Yeah, I’m back on the future history and the Usaian faith. I know it starts somewhere in the 21st century. Way too meta, but my name ain’t Hubbard, so ignore that.
I took yesterday off to write, and because I’m actually cursed (right?) I immediately came down with a severe ear infection. This is not unusual when tapering on prednisone. It’s just… normally not ears. Anyway, I did the thing I usually do and tried to ignore it, but when I was sweating and crying with pain, I got dragged to the doctor, and am now on antibiotic and better. Not fully well (duh) but not crying in pain, which I count as a win. I might even get some work done today.
And speaking of the Usaian faith. One of you is cute when I mention it, and says she’s not a Usaian but an American, but the two are distinctly different. I called it Usaian for a reason, partly because I heard it used as a pejorative in international boards (yeah, I know) and we have an history of taking those and using them with pride. See Yankee.
But I used the term, because I needed a different term from “American.”
I went to school with two American twins. You wouldn’t know it from looking at them, because they were as Portuguese as they can be. But they bragged of their status, because — get this — they got money from the US every month.
Now back then I saw nothing unusual about this. In Portugal, you do get paid per-child. It’s called “family allowance” and it wasn’t a heck of a lot, but you got some money every month (not money back on taxes, just money.) Now I suspect that these chicks were on some form of assistance for poor families (still most, but at the time all of Portugal would qualify, by income.) Because they went to the embassy every month to collect a check. And their entire family lived off it, an upper-middle class lifestyle.
You see, their mother was on a bonafide tourist visa, and went into premature labor as they landed. They saved the twins who, born on American soil, were American. In the legal sense, that is. There was no sign they were American in any other way.
“But Sarah, you say, that’s because nationality of birth on the soil is stupid. But people who have lived here for centuries, whose ancestors came over if not on the Mayflower, on a decently later ship, are SURELY American.”
You’d think so, wouldn’t you? I think the founders thought it was impossible for anyone who knew the country not to love it. Hence, the citizenship rules we have.
However, go through the old families in New England. 90% of them are exquisitely well educated in the best schools, and ideological international socialists. A lot of them, in fact, amount to a fifth column on our soil, the boot of the occupier on our neck. The fact that they were turned by a would be occupier who then collapsed from within doesn’t change the fact they are in all but name enemy agents.
But they are AMERICAN. They were born here. So were their ancestors. (And we all know three generations of magic soil will do it. After all experts assure us of this. Just like the other experts assure us that being born here would do it.)
Their vote counts as much as mine and yours.
In most countries this would make perfect sense. Nationality and tribe are roughly covalent in use, if not in fact. What I mean is though there is a heck of a lot more miscegenation between countries in Europe than you’d think (no, really. Not just the normal people with wandering feet, but you know, invaders, war, economic exiles, religious exiles, you name it. All of them leaving DNA behind) each nation thinks of itself as the US thinks of races. (Which is a largely fictitious thing in the genetic sense in the US also. Anthropologists have a technical term for American blacks: Caucasian.) They think of themselves as tribes or clans, or sometimes related tribes or clans (the North and South of Portugal despise each other, but will admit they’re closer to each other than say to Spaniards. And they admit they’re closer to Spaniards than to Frenchmen. you get the point.) So being born there means you’re likely to intermarry with the tribe. And if your family stays there for generations, you already have.
But America is something else: it is a country founded on loyalty to the constitution, on belief in self government and on what Heinlein called the immortal poetry of the declaration of independence.
We are sure, a nation of soil and culture, but we’re also a nation of belief.
My future history required that America fall.
I’ve found I have this little defect: I can’t write a book set on our Earth in which America doesn’t exist, even if only just as a dream and a hope.
So I figured after America fell, the dream and the hope remained. “Humanity’s last best hope.”
Dreams and hopes are important. It was to an extent the dream of a Rome that never was, the idealized republic that people in the Empire wrote about, which caused America to come into being.
I noticed, further, that we had something here that only one other historical people had. You see, in most nations, when they lose a war, have a financial crisis, get righteously trounced, the fault is found anywhere but themselves. It was the great betrayal of an internal minority. It was our enemies being so dastardly. It was unfair, and besides the sun was in our eyes.
Americans, by and large, don’t do that. Instead they buckle down, swallow hard and go “it’s because we deviated from our own principles. If we do penance and return to a more faithful observance of our beliefs, we’ll be great again.”
Whether that’s true or not — obviously I think it is. There’s a lot of the USAian in me. — it is a weird religion.
Those of you who have read the old testament know exactly what other nation did this.
It is a belief highly likely to form into a religion when the people cease having any other form of identification. You live and die and exist by your belief.
Now are these people in the future, who believe in the Usaian religion, are persecuted for it, and who hold onto it as their reason to live Americans?
Oh, h*ll no. Most of them weren’t born on American soil, and at any rate, America has no legal existence in their world.
So, they’re not American. But they believe in the founding principles. And they carry the light of them, idealized, through the night of tyranny, with intent to reestablish the Republic and to be Americans again.
I have — of course — great sympathy with them. It also amuses me to play with religious belief in the future, divorced from other beliefs that bring a knee jerk reaction (though many of my characters are the religions we have now, sometimes with a USAian overlay) because it allows me to bring forth the nobility of honor, devotion and belief.
But more than that, as the Earth revolution unrolls, we get to see where belief fails, where it can get contaminated, and where it’s impossible to recreate America as such (which America would be the question, given the three centuries of existence they sort of have records of) because of new conditions, different tech, different people. And it’s fascinating to see how close they go towards recreating it.
Because it’s my world and I’m a romantic, the closest it comes to existing eventually (oh, there’s many books to get there) is in the North American territories, which weirdly end up including a portion of what we call Canada, because it greens first in this timeline.
But will it ever be America? Well, it will have or fight for the same principles. But America the dream will remain as unreachable to them as it is to us: a shining city on a hill to which we must ascend forever, but which remains too perfect for mere mortals.
And yet the fact that it exists as an ideal is enough to keep the hopes of it alive. Forever.