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.
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:
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.