Monday, July 5, 2010
Happy Birthday, America
I spent part of Sunday watching the made-for-tv series, "The Revolution" on the History Channel. It doesn't have the same dramatic quality as the HBO series of several years back that had Jeff Daniels playing George Washington, but it is full of good solid historical facts and some rather authentic appearing re-enactments.
But, what really struck me was just how precarious and incredibly difficult our struggle against tyranny was. We had already been in revolt for going on five years when 1780 arrived and that year saw defeat after defeat at the hands of British mercenaries and career professional military troops then considered to be the best in the world. 1780 came to be referred to as, "The Dark Time" it was so bad. American troops were frozen, starved, disease-plagued, un-paid--despite congressional promises to do so, of course--and they were asked to re-enlist despite what appeared to be a losing cause. And, the majority of them DID. Not only did they stay the course, they started winning battles, under the leadership of such inspired generals as Nathaenial Greene--a Quaker, by the way, who had set-aside his pacifist ideals because he knew that living under tyranny would be unacceptable. We developed the first effective guerrilla forces and met the red-coats on our own terms using camouflage, night, and superior backwoods marksmanship to whittle them down to size. And, in the end, we surmounted all the tremendous difficulties and the odds that were so stacked against us.
During the Revolution the British acted very much like the Japanese and the Nazis during WWII, in terms of how they treated the populace and the American prisoners they took. They helped to seal their own doom by acting so bestially and thereby motivating Americans who might have otherwise remained astride the fence that separated loyalists and rebels.
As I watched the story of how we became truly a free people, I also heard echoes of the people among us in the present who are trying to foment a revolutionary attitude. They are comparing President Obama to Hitler, telling us that we are in danger of becoming a 'socialist state' and that 'progressivism' is the new communism. Palin used the term, "....reload" to tell people how to approach political change. Limbaugh used the phrase, "....wipe them out," referring to how his listeners should go after Democrats who voted to improve health care. Beck constantly uses emotional invective to stir up fear and hatred. And, what makes me truly sad and angry is that there is apparently a large segment of our population who are more than willing to soak up this excrement and adopt it as their own political viewpoint.
It makes me feel that we have completely lost touch with what it was that made us so fiercely determined to be, not merely free, but to be compassionate and fair.....TO ALL PEOPLE. It is my sense that we're in danger of becoming a nation of self-interested, callous, and even VIOLENT people who just want to meet our own needs. To hell with anybody else; they can meet their own needs.
Am I wrong? We are rapidly becoming--already are in the eyes of most of the rest of the world--a nation of people who will do anything to serve our own desires and self-identified 'needs', which seem to be generally defined as having all the luxuries we can and simply to acquire 'stuff'. Gimme all that good stuff I see on t-v and I'll call it good.
Is that really who we are? I actually don't think so. But, there is a segment of us who is headed in that direction and who is making a helluva lot of noise that nobody--as in NOBODY--better get in their way, especially not some foreign, Muslim, black dude who thinks we should become less selfish, more caring, and apparently less rich.