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Sunday, December 18, 2005

I Sing of Thee

What I've noticed is a tendency in people to generalize non-specifics. That's clear, isn't it. "Generalize non-specifics." Sounds almost like it means something. The specific non-specifics I'm referring to are culture and religion. "Your religion is bad, because your culture is bad." As if there need be a meaningful correlation. Let's take America, for example. What is American culture? Is it hard work, thrift and rugged individualism? Is it tolerance and foreign aid? Is it McDonald's, violent entertainments and ugly angry music? And what of religion? Is American religion truly Christian, or Protestant?

That's where the problem of "non-specifics" comes in. There is no "American culture" or "American religion." There is a Japanese culture and a Japanese religion -- a Norwegian culture and religion -- an Arab culture and religion. Ah! -- you see the connection? The definitive term here is not culture or religion, but Japanese, Norwegian or Arab. We're talking about race. And there is no American race.

To imagine that what we see on TV or in movies is "American" is to imagine that our planet is mostly water. No, its surface is mostly covered with water. An entirely different thing, than the "planet" "being" mostly water. I do not love the "culture" of America as Hollywood imagines it. But that's as much as to say I don't love something that's not real. Who loves what is not real? Who loves lies? Beyond the people we know and love, what else is there to love? Ideals. Principles. The "this is what I stand for" sort of thing.

So I do not need to defend against anyone's incorrect words about what they imagine. In logic, there's the idea of the "straw man" -- set up a false argument or position, then knock it down. One of the things I learned by teaching it to my son, was to never argue about opinions, and to never argue about facts. Why argue about opinions? -- blue is better than yellow! No, yellow is better. No, blue. No, yellow.... And on and on. Why argue about facts? A fact is something that can be demonstrated -- so rather than argue, demonstrate. Simple. And my son laughed, and summed it up: "In other words, never argue." Right. What a wonderful son.

America is beautiful, to me. It's not, to you? There's your opinion, and there's mine. I shall not argue. It really boils down to this: anyone who doesn't love their mother, is not admirable in this. Even if she had many faults. Even if she was a whore. You still should love her. Everyone's country has blotches on its record. But everyone should love their country, because it is the banding-together of the families who live there, and because it is the entity ordained to look after our general welfare. Of course there are criminal regimes, kleptocracies and totalitarians and the like, that simply exploit. But those are governments, not countries.

So when I hear certain people or parties in America revile her in their speech, I hear disloyalty and what is shameful. Even if your mother is a whore, you should honor her, and try to help her. For aliens to hate America is their right -- even though they're wrong. For enemies to say your mother is a whore is to be expected, whether she is one or not. America is no whore -- she is Liberty, and Justice. That's the ideal I was talking about. The reality is that the ideal is polluted with humans and their corrupt human nature. But there you have it -- even the healthiest of men breathe in viruses with every breath.

After we subtract the built-in guarantee of failure, because people are involved, the question everyone has to ask themselves is this: how noble, how upright, how honorable is the system we live in? I think the American Constitution is the most perfect human document ever composed, not because it wasn't flawed -- it took a Civil War to expunge the odious but necessary compromises on slavery -- but because it recognized so perfectly the corruption of human nature, and ensured against it with checks and balances, with separation of powers, with such superb decentralization and federalization.

Where else in the world has there ever been such wisdom? Japan? Norway? Any of the Arab nations? No race could have done such a thing. But America has its origins in something greater than race. And the thing that gave the Founding Fathers their wisdom, is their insight into human nature. They were, all of them, students of the Bible.

J

2 comments:

Sim said...

wow...I just wanted to say...wow. Great work. I really enjoyed "I Sing of Thee"

Jack H said...

Thanks. :-) You're fast. I just put it up. I'm still spell checking it.

J