To judge from the history of mankind, we shall be compelled to conclude that the fiery destructive passions of war reign in the human breast with much more powerful sway than the mild and beneficent sentiments of peace; and that to model our political systems upon speculations of lasting tranquility would be to calculate on the weaker springs of human character.
– Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 34, January 4, 1788.
This is possibly one of my greatest possessions. I bought it 2 years ago, but haven’t watched it until recently. I was waiting for a moment when I had enough time as I knew it was something to be taken seriously and not just put on will I did other things.
Gary Sinise is the narrator for the general film and a number of other actors narrate the stories of the people who are highlighted in the film. The footage is all top class. Having seen a great many WWII documentaries I’ve seen countless hours of film over the years and yet much, if not all, of what is features here is new to me.
The film is an emotional roller coaster. You’ll feel pride in America, and the people who’s stories you hear, and you’ll feel sad and grossed-out at the scenes of death and wounding. There are a number of scenes that made me squirm just a bit. I dislike watching sports injuries because I can almost feel the pain(Joe Theismann), so seeing bandages removed and the burnt, mangled bodies beneath them is unpleasant, but something that should be seen. There is an interesting part in the film when Robert Sherrod, a reporter with the Marines at Tarawa, told FDR that a documentary on the events should be shown uncensored to show people the reality of the far off war. Roosevelt had to approve the documentary, which he did, because the material was to harsh for producers to release.
However don’t get the impression the film is all blood and guts. Most of the footage is nothing of the sort.
One of the more interesting things to see is the early training cuts. When draft reportees are being drilled and can barely march, let alone hold a rifle. They literally are a bunch of klutzes. Added to that many scenes with shirtless GI’s who cut an unimpressive figure and you wonder just how they managed to win on two fronts. It says something about the world when millions and millions of uncoordinated and wimpy looking kids were each given a gun, tank, or airplane without any experience with such things and yet today kids who grow up with their hands on everything imaginable in the form of toys and videogames can’t be trusted with a slingshot. It’s not even just the kids, but all of society that apparently can’t be trusted. My how standards have fallen.
It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors.
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17, 1781.
America is doomed, that much is true. Simply speaking in economic terms the United States of America cannot sustain its current debt load for more than a short-term future. The question is how long that short-term future will last. It’s not a matter of if, but when.
Except there are more questions than just that. Namely what will happen to America when that time comes? No national government in history has simply given up, conceded without a fight, folded its cards. They always make a last-ditch effort, attempt further negotiations, perhaps a few might even try to flee as if that continues their experiment. They don’t simply admit that they failed and step aside for others to take over and try to fix things. They have a blessed life with their power and privilege and no person would so willingly give that up.
I’m not saying that as a preface to armed revolution, that if they refuse to leave under the circumstances that they have to be forcefully removed. Rather I’m saying that when a government crashes it doesn’t just stop, but it also loses its legitimacy. How can a nation that has bankrupted itself financially (and arguably morally) and completely shattered its allusion of honor survive? How can it maintain its claim of power and privilege?
The answer is that they can easily retain that power and privilege if the nation they govern is soft, and weak as well as shallow and unprincipled.
Even in the face of a complete and utter failure of government in the United States the government may very easily retain its legitimacy because the people of the United States do not care.
They don’t care that the banks and lending institutions have scammed them out of billions and then asked the government to pay them back. Not so they could in turn pay you back, but to pay themselves back. Americans also don’t care that the people who allowed the banks to operate so recklessly to begin with are the same people who paid them back those banks the money of yours that they lost which they still haven’t given to you and never will.
Facebook is the perfect representation of America and Americans. Only there can you have thousands of people you avoid and still call them friends. Never talk to them, spend time with them, have discussions with them, or bond with them. No we are simpler than that. We are satisfied that we can share an image and along with it our political ideas. Explaining it takes too much time, sharing it personally and passionately is too much work. Share and like. Share and like. That is the ultimate value we’ve given to our lives. Living it is almost certainly out of the question. Why spend your life engaged in hobbies of personal interest when you can talk about a television show with your coworkers because that’s simply the thing we’re supposed to do.
Sadly American society has the depth of a fish pond but considers itself an ocean. Where is the anger, where is the passion, where is the pride, one might even settle and say where is the concern? Greece and Spain for example have been regularly swamped with protesters for the past several years as the people there resist cuts to the government. They may be standing up for the ability to be paid for doing little to no work, but at least they are standing up for something. You may laugh at them for being ridiculous in their standards but at least they have standards and are fighting for them.
What have we done in America? Where are the protests? Anger, passion, pride, concern, do these traits not exist in Americans? Do we not care what our government does? Do we not care that many of our jobs have left and are not coming back? Do we not care that our money has provided us with less and less goods not just in the past 5 years but in the past 40? Do we not care that we are promised everything and reguarly given nothing by our leaders? The ship is sinking for all of us. Liberal or conservative we are all failing. Is it worth the consolation prize of being on the side of the ship that went down with the most goodies?
Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville is a highly respected chronicle of life in America. It has long been a reference on the culture and character in the American system. However that chronicle is not without its criticisms of America. Mr. Tocqueville recognized that although America was a great nation with immense power and potential it was capable of being tripped up. That in its quest for glory the people of America could be fooled into thinking they were receiving something more than what they were actually getting. That over time they would trade the value of life for comfort. His words seem to have been accurate on the matter.
I seek to trace the novel features under which despotism may appear in the world. The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men, all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives. Each of them, living apart, is as a stranger to the fate of all the rest; his children and his private friends constitute to him the whole of mankind. As for the rest of his fellow citizens, he is close to them, but he does not see them; he touches them, but he does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone; and if his kindred still remain to him, he may be said at any rate to have lost his country.
For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?
Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things;it has predisposed men to endure them and often to look on them as benefits.
The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.
Is that what America has become? Are we so comfortable and fascinated with our own lives that we don’t care that we’re led around on a leash? Sure we are still “free”, we can decide for ourselves, but what is there left to choose? And are they even choices any more or merely options?
Is that what America has become? I for one certainly hope not because I was raised to think that America was a great nation full of great and interesting people. Free yourself from the burden of constant comfort and live for happiness instead. Use the time in your life to engage yourself in the things you are truly interested in. Be yourself, you’ll never be happy being like everyone else, and how comfortable can you be when your life is dull and unfulfilling. Live for happiness in yourself and I promise you will still be plenty comfortable.
How far has America fallen? What is an apt comparison to describe the fall from the greatest nation on earth to one that can barely function? I can’t think of one.
Let’s look at a moment at the current status of the world and ponder.
Russia is, at the least, balkanizing Ukraine while extorting the rest of Europe for natural gas. Venezuela is on full on riot mode. There was a coup in Thailand(again). Africa continues to conflagrate beyond its normal standards. Iraq is beginning to the struggle of bearing its own weight. China keeps hacking away at us and stealing every blueprint or patent that isn’t nailed down. Russia is rekindling its relationship with Cuba. North Korea mocks us by taking us for our ride with its nuclear threats. And so much more it’s ridiculous. While our government grows fatter while its service winnows to ever impressive levels of non-existence.
And while this goes on, what does the average American think? If you pulled someone aside and asked them about the world what would they say? They might have a moment of clarity and remember those tweets about #bringbackourgirls, and say something about how bad that is while not knowing a lick about it. If this person is an advanced member of society they might even say something about the stock markets closing at record highs. That would be remarkable, it would also be remarkable if the US could recover a Marine who got himself lost in Mexico, but no we can’t even manage that anymore.
More than likely that citizen you pulled aside would be the guy on his cell phone talking about the NBA playoffs. Oh their 3-point shooting was off, good to know. I’m glad you can spend 20 minutes talking about basketball to someone as equally as irrelevant as you for I would be disappointed if this country were to actually try and accomplish something instead of parroting the talking heads of ESPN.
Or perhaps it is the young lady( I use that term as a noun with no sincerity), who cannot help but take pictures of everything she and her friends do and upload them to facebook. Look we went to the pool today, look we ate food, look we’re in a car. Why it’s almost as if you did those same things every weekend, i’m sure glad you documented it all so I can differentiate between the identical activities you partake in regularly.
Oh America you silly nation. Keep your eyes closed because you don’t want to see where you’re going.
The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether or one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.
James Madison, Federalist, 48, February 1, 1788.
They accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of human society. They reared the fabrics of governments which have no model on the face of the globe. They formed the design of a great Confederacy, which it is incumbent on their successors to improve and perpetuate.
– James Madison, Federalist No. 14, November 30, 1787.
Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? It is feared, then, that we shall turn our arms against each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American…The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.
A Pennsylvanian, The Pennsylvania Gazette, February 20, 1788.