I can’t believe that 250 years after American was founded, saying it is great is actually controversial even among its own people.
This isn’t about Yankee pride or anything like that. actually my ancestors were confederates. (That’s a joke.)
Anyway, I digress. I doubt my lineage has anything to do with how I feel about America. But as I’ve said before I used to not really like my country. Not because of slavery, or racism, which has been everywhere and only has changed drastically in a few select nations; but because people didn’t seem to care about our ideals anymore. If anything the Liberal Left seems to hate everything we were built on.
Slavery was wrong, yes. Though I might point out, that’s still not universally accepted around the world. It’s only a given here because it became the popular opinion.
The world at large never changes, it just morphs into different shades of the same thing.
But once I began reading up on America’s history I found that America has always been a place that cannot be judged by its government but by its people. It was founded fort hat reason.
If you look through what the founding fathers wrote after the county was started, you’ll find an underlying theme of respect for people. For farmers, for blacksmiths, for the common person.
And believe it or not, many of them were quite progressive for their time. Jefferson argued that Native Americans had rights. He still regarded them as not quite bright, but he thought they could be taught, though how to do that without ruining their culture remained a puzzle to him.
Sure, it’s easy to say now that he was still racist, but in a time when a lot of people regared the natives as trash and savages, he would have been quite controversial.
I also find the attitude of tearing down our founders because they did wrong things to be incredibly hypocritical.
We act surprised and shocked that they were still human beings who made mistakes. And we blame them for their wrong ideas about race and social Justice. Even though we have paved our way to social justice because of what they wrote and what they did.
Do we really think our beliefs now are so inscrutable as to be more correct in every way then theirs were.
In my opinion for every problem of theirs we’ve corrected, we have added one or two more of our own, because we have forgotten what enabled them to succeed at making a better country even with their flaws.
I just finished rereading “Carry on, Mr. Bowditch.” The story of America’s first great navigator who revolutionized navigation in a time when America really need to get its feet wet in the world of sea trade. (Pardon my pun.)
Perhaps some of you have seen or listened to Hamilton. The rap/light opera based on Alexander Hamilton’s life.
If you have heard it, you know his childhood was tough. But as the songs expressed, he was determined to “not throw away his shot.”
Back then, (and in Carry On, Mr. Bowditch I found the same theme) these exceptional founders and the geniuses who came after them, felt it was not unusual to want to make something of their lives. To live well, and add something to the world.
It was the American dream. Not that everything would be easy, but that success and meaning is possible.
If you listen to the last song in Hamilton, you’ll know his wife lived 50 more years after he was killed, and accomplished what women were not supposed to be able to accomplish in her time. Yet I had never heard of her before I listen to that. Afterward I looked it up, apparently it was all true. She started an orphanage, she recorded Hamilton’s life, which is why we know so much. She wanted his story to be told, and int he rap opera, they have fulfilled her wish, hundreds and thousands of people who would never read a book about it are still learning about him.
Both Hamilton and Bowditch had rough lives. And all the founders I read about had the same. People died, they got sick, they were poor. yet all of them save for a sad few, they bounced back.
American ideals were made possible by American grit. The attitude that if life knocks you down, you don’t just lie there, you get back up.
Now, if we lose our wife and almost die of a terrible disease and live through a war, we go to therapy. If our life sucks, so many of use choose to end it. We see no reason to keep living, we throw it away.
And reading their stories, I wonder what made them decide not to commit suicide, this kind pf pain seems unbearable. One terrible thing happened after another. Life was so fragile. Nothing was certain.
but as Hamilton has simply put it “I’m not throwing away my shot” and as the musical said “That man was nonstop.” And that’s the answer.
They were non-stop. If they lost a wife, eventually they remarried. If they lost a child, they still dared to have more. If they lost heir land, ended up flat broke, they got a job and climbed back up the ladder. They dared to go to sea even when every man in their family has died at sea. And their women either helped them int heir work, or let them do it without whining about it.
Non-stop. You never stop to let hardship turn into despair. That was their secret. You keep at it.
It’s like they say about riding a horse, surfing, or any sports you can get hurt in. Once you go down, you get back in the minute you can, or you never will.
Life is like that.
That spirit is the American spirit at its best. And while we aren’t perfect, that has always been the key to our changing and improving ourselves. If we lose that now, we lose our identity.
I don’t think, mind you, that you have to be American to have that kind of grit, my point it simply that our country was built by it and because of it.
Because we had the guts to say we can be responsible for own success and we don’t need a dictator to control our lives.
It seems like now that’s what we want. And make no mistake, we’ll get it if we continue to want it.
But I’m not going down yet. I have a legacy to live up to.
Until next time–Natasha.