Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

Looking Back with One Eye Shut

What if Americans are the chosen people—inevitably always right? As an American, would you feel comfortable hearing that or just a little queasy? If the United States were perfect, it would certainly be easier to teach our infallibly glorious history to children and to those who yearn to be proud all the time. Manifest destiny! Some mass murders, broken treaties, and slavery were justifiable from certain viewpoints, weren’t they? Most would-be historians don’t want to excuse all Americans all the time. What if you specified what KIND of Americans are the chosen ones? Does that change the equation and make it compute more easily?

Many wouldn’t want to watch a PBS series such as THE U.S. AND THE HOLOCAUST by Ken Burns. Not that again! Who wants to know how many respected citizens in the United States thought Hitler was right? Who wants to know about the Americans who did their best to assist him in tidying up the Earth? Life is more comfortable if you have a group of people you can both isolate by some feature (religion…race…gender/ethnic identity…socio-economic status…or disabilities) and blame for economic downturns. “That was then” ceases to be a good argument for dismissing the Holocaust when the same logic operates now—transferable to any inconvenient disliked group. Prejudice and hatred are always popular. Rich white male Americans are the chosen people? Some would like to believe so. (Many from both sexes who wish to emulate them agree.) Working together with EVERYBODY looks so…common (pronounced socialistic).

Most of the James Bond films featured a central villain who wanted to control the world…and have a lot of sex. No one expected someone like a Bond villain to become a role model. But that’s our recent history. A significant proportion of our elected political and religious “leaders” have agreed to cripple our democratic government to give themselves more power. How will the history books spin that choice to make future Americans proud?

The truth is all countries are filled with flawed human beings who can be egotistical as often as unselfish, hateful as easily as loving, deceitful as deliberately as honest, cowardly as often as brave. We’re right and we’re wrong. We look at ancient history—the murders, plots, genocides, and all that which allegedly made the Great Flood necessary—and we see examples of the same today. Before Trump’s rise to the throne, I read articles that claimed global humankind has made huge strides toward more compassion and reason. Were they kidding? Most young people believe we’re careening toward Armageddon. Perhaps the only way humankind can take a fresh trail is if we examine the paths we’ve trod before—bloody weeds, slime, quicksand, and all—to establish better footing. As my advanced algebra teacher used to say, “You need to go back and correct your work so you don’t make the same mistakes next time.” With the advantage of perspectives from a diverse population and a strong dose of integrity, we can try to admit our weaknesses and create fresh footprints. Keyhole sight promotes ruts.

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