Monday, June 27, 2011

The American Experience

There is something etched into our National Psyche, our less than three hundred years as a Nation, that has become part of the DNA of  "The American Experience".  We began as boatloads of mismatched immigrants seeking something better.  Leaving tyranny, poverty and oppression behind, we came here with an entrepreneurial spirit, thinking that if we started from scratch we could make something better.
   "Pack up our bags and go" is a particularly American expression and we conquered as we went.  Unlike the Canadian experience where they created pockets of civilization in a sea of wilderness, we cut huge swaths and brought civilization with us.  "Go West young man" became the American dream and "manifest destiny" our license.
   Not to argue here the good and bad to all of this, I am just saying the idea of moving, working hard, starting "from scratch" and conquering the elements is particularly American.  It is how the railroads were built and the West was won and how people became wealthy.  It is how common people became land owners and could have a place of their own.  It is a part of "the American Dream".
   And it is over.  No longer a common experience it is the realm of rock stars, entrepreneurial digital geniuses, the famous and the few.  We are soon becoming a nation of renters, unemployed or under employed, struggling without land or ownership and there is no more West to go to.
   "Change and Hope" is an admission that we are in a place, some kind of circumstance where we do not want to be.  Without the study of literature and art and theater and history we can not discover where we are and we will never get to "that other place", a place we can't move to because there is no more room, a place we must bring to us.
   Law and Order is an agreement that I won't steal from you.  It is an agreeable circumstance when a person has something to lose.  Tha "American Experience" is rapidly changing.

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Clipped Wings said...

Change happens continually. It's just an always part of life. The American Dream now days is to figure out how to capitalize on some small part of that, but the American Experience is the path taken in succeeding or failing to accomplish that end. Same as in the old days. It's easy to romanticise how the east or the west was won, but many lost their lives in the process, and there was still poverty among the riches. I don't understand what you mean by a place we can never get to, but must bring to us. Are you talking metamorphosis?

AutumnLeaves said...

Can't disagree with anything you've said here, Jerry. I'm one who likes to move, to change...Can't afford to do that though.

stonepost said...

Clipped Wings, you are so right, it is easy to romanticise the past and pick and choose what you want to remember. "A place we can never get to, but must bring to us"? I think I am talking "attitude" here,
or developing a different view. We all see the same thing...differently.