Wondering where the American Girl settled in?
Aside from the fact that I clicked into Celebrity Apprentice just in time to watch the underdog of the entire season, Rocker Bret Michaels, hear the infamous words from the Donald, "you're hired"...my eyes were glued on America. And I trust I wasn't alone.
Wow. Can I just say, thank you, to all of you who have come before me. Each and every one of you, I owe you my life -- for shelter, for food, for the shirt on my back, for the power at my fingertips, for the fresh morning cup of joe I sipped from my favorite cup with such ease, for the ability to advance and grow this nation into what it is today.
Of course, dumb luck and perseverance ventured into every endeavor time and time again. The will to see something through to completion, the spirit to win, the mindset of never taking no for an answer, and the unwavering character deeply embedded into the American way that carried US to greatness over, what hindsight tells us, a very short period of time, was remarkable to watch.
And the statistics thrown about oh my goodness! And the change of perspective of things, nearly overnight!
For example, oil was first considered "a nuisance" when farmers and land owners were digging their wells in search of water; we had to wait until the mid 1850's before we were able to understand how to purposefully use the gook. And how within the first year, as the drill baby drill mentality sank in, over 500 oil companies jumped into the new market; subsequently, how the price of oil went from $200/barrel to THREE CENTS; ultimately, how refineries made it possible to develop the automobile for the common man, not just as play toys for the wealthy.
Certainly, stunning commentary was floated in and around the stories, like from Bill Maher (eew -- but I digress) who said something like this during the Prohibition segment: "ya just can't legislate morality."
For the first time, I think we can agree on something.
The government intervened with the sale and commerce of alcohol, and what happened? All hell broke loose; self-discipline was the nation's saving grace, at the root of our success or our own personal failure.
From William Blackstone, one of America's free thinkers of yesteryear:
"Let a man therefore be ever so abandoned in his principles, or vicious in his practice, provided he keeps his wickedness to himself, and does not offend against the rules of public decency, he is out of the reach of human laws. But if he makes his vices public, though they be such as seem principally to affect himself (as drunkenness, or the like), they then become by the bad example they set, of pernicious effects to society; and therefore it is then the business of human laws to correct them...Public sobriety is a relative duty [relative to other people], and therefore enjoined by our laws; private sobriety is an absolute duty, which, whether it be performed or not, human tribunals can never know; and therefore they can never enforce it by any civil sanction."The only guarantee of a good and civil society comes in the nurturing and substance back behind good and civil individuals.
Going another direction, the history of our wartime is mind-boggling; from the over 600,000 killed in the civil war, to the 126,000 killed in one battle alone, at Normandy during WWII -- combined with the 64,000 civilians who died just making ammunition and military supplies -- lives sacrificed for the good of the whole is at times in our history unfathomable.
While the context of the fight between Joe Lewis and Max Schmelling I never fully understood, given the distance of my generation. I had no idea of the power-keg surrounding the representation of ideologies -- of the son of a slave standing for America, up against the master race, and Nazi Germany. It may have taken a rematch, but we, or should I say, Lewis, defeated pure evil. America was the hero, as exemplified by an African-American man, and the year was 1938. Now look at US, flash forward to 2008, and the first African-American President is the leader of the free world. Only in America.
Yet, what seems to have struck me the hardest, and left such an imprint in my memory, was the level of lawlessness (along with how incredibly dirty everything was); besides the brutal hardship of homesteading across the open plains, the invention of mass produced steel created a little something we like to call, the city. The truth is, movies like Gangs of New York, frightfully nail it; for crime and punishment was simply the way it was, way back when; a civil survival of the fittest. The thought of being able to rent a gun by the hour, traveling murderers and thievery reigned as a method of survival, and haunted the streets of every city brave enough to pop up, seemingly getting worse the more advanced we had become.
The early nineteen hundreds are credited for the invention of mug shots, as well as the explanation behind the Third Degree: 1) persuasion 2) intimidation and if that doesn't work, 3) inflicting pain!
Think about it, there were no drivers licenses, or I.D.'s of any kind -- thugs were able to wreck havoc on a city and move on to the the next without so much as a way to find them again, criminals ran around anonymously with the rest of us every day. Now look at US, we not only have databases of head shots and pages of psychiatric profiles to go with, but we have amassed a way to save the DNA from every crime.
And of course, speaking of the filth found in the streets, up until the day indoor plumbing was required in every tenement, 40,000 people died a year in New York alone, from the incredible amount of human waste and dead animals found under our feet. Flash photography, also invented in the early 1900's, managed to shock Americans into reform and shortly thereafter, saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Now look at US, Yahoo! and YouTube and NY Times and newspapers around the globe, bring us face to face with every atrocity known to man within probably 10 minutes.
Now look at US!
The age of enlightenment was followed by an industrial age like no other. America grew from guts and glory, in feast and famine, through dust bowls and floods; whether it was the eighth grade education or the ivy league schooled, the drunk and disorderly or the civil and constraint, we made US; whether war time or peace time, we always advanced.
The method of looking ahead, not back, has always served US well -- whether it be technology, energy, ecology, humanity, or our simple liberties. But lest we forget, America awas built upon the foundation laid by our founders to forge ahead in every which way conceivably possible -- for if we could think it, dream it, build it, they will come. The Constitutuion -- with it's limitations and duties, individually and collectively, gave US the very framework for all we have before us.
Now look at US; spoiled beyond recognition.
One of the most heartwarming things I heard last night was that the History Channel was making available the entire series to every school in America: The Story of US.
It's like a grandparent sitting all the kids down to hear a story, one that reminds the youngins' how hard it was to work, for pennies an hour, barely twelve years old, in order for the family to have bread for their evening meal; or one that refreshes the spirit of a romance, how grand daddy met grand mammy, and the rest was history; or one that reminds us why we fought so hard for the rights of all people, even people we don't even know, whether here or across an ocean and around the world; or one that reinforces the strength of growing a nation of good character, freely honoring a religion of one's choosing and wanting, truly, to become something wonderful for the world -- but most of all for our country for which we stand.
The day we stop telling the story of US -- in ways that bring about the exceptional and remarkable, along with realities of the reprehensible and ill repute -- will be the day we stop being America.
Sometimes growing a nation takes persuasion, intimidation and pain -- three degrees of separation from being truly free on our own merits, or behind bars.
And the real beauty is, the story is ours to make every day as we speak.
Make it a Good Day, G
I had my doubts about Bret Michaels...a fine example of never throwing in the bandanna too soon. Way to go, Mr. Michaels -- and rock on, American boy. Today's music is dedicated to you, just a click away on Dear America.
For another interesting take on the making of history today, go to http://ring4liberty.blogspot.com/
Good stuff on the big H, Ringo!