The Idea of America, by Bill Bonner

Americans are much less free than their “oppressed” ancestors, the ones who rebelled against the king. From Bill Bonner at internationalman.com:

“Elizabeth,” I asked this morning as my wife climbed out of the pool. “How would you describe that sea turtle we saw on the beach?”

Pausing for a moment, she replied, “Rotating its slow and majestic flippers, it ground its way slowly and inexorably toward China…”

The sea turtle was headed east. Whether China was its destination or not, I don’t know. I only know that it was about to leave the Latin America isthmus, from the west coast of Nicaragua, and put out to sea when a muscular, brown young man picked it up and carried it back up on the beach. He and his friends had dug a big hole in the sand where the turtle was placed.

At night, we often see the dim light of flashlights along the beach. “It’s the locals looking for turtle eggs,” Manuel explained. “It’s illegal to take them, but…” Manuel shrugged his shoulders.

Sea turtles are protected by international convention. But here in the wilds of Nicaragua, they still end up in the soup from time to time.

Not the Same America

This is America, too… but it is not the same America. It is the New World… but not as new as the world north of the Rio Grande. Here, the Old World has not yet been snuffed out. It survives in a semitropical paradise.

But the object of our attention today is neither the Old World nor the new one – but the ever-changing, never fully explored idea of America.

“Proud to be an American,” says one bumper sticker. “One nation – indivisible,” says another. America was, of course, founded on the opposite principle… the idea that people were free to separate themselves from a parent government whenever they felt they had come of age. But no fraud, no matter how stupendous, is so obvious as to be detected by the average American. That is America’s great strength… or its most serious weakness.

After September 11, so many people bought flags that the shops ran short. Old Glory festooned nearly every porch and bridge. Patriotism swelled in every heart.

Europeans, coming back to the Old Country, reported that they had never seen anything like it. A Frenchman takes his country for granted. He is born into it, just as he is born into his religion. He may be proud of La Belle France the way he is proud of his cheese. But he is not fool enough to claim credit for either one. He just feels lucky to have them for his own.

To continue reading: The Idea of America

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s