Peregrine Falcon

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

Happy fourth, blast readers. For some reason the fourth has always been my favorite holiday of the year. It never fails to fire and is always a day of maximum fun. For many of the past 15 years it has been spent in Santa Fe, at an antiques show that has unfortunately now met its sad demise. Now we get to enjoy it with great friends on the coast and hopefully today will include my first dip in the ocean this year.

I would like to share some thoughts on living in America and being an American. In the last several years the concept of american exceptionalism has arose, the notion that god or his only begotten progeny has somehow blown his magic breath up the collective american arse, granting us special dispensation and possibly special magic powers. I reject this notion entirely. I am sure that the inhabitants of Norway and Pago Pago have similar feelings of love for their native land and tribal clan.

We live in a great country, to be sure. We have our blemishes and some sad episodes in our history, as do all countries, but I think that we are blessed with an american spirit that praises equality and fair play. As I have often said, at least the baptists aren't shooting at the lutherans yet.


We live in a country that espouses the tenet that all men were created equal. Then it's apparently every man or woman for his or her self. Native intelligence takes over, or ethical constraints, or caste or even luck. I was talking to a successful person I respect recently and he mentioned that some of the wealthiest people just guessed right one time. And that was enough. I have seen in my own life that the people that have achieved their aims are rarely the smartest or the meanest or the most privileged, they are usually the most driven. The people that could doggedly focus on their aims and objectives. Making it is a bit of a crapshoot, unless you were smart enough to invent or steal a new drug or contraption.

I had dreams of wealth and power in my younger years. Had some success but it unfortunately proved unsustainable. I got sick. Divorced. Beaten up. From the penthouse to the outhouse in one quick swoop. I also stopped judging who I was by what I had. Now it's more about the quality of my friendships and relationships, my hopes to create something beautiful.

My definition of success has changed to being able to pay my bills on a monthly basis and to take a decent annual vacation. Almost have the first one covered this year and we shall see about the latter.

Buckminster Fuller used to espouse the notion that with a little forward thinking and planning we could be a planet of 3 billion billionaires. The hippie win/win paradigm. I think that in hindsight this was wishful thinking. The game is predicated on winners and losers. The pie is only so big. The deck is rigged. The upper one percent is getting fatter and fatter and the rest of us are dashing around trying to find a chair before the music stops. Fuller's utopian mantra was picked up by the Lafferites and the supply siders, cut taxes and regulations and watch the economy soar. We tried that in the last administration and are now feeling the full force of its effects.

The new enemy is the middle class of course. Rep. Darrell Issa announced a new plan for reorganizing the post office the other day that includes of course, ending collective bargaining for postal workers. Teachers, firemen, postal workers, all those workers that got us into this mess. But god forbid we look at cutting gas and oil or farm subsidies. Or the soaring executive compensation or inflated corporate earnings that this recession has exposed.  I guess the lesson is that the fat cats will always get theirs. Our country is starting to resemble a feudal state. I read a piece recently that said that home ownership might soon go the way of the horse and buggy, an antiquated anachronism. We can all live in condo cubicles like good worker bees and get back to what we were designed for, toiling for our lords and masters.

We have a Supreme Court that has anointed corporations with personhood and corporate contributions are now called free speech. This court has indulged in a pro business, anti human behavior pattern where discrimination, injuries to plain people, limitations to personal liberty and privacy, have all been ratified and condoned by the same five to four vote.

Of course, even the poorest sap in this country would be considered a rich man in a place like Sudan, so I suppose it is all relative. There are a lot of people who live in the United States who feel perfectly fine perpetually sucking off the system. And a lot of small business people who are taxed to death and suffocating while trying to play by the rules.

I don't have any answers. Am I my brother's keeper or is it every man for himself? Sure sucks to lose. America, a land where we start on a relatively equal footing and then have the freedom to fall right smack on our face.

Maybe the national split is really merely the voicing of an inner dialogue that is getting played out in public, we are deciding who we are again and what being an American means. The eternal fight between Hamilton and Jefferson that waxes and wanes and never gets completely decided.

We americans have a lot of issues to sort out. Do we power through the rest of our fossil fuels and resources at the same alarming rate we are chewing through them, with the assurance that it is really immaterial anyway, with the rapture awaiting just around the corner? Do we, a nation of immigrants, pull the welcome sign off of our door and say that the Statue of Liberty has served her intended purpose, there is no longer room at the inn, especially if your language and skin tone does not conform to the hue and brogue of the majority? Can we continue to act as the world's financier and policemen, while our supposed allies refuse to help us with any of the heavy lifting or dirty work?

Heavy stuff, I apologize. Hope everybody has a great day and thinks about how lucky we are to live in a country where we are free to dissent and where few people actually starve to death. And where most people want to do the right thing. If only we could decide what that is.


WildBill said...

"Hope everybody...thinks about how lucky we are..."


Nice posting. Sounds like all Robert Sommers. My favorite one of late.

Splash! said...

If it was the 50's ol Joe McCarthy would be all over you!
Love it when you fire from the hip with true bullets.

Anonymous said...

Spoken like a guy born white on the right side of the tracks.

grumpy said...

America: "the land of the free and the home of the brave" or "the air-conditioned nightmare"? i can't decide...cheers, y'all...