GOOD TIMES, HARD TIMES, AMERICAN PROPAGANDA AND THE PAST – Marilyn Armstrong

I never thought America was the international good guy. Read far too much actual — not school — history for that. What I did think is that we had a fundamental sense of right and wrong and that when nip came to tuck, we’d do the right thing … and right had nothing to do with the Soviet Union, either. Remember, that Berlin wall came down when I was pretty young. I really thought — for a while until, like most illusions, it was shattered by reality — that the old U.S.S.R. might, without their antique soviet rulers, be free enough to make good choices.

I remember a world where people were more polite to each other and where however individually corrupt our pols were, they still believed in “the good of the country” above and beyond their individual agendas. That belief has been falling apart with the passing years. I really thought at least some of them cared. I wish I’d been right about that. We could use some caring.

This horror in which we live right now? It didn’t start with Trump. It started when we decided to create a nation, we would allow slavery and it was okay to slaughter the Natives. We sold our collective souls to the devil before we even had a constitution or anything resembling a country. Oh, we had a nicely written constitution and some idealistic people who did some good, sometimes, when they were allowed.

Overall? We have always owed our souls to whoever had the most money because that was what the slavery deal was about — letting the south keep slaves so they could hold on to their plantation and not (heaven forbid) have to actually work.

Standard Oil went half a dozen rounds with Theodore Roosevelt and theoretically, Rockefeller lost over and over in court, but really, he lost nothing. He literally laughed at the court rulings and nothing changed. J.P. Morgan had a good laugh too as TR tried to break up his ownership of the railroads and many other corporations.

Today’s Exxon is Standard Oil with a cooler name. It is bigger, uglier, and more ruthless than ever. Huge corporations never lose, not today or ever. Money is power.

I don’t remember that nearly perfect world, nor does Garry. Maybe only white middle-class people remember it. The rest of us were under no illusions about where we stood in the great scheme of things.

I do remember a world where there was more personal communication between people. There was also more opportunity to make progress in the game of life. Those opportunities have largely disappeared. The big corporations have bought out, sold off, or absorbed most (almost all) of the smaller organizations which had been the stepping stones for individuals trying to climb the ladder.

Today, we are feudal. If we are born a serf, we will die a serf.

There is an assumption by our kids including my granddaughter that we remember a perfect world.

We don’t. There’s a lot of assuming going on. Some old people want to remember that world. Maybe they lived in one of the white suburbs and never had to bump into a dark-skinned person and treat him or her as an equal.

Then again, maybe age has rosied their memories so now they remember what they wish it had been.

Yup. Lots of assuming going on.

I miss people being polite and talking — even arguing — together. I never believed our propaganda, probably because my mother and father didn’t believe it either. There’s a lot of youngsters out there who are so deeply ignorant they think the boomer generation destroyed the world. We did everything. Built the corporations, fought all the wars — even the ones that occurred before we were born.

All of the problems if this world were created by my generation. And probably yours, too.

The level of ignorance and stupidity going around the world is breathtaking. I think I’ve gotten past being shocked. Now, it’s closer to disgust.

War is never out of style. There has always been a war going on as long as I can remember, which goes back to Korea. I remember listening to the news of the war on the radio with my mother. I remember her talking about it, wondering why in the world we were there in the first place? What did we think we were going to accomplish? I must have been four or five, but I understood. How? Maybe it’s not my first life.

We destabilized Asia. That’s what we did. We are still trying to deal with the consequences. Mom was ahead of her time.

Then, later, I was in my mid-twenties. It was during Vietnam. There were protests and I was involved in some. Not most. I had a little one and a fulltime job, so there were time limitations.  I had friends, a husband, dogs, cats, and a house where sometimes it seemed the immediate nation congregated every evening. A lively social life.

I pointed out to my mother (like I had just discovered this, silly child) if we weren’t sending all that money to make war in Vietnam, there would be money to do things here, at home. Maybe we could do something about healthcare.

My husband and I went effectively bankrupt following my spine surgery and we had insurance. It didn’t cover everything and my surgery — and the four months in the hospital which followed — was wildly expensive. I remember asking Jeff if we didn’t pay them, would they take me upstairs and re-break my back? Because we couldn’t pay. We were going to have to pay them off, month by month for years to come.

Then Owen was born with two club feet. It was the final blow. Wiped out. We never rebuilt our finances. Even way back in the 1960s and ’70s, my issue was healthcare because everyone thought their work insurance was plenty. They hadn’t had a major medical crisis. They would learn.

But, I digress.

My mother raised an eyebrow and looked at me. She said:

Thus spoke my mother. Because cynicism isn’t always wrong.

I was taken aback. I thought she was being too cynical. But you know? She was right.

Wars end and the war-making money vanishes. Never does it go toward healthcare or education. It just disappears as if it never existed and no one seems to question it.

Just once more, I’d like to hear our politicians across party lines look for ways to do what’s best for the country and the people they serve.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all of us!

23 thoughts on “GOOD TIMES, HARD TIMES, AMERICAN PROPAGANDA AND THE PAST – Marilyn Armstrong”

    1. I can’t write this kind of thing all the time either. It’s all this nonsense about “is he REALLY racist or just SORT OF racist-like” on the news. Nauseating. Not that other countries are not going through the same things too … which does NOT make it better. As far as I can see, that the world is going through this nationalist “hate everyone who isn’t just like you” thing makes it all the more dangerous. In many ways, this reminds me of the months before World War 1. And we all know how well that went.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. “Just once more, I’d like to hear our politicians across party lines look for ways to do what’s best for the country and the people they serve.” Ha Ha! 🤣 That’s so funny. Like that’s ever going to happen.

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    1. It used to happen. We had Ted Kennedy and Tipper O’Neill and Bob Dole and LBJ … and they all knew how to reach across and say “Let’s get it done.” Now, NO ONE is willing to make the reach. Governments don’t function like this. Not ours, not England’s, not Holland or Germany or France. If there’s no one with whom others can reason, nations get stuck and the usual outcome is war. Very very ugly.

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  2. I think our generation did a lot of protesting and there were some changes. A lot of bad things happened but a lot of good things too Marilyn. It’s a long process. As for war and its profitability, there has to be karma for that.
    Leslie

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    1. In the midst of this “governments in full stop” mode that is affecting much of the world, “the people” who ought to know what they are talking about — at least on a fundamental level — are screaming “term limitations.” They ought to be crying out for reasonable men and women who WANT TO WORK TOGETHER, even though their parties may have big and serious differences. The ability of people in governments to care enough about their people is the core of government … and we have lost it. Completely. It’s all party politics — here, there, and everywhere.

      IF they don’t care about the good of the country for whom they work, we’ll end the world. If not today, then soon enough.

      Karma is all well and good, but how much misery does this world need to go through before “the good Karma” drops into place? Will we live long enough to see something positive?

      And it isn’t just Trump or May or Trudeau or any specific individual. It’s the rigid alignment of politicians with party above and beyond their alignment with the needs of their people and country. This so closely reminds me of the beginnings of World War 1 which really WAS the “Great War” and from which all the others wars have sprung.

      By the way, I have your movie. I just haven’t gone outside since the heat hit. It’s supposed to break by Sunday night. Then, maybe, I’ll be able to breathe again! Right now, I go outside and I just clog up. That isn’t AIR out there. I don’t know what it is, but it’s not meant for breathing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are so right Marilyn. We have to take a little bit of joy out of each day. We’ve done our best and it really is up to the next generation to carry on.
        We are getting much the same weather here so we’re really laying low. Have you seen the movie An Audience of Chairs? I’m trying to figure out what the main piece of music is.
        Leslie

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  3. Your Boomer generation are the children of mine….the so-called Greatest Generation, and God alone knows why that was so designated, and She isn’t saying a word. I remember a world that always needed “fixing,” and one in which women were, and still are in many areas, never equal to men. Bigotry and prejudice are promoted by fear “of the other” and will probably continue for a long, long time. I see a world now in which technology is both helping and hindering human communication. I see our country being divided under the authority of a mentally ill leader, and good men letting it happen.

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    1. I think people were LESS bigoted in the years when Rome was a republic than they are now. They at least had a policy of including (eventually) new countries and making them part of Rome rather than hating them. Of course that all ended too. Nothing is forever.

      This international “fear of others” is going to kill us all. If we can’t find bridges to one another, there is effectively no real government. We can make all the laws we want, but unless people believe in law and for the most part, live within it because they understand that if they don’t, you’ll wind up in a police state, there’s no hope. The reason this — or any other country — works is because most of the people living in it believe in doing “the right thing” and don’t need a gun pointed at their head to convince them to do it. There aren’t enough cops or guns or prisons to make everyone obey if no one cares enough to try.

      I’d be less worried if it were ONLY the U.S., but it’s not. When this kind of problem starts to become an international trend, I see world wars looming on the horizon.

      Anyway, who ARE the good men these days? I get confused because I often think the best men are the ones to whom we are paying the least attention.

      Back to the dark ages for humankind, but this time, we have mobile phones!

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  4. You truly nailed it. And much the same goes for the UK, though at least we had a National Health Service from 1948 – now about to be sold off to US corporations, and pretty decent state education until it was semi-privatised. We Brits have presented ourselves so very ‘nicely’ over the last century or so. We think we spread light and civilisation wherever we go or have been. We have been thoroughly duped with these big ideas about ourselves. Vested interest rules and we barely see it.

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    1. Vested interests and big corporations ALWAYS win. I think the British — ironic because you taught history better and thus brainwashed more kids — were more effectively duped and are only now beginning to wake up. But I think every country does it, some more effectively than others. Our history is shaped to fit those in power and you’ve got the history to prove your power and I suspect that goes a long way toward convincing young people that you really DID rule the world. Of course, the whole concept of any country “ruling” the world inherently involves military suppression and oppression. You’ve got bagpipes, so that makes it okay. No one has marched better than the British.

      Jeff and I even had a bagpiper at our wedding! It sounded great in that stone church.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s a great image – a piper piping at your wedding. And you’re absolutely right about everything else. We are and were good marchers. Also we are still so class-ridden, so admiring of royalty and riches and what not. So very respectful of false status. And also implicated – because these days the upcoming generations can dream of joining the royal family; princes may now marry ‘out of their class’; anyone can become queen. Totally demented with bells and whistles.

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        1. We don’t have the titles, but we have “them” and the rest of us. You definitely have us on the whole “class” thing. In theory, everyone is equal here. Obviously that’s not even remotely true, but it’s our “legend.” You’ve got the castle and the bagpipes and that long history. We’ve got mountains of money and I guess, lacking ancient traditions, we’ll have to settle for hoping to find a really rich one and get hooked up.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. To date I haven’t encountered a young(er) person who blames the ‘boomers’ for all ills. It may happen. If it does, I’m going to chew the ear off that individual who makes that kind of dumb ass assumption. I’m actually a faux boomer, born at the tail end of that generation. My peers and I don’t have a category really, unless it’s the ‘me’ generation, because those of us who were teens in the 1970s and young adults in the 1980s did a lot of stupid, entitled, self serving crap. As did every other generation before or since. No, nobody in particular is at fault for America’s ills, but nobody much has done anything about them either. Me? I blame those brainless, entitled politicians. I’ve never heard of even one (maybe Jimmy Carter, and he was ineffectual at best) who wasn’t a corrupt, self serving twerp. Maybe those ‘leaders’ did something magnificent AFTER they were in office (Carter again), but where were those sterling qualities and acts of human kindness when they had the opportunity to make a real nation wide difference? I know it’s not black and white as all that, nor nowhere as simplistic too. I’m naive, but not THAT naive.

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