Ramblings Late at Night, Looking into the Darkness

Probably most of you have seen these, but if not they may amuse you:

As we infantilize ourselves. (I view this somewhat ruefully because, unlike apparently most of  the Chicagoboyz, I’m totally incompetent.  Last New Year’s Day my brother walked into our kitchen, asked what was wrong with the sink – I said we were going to phone a plumber after the holiday.  He looked at it, climbed under the sink, screwed the head on the hose, and it has worked ever since.)

The friend who forwarded that (who I might say is skilled at both dressing for success and hacking down a tree, at editing a paper and remodeling a room) sent two sons to the first Gulf War and one of them forwarded this to her. 

And this rant is cheerful (even if the Iowa Trades are not likely to make us feel the sentiment is as widespread as we’d like).

Our schools, which we have criticized so often and so thoroughly, are in the hands of those who believe, read, and honor Bill Ayers.  It isn’t that we don’t know the goal of any education initiatve under Obama. 

But Jonathan (and Assistant Village Idiot whom he quotes) assume that we will be an Army of Davids, educating ourselves.  The Kindle & the Teaching Company are re-imagining that old tradition of the Lyceum groups and later Chatauqua ones.   Book clubs are reinvigorating an old tradition: my mother went to her monthly literary club (Readmore it was called); my father and the local Lutheran minister led others in their monthly Great Books Club.  In a town of 500 in the middle of the middle west, the fifties were alive in ways that we sometimes forget (especially, perhaps, we boomers who often assume the world was gray until we arrived on the scene to give it some color).

The future – our retirement, our schools (education under Obama bother me the most) – seems a bit bleak. But America has survived a Civil War and many depressions, it assimilated millions of immigrants at the turn of the last century, then fought as one through two world wars and a cold one.  We didn’t elect Henry Wallace.  If we had, we’d still be America.  Our constitution might be challenged, but it has not grown ragged in well over 200 years.    

Maybe we won’t recognize what we have until we are very, very close to losing it.  And perhaps it wil be that desire to learn outside  the academy that will help us become aware of what we might lose – certainly I found “Founding a Republic of Virtue” a real counterweight to American “imperialism.”  If we retain self-reliance and our belief in the open marketplace of ideas, those old ideas may prove themselves, yet again.

And self-reliance, accepting the challenges as tests not as defeats is an old story the Puritans and  Federalists, for all their differences, understood.  Later, in the American Renaissance, writers tried to puzzle out loyalties:  torn between their affection for not only Americans but the U.s. itself, but also to American values the government sometimes beautifully embodied – but sometimes betrayed in ugly ways.  Those were the old guys; listen to John Adams after the Declaration of Independence was signed,

It may be the will of Heaven that America shall suffer calamities still more wasting and distressing yet more dreadful. If this is to be the case, it will have this good effect, at least: it will inspire us will many virtues, which we have not, and correct many errors, follies, and vices, which threaten to disturb, dishonor, and destroy us. The furnace of affliction produces refinement, in states as well as individuals. And the new governments we are assuming, in every part, will require a purification from our vices and an augmentation of our virtues or they will be no blessings. The people will have unbounded power. And the people are extremely addicted to corruption and venality, as well as the great. I am not without apprehensions from this quarter, but I must submit all my hopes and fears to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as the faith may be, I firmly believe.

A little over a year ago I quoted Mac McAnally’s lyricsPerformed by Sawyer Brown, they come back to me again – and I wonder how close we will have to come to losing “it” before the country as a whole (or at least a majority) realizes “how much” it is we stand to lose. 

But then, again, fifteen years ago I would have thought gun control was a good idea.  Now, I see that those rights are bound together, reinforcing and strengthening each other.  If it took me this long, how can I be critical of those around me who accept an NPR view – I did for so long.    But, of course, I was wrong – and they are, too.

5 thoughts on “Ramblings Late at Night, Looking into the Darkness”

  1. Note: The “Lyrics” link wasn’t working. I think you’ve inadvertently included a “.” (period) at the end of the link.


    I’m not much for country, but the lyrics are definitely nice.

    Frankly, I could see the schisms in this country breaking it apart into Red USA and Blue USA. And I’m not sure that would *NOT* be a Good Thing… I think a lot of us realize and appreciate what we have, but there are a large chunk who don’t, and most of them live in Blue-Purple states. And I suspect that if there is a breakup, there may be a reunification later, since I know where the Blue state crap leads.

    This is inarguably the greatest dissension the USA has had since the Civil War, and I don’t know that it’s going to get “enough better” that, even if it briefly subsides with the passing of all the Boomers (who are at the heart of it all), their legacy — indoctrinated children for a generation or more — is likely to roll back around in a decade or so, as the Gen-Xers (who, in the aftermath of Watergate, are a lot more sensible) fade, we might see a resurgence in liberal idiocy yet again.


    In truth, this all started as a result of WWI:
    What We Lost In The Great War
    by John Steele Gordon (1992 American Hereitage)

    Seventy-five years ago this spring a very different America waded into the seminal catastrophe of the twentieth century. World War I did more than kill millions of people; it destroyed the West’s faith in the very institutions that had made it the hope and envy of the world….


    I believe the Left’s poisonous self-hatred and determination towards self-destruction lies 94 years in the past, and Gordon’s article, in retrospect, is very relevant to beginning to understand that.

    I think we need to face that, and make it clear, in order to neutralize the poisonous memes buried within. I believe that dealing with that poison is the only chance we have. It is a corruption, a rot, decaying us, darkening our works and inducing despair where it has no business being — We, the descendants of Greek Civilization and ideals, face two new challenges this century, one highly visible, the other more subtle — Islamofascism and The Rise of China.

    If we intend to weather either one, and come out as, if not the dominant force, but at least as an equally respected meme, we have to rid ourselves of that self-hatred buried within the ideals of the Left, which has been steadily corrupting itself and everything it is associated with for almost a century now. It is wrongheaded in the extreme, and there is no doubt in my mind that it could — and will — doom us all, if it continues to fester. There is no question that the West has things to be guilty of, up and down the spectrum of human evils — but the simple fact is, it is a set of human institutions, and thus, will ALWAYS be guilty of various evils. The question is not one of “Are We Guilty?” — it is instead one of “Are We Any More Guilty Than Anyone Else?”. If the answer to that latter is “no” — and I argue that it is indeed “no” — then we have nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to hate ourselves for. We certainly should act to improve ourselves, and our systems, to work to eliminate those flaws and mistakes and stupidities which lead us to errors and harm. But as long as we don’t devolve into self-satisfied smugness at our superior accomplishments, as once happened in the West, we can, and will, continue to improve ourselves and make ourselves a society — and a set of memes — worthy of inclusion in the human endeavor.

  2. So, Bush won in 2004 and lots of people said, ‘hey, I’m going to move to Canada,’ and were properly ridiculed for having so little faith in the democratic project.

    Now, McCain is likely to lose and I keep seeing, ‘hey, the red and blue states are gonna split,’ here and there and I think, ‘I don’t like this. It seems irresponsible.’

    What we have was so hard fought – I have to say I don’t care for the splitting up talk at all.

  3. I think it should rub you the wrong way – it’s pretty much a truth that the Civil War was fought over slavery, but that doesn’t mean that Lincoln didn’t argue repeatedly and fervently that his job was to keep the union together because if it split the world would believe that democracies just weren’t a practical form of government.

    If we still value democracy then the same attitude is important today – that we can show how people from widely divergent backgrounds can find consensus and, at least in some major ways, understand and value priorities they share. And since I’m a bit of a chameleon, at times I’ve been on different sides of this divide – I don’t want to reject people like me. My family has pro-Obama supporters – I don’t want any civil war that leaves my daughters on separate soil than my husband and me. (Not that I don’t question how much they’ve thought through those positions.)

    Also, dismissing others relieves us from finding that compromise, actually listening to the other side. I don’t all that much, but I do think I should.

    It is true, however, that projects like Acorn’s are dangerous; these phony registration drives can only be encouraged by people who don’t value the core strengths of a democratic system. That is worrisome.

  4. > Also, dismissing others relieves us from finding that compromise, actually listening to the other side. I don’t all that much, but I do think I should.

    Compromises only work when both sides are willing to compromise. The widespread prevalence of BDS, the demonization of everything the GOP stands for, in the face of a blatant threat like Islamofascism….

    The determination to use techniques which have not only failed repeatedly, but which have CLEARLY never worked — not once — like socialism.

    The claim of racism and sexism everywhere, when the only ones consistently displaying either are the Dems themselves.

    Sorry, I don’t see much of a chance of reconciliation with them any more. I’m not planning on being the one to start it, but sooner or later, someone is going to — and that will be a seed crystal around which the rest happens. It’s even more likely if Obama wins.

    I don’t think it will stay that way — we have too much in common — but the fact of the matter is, they need an entire generation raised with this stupidity all around them to shock them out of being “stuck on stupid”. They’ve been allowed to think that nothing bad can happen to them as a result of the culture they’ve grown up in that has endlessly sheltered them from the consequences of their stupidities.

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