I am one of those people who doesn’t get along with her body. Or, as my son calls it “inadvertent suicides” by which he means in his work at the emergency room he sees many people come in who are at or almost near the point of death but who put off coming in because they were convinced that their symptoms were “nothing.”
I add another layer to that in that I don’t trust my body further than I can throw it, and at the current avoir du pois I can’t jump that far. I.e. I expect my body to be influenced by my mind and my mind is full of iniquity. It wouldn’t be the first time I tried to write something that I darn well DIDN’T WANT to write, and my body did the good ol’ shut down and “we’re going to turn off in five minutes.”
Well, maybe that wasn’t true. Because you see, there’s always another way to look at it. That’s what I assumed the problem was at the time, but it now seems fairly sure I was actually in horrible shape, and could sort of force myself to write books I really wanted to write, but the others just let the body win, because the body was all screwed up.
In fact, in view of recent discoveries, it’s a miracle I’ve functioned as well as I have for the last 15 years or so, and not a surprise at all it came to near total shutdown these last two years.
That’s not the subject, here, but it is important to know that every time we find out there was a reason behind behavior I had trouble combating, I am relieved: it wasn’t my fault after all. I’m not trying to avoid work, and I’m not very lazy. There is a physical root to all these troubles, and the route can be taken care of.
Even if the route couldn’t be taken care of, it would be a relief to know it wasn’t my fault. And I probably could fight it better knowing it was “real.”
Maybe I’m peculiarly put together (No duh, Sarah?), maybe not. Even if I am peculiarly put together, we all know our country is peculiarly put together too.
(Yeah, I heard that “What?” Bear with me. I haven’t had Percocet since last night having reached the point the pain is preferable to the nausea, but it takes a while to clear from the system.)
Part of the problem with self government is that we each of us blame ourselves for the mess we’re in. Actually what is really funny for people my generation is that we tend to blame ourselves for pretty much everything.
The problem with taking a snapshot of the country as it is in this position in time and seeing all the problems is that we tend to despair. You hear all the variants “Oh, look, the thing is, the country isn’t the same it wasn’t at the founding, and so…”
No, and that’s a given. Fortunately humanity, technology and the world aren’t what they were at the founding, either. (Trust me, you wouldn’t like it.)
And the US IS change. We’re an engine of change in the world, which is why someone either Bill Whittle or Ed Driscol, (can’t remember. Percocet) coined the phrase that “the future comes from America.”
We are the scary-serious kid who not only comes in and takes the lead in the class, but who is always inventing new things no one would have thought of without him.
The problem is this: the ideas of our founding, that grand resounding poetry of the declaration of independence are so new, so strange, so revolutionary that it couldn’t come to fruition in the world as it was now.
I’ll let CACS talk about it some time, but the more I study, the more I see those grand ideas honored more in the breach.
Becoming America is a job of retreat and stumble, of standing up and of crawling, of moving by inches towards being what we said we were, and of being buffeted almost all the way back.
You can read the history, it’s there. From the Alien and Sedition act, to situations as dire as the Woodrow Wilson Admnistration. And then the interesting vortex of soviet propaganda and population glut of the sixties which seems to be destroying our culture from within.
But it isn’t. Or not really. It’s just another step on the road to becoming America. Okay, maybe it’s the baseball bat to the face and set back six feet. But the game started LONG before anyone now alive was born. And it will go on long after we’re dead.
Think of it as sort of my relationship with my body. By all that’s right and holy, born at home, in the middle of winter, extremely premature, I shouldn’t have survived the night. I certainly shouldn’t have functioned enough to finish elementary school, much less advanced studies. I spent the greatest part of my childhood on bed rest, though that’s not the part I remember (Though it’s why I’m bookish, I think. Otherwise I’d never have stopped long enough to learn to read.) And most of my life has been negotiated against the perpetually breaking down body.
But if you don’t know that, if you don’t see, as I do (and despair of) the long periods of silence and illness, it seems like I’m always on the go.
Because there’s things I must do to be me. So I do them. When I can. The hardest thing being to have patience and to take it slow with the down periods.
America is like that too, because it’s such a huge idea it has trouble fitting in with the human condition.
Which is why we go through some pretty dark periods.
It might look like the end, but it’s not, because our founding is one of those ideas that once unleashed on the world can’t be put down. We just have to figure out how to bring reality in conformance to it. And a great part of the despair is that we (my generation in particular) feel guilty. We weren’t taught. We didn’t know. We collaborated with the enemy unknowing.
But all that is small, in the spread of time from the founding and the spread of the time to the future. And we were just picking up the standard where it lay, and now we’re carrying it. The game will go on a long time. We shouldn’t try and can’t expect to win it all today.
The patient has been sick a long time. We must be tolerant of relapses and naps.
Teach your children well!
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Don’t despair. You’re not supposed to do all of it today. It doesn’t all rest on your shoulders. Be patient with the foibles of humanity. Be patient with our occasional crawls in the mud. See where the standard bearer last fell. Pick up the flag and run with it.
America comes from the future, and that’s where we’re headed. That future where we’ll finally figure out how to live up to our founding.
Lift that flag. We’re becoming America.