it was any other day…) We had our daughter and her husband here for a visit from California last week. Claire just passed her big OT qualification test—a culmination of years of study for her OT Master’s Degree—and a sign that she will soon be job-hunting. But first she has to do jury duty in NYC—we were relieved she was only called downtown last week for Thursday morning—commuting right through the pope’s visit to ground zero—that would have been a hassle. I’ve got a road-test next week that will re-instate my driver license, if I pass it—Spencer just passed his a few weeks ago. So, okay, maybe I am busy.
As they say, it beats the alternative. I’m sitting here at my keyboard, on watch to tip the delivery man when he gets here with birthday lunch Chinese take-out. Tuesday is new movies day On Demand—Melissa McCarthy in “Spy”—so there’s even a good movie in my ‘cart’. Time to catch my breath, I think.
Patton was right—“Americans love to fight”—but I think he oversimplified it, thinking in bellicose terms. Our Revolutionary War was a declaration of our willingness to fight when we encountered unfairness. “Live Free or Die” seems overly familiar and trite to us today but it was a formula for suicide in the centuries before the Declaration—when the greatest prior advance in social justice had been the allowance that a person owned their own soul at death—“Free Doom”. Somewhat less ambitious, wouldn’t you say?
And after the revolution, when Texas was willing to enter the Union rather than submit to Spanish imperialism, we fought for them. Then the majority of Americans decided to fight against slavery—give or take a week-long Civil War historians conference on the ‘root causes’. It was unfair—and we were willing to fight over it. In both World Wars, we entered on the losing side—fighting unfairness. The internal struggles over racial equality, gender equality, and the rights of the sick, disabled, LGBT—all fights over unfairness. You show me an injustice and I’m ready to start swinging—why? Because I’m American, that’s why. I really would rather die than live in unfairness.
There are always those who don’t get the central premise—as early as Hamilton’s arguments with Jefferson over Federalist versus Republican, there were those who sought out the ‘easy win’—people who felt that leaving the mother country was simply a chance to be an England of our own, with a monarchy and all that implies. They wanted Washington to be “President for Life” and be addressed as ‘your majesty’—but Washington said ‘no’, like an American. Hence he is known as the Father of our Country not just because he fought the war, but also kept the peace as an American would and always will.
Today we have many people who don’t get the central premise—they think America’s greatness resides in its wealth and power—its shock and awe. Nonsense—childish nonsense. The unbelievable success of our country comes not from any material richness or military prowess—it comes from our ambition to fight for the truth. Yankee ingenuity has been finding new shortcuts towards a better future since the founding. Freedom of speech has made our democracy into the strongest of ties between a government and its people of any country on Earth. Open minds and open commerce have exploded into a global community of digital thinking, space exploration, genetic manipulation, super-sonic travel, and on and on.
Our greatest threat is the explosive variety of our success—the ‘easy wins’ float around like fish in a crowded barrel—the opportunities to exploit our success by working either in lieu of the American spirit (through hyper-capitalism) or in direct opposition to it (through extremist bible-thumping and xenophobic exclusion) are more numerous, and get better media coverage, than the real goals of true Americans.
The enemies of America seek to reinstate unfairness through new pathways—income inequality, religious division, jingoism, and denying the existence of intractable racial injustice—and all their arguments are based on fear and hatred, with a big dollop of laziness and greed to top it off. They make me tired—traitors in our own land. Fight the power!
There—I had to get that off my chest. I always get self-righteous after watching a documentary. I just watched “Standing In the Shadows of Motown—The Funk Brothers”—about all the great studio musicians whose uncredited artistry was behind hundreds of number one hits—hits that I remember from my childhood as the ‘product’ of the lead singers and groups whose names are so familiar to us all today. A handful of men in a Chicago basement would be responsible for over a decade of a multi-million-dollar music industry, without so much as a credit on the dustjacket. That kind of unfairness burns my chaps and it always will. Why? ‘Cause I’m a ‘Murican, that’s why.