The last few months.. years, I have watched ‘us’ become what I had thought we might and decided to use this as the motivation to write about an event, adventure, a slice of many live, a work of fiction. I submit this little bit for your consideration as I am sad to see it unfold as reality. No buzz kill intended my good ‘Packers’ here is the rough draft of it.
We had everything the rest of the world could only hope for. We were one of few that could feed ourselves, build the things we dreamed of in our literature and in the movies we made by the thousands each year. We wrote of going to other planets. We spent billions on the films that depicted these dreams and then we built what it took to actually take us there, first to the Moon, then to the red planet Mars, Our countries dreams, our produce, were sought after all over the world. We could feed the world as well by the middle of the twentieth century. America was young for a nation, not midway into our third century. Heady minded, and so full of ourselves from our early wars, we had everything we needed and could afford everything we wanted.
In achieving our dreams we lost sight of how the world had begun to hate us. To the end, we could not understand the hate of those that could not reach for what we had as a nation. In our own minds we began to hate ourselves. A collective self- hate evolved out of our well intended but confused sense of pity and guilt. We pitied those that could not attain the American dream. We nurtured our pity for those in the world that could not, even those that would not, come to our shores to live our life. This pity evolved as the nightly news fed us our dinner of one and three minute visions of the starving, the war weary, the sick.
No matter our numbers, no matter our technology, no matter the billion, the trillions, spent on good intentions, we could not fix problems we had become too successful to understand. Our money only served to insult those it was intended to help and enrich those that had caused the need. We tilled our land to near death to feed so many millions of others. We used our ability to feed so many to ruin the family farmer. We paid them less than the cost of growing wheat instead of soybeans, corn instead of wheat, hogs and not beef, cheap milk, but not cheese or nothing at all. When taxes could not support all our wants, we let the farmer sink.
We rebuilt the entire planet’s industrial capacity after the world wars only to have our own markets taken from us by those we helped. As our share of a world market diminished, we did what we did best. We developed new technology and products. Americans developed the technology and an industry that gave the world instant communication and access to the collective intelligence and talent of the planet. Our drive, our need for profit above all, doomed even these efforts. By the turn of the century our nations industry had sent both the new technology and the jobs it created to the third world. Done in order to reduce overhead and improve the bottom line. It was an old joke among Americans that at the very least, we could all flip burgers or sell each other insurance but corporate drive for profit automated the grill and outsourced insurance sales and on line support to the third world as well.
Sadly, the hate in the world for an American only grew and with it our convoluted sense of guilt that surely we could do more. Surely we could do what was needed to make this world safe. Surely we could share everything we could to make a better world. We tried. In Haiti, we tried. In Afghanistan and Somalia, Iraq, we tried. We tried. We died. We died in ones and twos as missionaries and corporate consultants. We died in the hundreds as embassy staff, tourists and peacekeepers. We died by the thousands as airline passengers and office dwellers here at home. We died as good troopers and Marines by the thousands. Hate found us. Hate killed us.
We could not tolerate our own confusion and lack of understanding. For decades our television and films had groomed us to believe that any crisis could be resolve with in thirty minutes, an hour to three maximum if it was a prime time drama or an epic film. With our dulled perceptions of time, we demanded action of our elected and appointed leadership. They in turn acted quickly and with as little thought as little time would allow. We began to drown in layer after layer of law and regulation that choked even more of American businesses into bankruptcy or out of the country. Action, any action, on the part of government was accepted with little oversight. Law and regulation banned, surecharged , fined, imprisoned and killed Americans in growing numbers. Law and regulation limited business growth, employee age and sex. Law and regulation controlled ownership of every item in an American home or office. Americans could not drive, hunt, marry, work, smoke, drink, give birth, store food, gas or water, buy food, clothing, or shelter nor own a weapon of any kind to secure them without permit, fee, tax, state certificate or license.
Law and regulation controlled the size of private bank accounts, the amount of deposits and withdrawals and how much could be taken to or from one nation or another. We clamored for law and regulation to control investment, medical care and property values, or save us from those that we hired to manage them for us. Regulation dictated the size of our mailbox, where we could enjoy a beer or cocktail or cigar. Law and regulation determined the price of our funeral and the condition and location of our remains. The burden of our own fears, pity, greed and guilt coupled with the venom of our enemies. These things evolved to blind, shackle and overpower us all.
Now in a desperate foolish haste, we saw only one direction to turn and we made that turn as only Americans can do. We turned on ourselves. We lost sight of a simple give-and-take relationship that had held the business of America together for two centuries. We lost the meaning and understanding of the hopes and dreams of people that, in the thousands, tens, hundreds of thousands, had died for. We the people had created a game of such confusion and depth that we longed for someone or something to clear the board and start over, no matter the cost. We would set into motion events that we could not see an end to. We ran to the cliff and stepped off. Some had the foresight to plan where they wanted to land. Most simply fell and hoped.
Again…. Just a way to stir the pot of discussion … perhaps a wee bit o treason. As ever, your humble servant will entertain all comments, questions and, of course, the odd death threat.
Thomas T. Tinker