Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas to Us, One and All

If it is true, as Mephistopheles says in "Dr. Faustus" : "The greatest Hell is remembering happier times," then at least some of our countrymen may well yet learn the truth of this observation over the next four years. 

For now, however, we have an economy which works for most of us, but indisputably, the best in the world; we have a health care system which, while very flawed, structurally flawed (because it's based on a private enterprise, profit motive rather than on a public health model), is still 22 million times better than it was just 8 years ago; while we still are caught in the brier patch of eternal war in Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires, we have fewer American boys and girls on the front lines; and while we have  festering lesions of malicious discontent scattered over our backsides and shoulders, we still  have a functioning brain and central nervous system and some functioning brawny muscles, as a nation. Not to say those abscesses cannot seed the blood stream and ultimate infect the central nervous system, but for now, we seem to have a functioning immune system.

One thing we might all do is to read about what the world was like before the 21st century, in ancient times, in the 18th and 19th centuries, and even back in the middle of the 20th century, that time so many Americans in the exurbs and rural parts of the country dream of returning to, when being White meant you had advantages, but for most White families, not enough to matter all that much, because you were still poor and desperate.

My father was a man who often surprised me  with his answers. I loved reading about the Civil War and the Second World War and about all sorts of glorious past epochs, when great forces swept continents and when war was a force which gave lives meaning, and when railroads were being built across the continent linking the nation, and when waves of immigrants flooded into our great cities and into our heartland, spawning the most diverse, energetic and vibrant nation on earth. And, still holding a Bruce Catton volume in my hand, I asked my father, if he had a time machine and could go back to live in any time, what would he choose? King Arthur's time, when he could be a knight?  Franklin's Philadelphia, when the Constitution was being written?  

And he replied, with an atypically benign smile, "The present."  Then he added. "This is the best time on the planet to be a human being."

God Bless Us, one and all.

No comments:

Post a Comment