Random Ramblings on September 11, 2011
written by Monique Pilgrim-Pruitt
I genuinely believe that I was born a Jeffersonian Democrat.... seriously, I cannot remember a time when Jefferson's ideals, heavily influenced by French philosophers, did not dictate my world view. There was no time in my life when I did not know what I believed. There must be reincarnation, or divine education or something because I have just always “known.” I am entirely sure that I did not learn these things from the adults in my young life, because I started arguing with all of them about the way the world should be by the time I was three....... Just what everyone needs, a precocious, politically minded three year old who is going to tell you how the world should be run, and wants to grow up to be a diplomat, or the Toothfairy, whichever job is open at the time......
My family background is extremely diverse, my mother is German, my grandparents brought my mother, her twin sister and their two brothers to this continent in 1953 seeking, what else, The American Dream. I am happy to say that my grandparents accomplished their dream. My father's family is part of my great unknown, they come from Mississippi and I know very little about them except that's where I get my striking blue eyes, my freckles and my sense of humor. They have been in this country much longer, but that's all I've got on them.
Anyway, back to present time, today is the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the failed attempt at the White House. Almost 3,000 people died on that day..... It was America's second “Day that shall live in infamy” and the U.S.A. is still shaking.
Just like with Pearl Harbor, 9/11/01 is a scar that will never completely heal. Part of the reason that the scars are so deep and so profound is because our country is very young. Rome has scars that make 9/11 look much smaller and less significant, London endured nightly air raiders for years, the people slept in the subways, went to work in the morning and sent their children to live in the country so they could have some kind of a life. My own grandmother gave birth to my uncle in a German hospital during an American bombing raid and almost bled to death because there were wounded coming in.
9/11 and Pearl Harbor hit us so hard because we have never been taken over and run by a bigger, badder bully...... Every other nation in this world has had to succumb to foreign rule, we have not..... We could not believe that anyone really hated us badly enough to try to change us and take over what we have...... Hello, for centuries that was just how life went..... Look at our language, English, a language that exists only because the British Isles were invaded so many times, by so many people that they had to combine all the spoken languages and come up with some common way to communicate, English is an amalgamation of invading languages.......... Yet we, as England's upstart, snot nosed, younger, albeit larger, sibling think that we should be exempt from the historical pains of the rest of the world. I am not making light of what our country has been through, and I would never discount the lives lost for this nation, I am just saying that the amount of American blood shed since July 4th, 1776 is a drop in the enormous bucket of international blood that has been shed. Our wounds are new, our losses are fresh. We come from countries that have been fighting with each other for thousands of years, we are babies, and we have a lot to learn.
We are young, and not very tough. We may have the best military in the world, but we are not the strongest country in the world. Thomas Jefferson knew this, that's why he flipped out when he got home from France to find the Constitution written, but seriously lacking....... Our founders had a dream, a vision, a plan and a lot of heart and intestinal fortitude, but they came dangerously close to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The way I see it, we are standing on the porch, bathtub in hand, baby still in it, getting ready to do some tossing, again...... The frightening part is that the Constitution has already been written and Thomas Jefferson is not in France. We have allowed our government to become something it was never intended to be, yet none of us know what events need to occur to realign it.
For a few weeks, after 9/11/01 we all drew together and were one in a way that hadn't been seen in 60 years.... That lasted until the shock wore off..... then we were in a Boston Tea Party or Harper's Ferry mindset, “We must do something! We must do something to draw attention, something to be a catalyst, we must do something!! Even if it is wrong!!” We did something, now what?
In the last 5 years our economy has collapsed, we are carrying on a war on two fronts, (correct me if I am wrong, but historically, a two fronted war has been a bad thing, right up there with invading Russia in the winter.) Our government is so far removed from being “Of the People, for the People and by the People” that I am sure there is a huge historical “FACEPALM” going on in “Founding Father Heaven.” I actually expect an invasion of Founding Father and Influential Philosopher ghosts to come down and kick our collective asses at any time! I think Thomas Jefferson would introduce himself to President Obama, express his approval of a person of color in the Oval Office then look at him and say, “Pardon me Mr. President, but WHAT THE HECK HAVE YOU GUYS DONE WITH WHAT WE BUILT??? More importantly, what are you and the PEOPLE, yes the PEOPLE, not the politicians, going to do about it?? Oh, and were you absent on the day your history teacher covered my beliefs on SMALL government???? Because, really, I mean REALLY???” I am quite sure FDR will be standing behind Obama saying “I get it son, you HAD to do something, I know.....” and patting him on the shoulder. Eleanor and Teddy Roosevelt will be there too saying “Man up!! It's true, you need to do something, but not this!”
In our own history, and if we cross the pond; economic and political situations such as the one's we are in currently in have lead to revolution...... They were bloody and bad, we don't like bloody and bad, so we wrote into our Constitution the right to peacefully change our government, but what we don't have is anyone like our founding fathers to show up and lead us, add to that the fact that our country has become just what we hoped we would be, socially, religiously and economically diverse, and we have a problem...... So are diverse that we can never agree on anything, we lack a unifying force.......
Do I have a sound, all encompassing answer? No, I do not; however, I do have an understanding of history, and I know that people do not feel compelled to act and make drastic changes until they are extremely uncomfortable, uncomfortable to the point of serious pain. The United States of America does not like pain, we do not like to see anyone or anything suffer. Our country was created to end suffering and discomfort, to end religious persecution, to end foreign rule, to end excessive taxation, to end injustice in the court system, to create rights, to create opportunity, and to give hope; for a very long time we did just that. We still have a higher standard of living than a good portion of the world's population, we have a social safety net that is in place and we have an entertainment industry that is the envy of the civilized world. We are generous to a fault, and selfish to an extreme, we want to help “those less fortunate” yet we will not act to help ourselves. We will write a check to feed someone, but we do not know where our own food comes from. We have too much food, and not enough health, we have money for video games, but not for education, we have time to go to watch TV and complain, but not enough time to become informed and vote. We complain about our government and elected officials, yet only an average of 50% of those eligible to vote do......
Quite simply, we are not uncomfortable enough to take action, we are like the wealthy Romans under Marcus Aurelius, we know that the government is broken, yet we are not yet compelled to fix it..... We are still too fat and happy and we continue to feed our politicians, who are much too complacent, they know how to work us, they are masters of persuasion, masters in the art of ethos, logos and pathos, and we continue to be their puppets, we continue to be Oliver Twist, we continue to be less than we can be and we say to our government, “Thank you very much sir. May I have some more?”