Sunday, May 18, 2008

Dementia Americana

I do not wish to mislead anyone with the title of this article. Dementia, or as it is commonly known, Alzheimer's Disease, is not something I wish to make light of. My mother suffered from this tragic disease before she passed away, so I know firsthand how terrible it can be. The reason I called this article Dementia Americana is because one of the symptoms of dementia is the loss of memory. Therefore, what I mean by Dementia Americana is the illness of people forgetting what it means to be an American.

Being an American used to mean more than someone who lives, or occupies space, within the borders of this country. Being an American meant that people took great pride in being American, that they adhered to certain principles.

When I say principles I do not refer to the principles of government as described in the Constitution, although that could be part of taking pride in your country by learning of its history and how its system of government is supposed to function.

No, when I say principles, I am speaking about a code of conduct that people lived by. There were certain things that Americans used to believe in that seem to have been tossed to the wayside. Things like morals, respect, charity, self reliance, duty, trustworthiness, honor, and responsibility.

It seems that every generation has pushed the limits of what was acceptable as far as they could get away with. The problem is that each generation pushes the limits a bit further than the preceding generation and the principles upon which this nation was founded grow more distant in our memories.

It may sound corny now, but when I was growing up I constantly heard the saying, "As American as mom, baseball, and apple pie." I can remember watching the Superman show on television, not the one with Christopher Reeves, but the one with George Reeves. I still recall the opening of each show, "Faster than a speeding bullet.More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird. It's a plane. It's Superman!
Yes, it's Superman - strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman - who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel with his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights the never ending battle for Truth, Justice and the American Way."

Truth, justice, the American way... Maybe I am just reminiscing a bit, but those are the things that this country used to stand for, things that we seemed to have forgotten. I remember every morning in school, standing up, placing my hand over my heart and reciting the following words, "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, indivisible,With Liberty and Justice for all."

Now the pledge is under criticism because of its reference to God. Our country was founded by men who held firm religious convictions. Our nation's principles grew out of the religious beliefs of our founders and our laws are irretrievably based on Christian principles. I don't want to bore you with quotes, but this one by George Washington should suffice, "Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

Morality has been replaced by political correctness. It is no longer acceptable to speak out against what one considers 'evil'. Take, for instance the recent ruling by the California Supreme Court which allows for gay, or same sex marriages, contrary to the wishes of 60% of the voters in California. Homosexuality is no longer looked upon as a sin, instead it is something that we are supposed to accept as normal behavior. If we were to quote Scripture in schools when the subject of homosexuality is brought up, we would be considered the ones who are violating the law.

But this article is not confined to the loosening of moral standards, as I wish to discuss a few other things as well.

Our nation is currently in the midst of a financial crisis, the severity of which we have not yet begin to realize. While much of the blame can be laid at the feet of our elected representatives, much has to be laid at our feet as well. Our greed and our ignorance of finances has fed the credit beast which sucks the life out of our economy. It was commonplace for me, as a kid, to be told that if I wanted something I would have to save my pennies for it. Nowadays people feel like they are entitled to whatever they want, whenever they want it, on credit if necessary.
Nowadays, everyone has a credit card that they use whenever they see something they 'must have'. Saving your money for something is a quaint idea from the past.

People must have things now, so out comes the plastic regardless of whether they can make the payments on time.

It is that same mentality that led to the housing meltdown. People just had to have a home of their own, so they signed on to these sub prime mortgages, which never should have been approved. Knowing very likely the outcome of this unwise decision, the lenders were more than willing to let you sign your life away. They would profit at both ends of the deal. Now the bubble has burst and the bottom is not yet within sight. All because of greed, impatience, and unwise financial practices.

Our nation's work ethics are going down the drain as well. I see kids come in to where I work and quit before lunchtime because they broke a sweat. Those that do stick it out are useless and lazy. The supervisors are partly to blame for qualifying them to work in the first place, but they are not responsible for the inbred laziness of the youth. That is something they have learned from their indulgent parents, and from society.

People no longer want to put in an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. When talking about illegal aliens, one of the excuses is that they just can't find Americans willing to do that type of work. That may be partially true. While the farmers may pay these illegal aliens far cheaper wages than they would an American worker, I do not know of many people who would do the work these illegal aliens do, even for triple the pay. I see far too many lazy people who just do not want to work for a living. They feel they are owed a salary for just showing up to work, not for how much they put out.

Look at the popularity of the lottery systems and the Indian gaming casinos. They are making tons of money off people who visit them sometimes daily, seeking quick riches.
Then there are the worst of them all, those who choose to sue someone over something frivolous and idiotic, like the woman who sued McDonalds when she spilled hot coffee between her legs? Didn't her car have a cupholder? What about the guy who sued Burger King because he got fat from eating their food? Did someone force him to eat all that garbage? These people are the lowest of the low. They not only are lazy, but they seek to make themselves rich because of their laziness and their stupidity.

Another thing that appears to have been lost is our integrity. The truth is now whatever we want it to be, or that which suits us at a particular moment. I can remember my father telling me that a man is judged by how well he keeps his promises. Promises are now made to be broken, the truth is something that is whatever you choose it to be. Look at our presidential candidates and how they say one thing one week, then the next week they say something entirely different. Are these the best that society has to offer as our elected representatives? It is a sad commentary on us that we are willing to accept such pitiful examples of integrity to sit in the highest office in our nation. Are they a reflection of we the people, or are they just bought and paid for lackeys beholden to the corporations? Whichever they are, we should demand better of our leaders, and of ourselves.

Finally there just happens to be the fact that the American people have allowed their government to expand into this huge beast that no longer conforms to the dictates of the Constitution, and not only no longer serves them, but has turned them into its servants. We seek to place those who make us the best sounding promises into office, no matter whether their promises are authorized or, in a perfect world, would land them in prison.

This place I live in, I don't know what it should be called, but this is not America. The only thing left of America is the name. The spirit that was America died a very long time ago. The America that was founded over 200 years ago is a brain dead corpse kept alive by the machinery of greed, lust, and personal gratification, but the spirit that used to give this country its life and its vitality has long since vacated the premises.

There are a few of us, who retain memories of what America used to be, what it used to mean to be an American, but when we are gone, the cord will be unplugged, the tiny flicker of life that was America will have died for good. But don't shed a tear for us, we have our memories, while you still have your future, however uncertain and ugly it might be. My you find some peace and comfort in knowing that we brought this about ourselves.


Thomas J Kaminski said...

Revolution is in order for our country, but don't count on any one joining in, until WI comes out with a interactive video game version of it...

neal said...

Mr. Kaminski, I don't normally talk like this, but in this case I cannot help myself, "You got that shit right!"