When I decided to write my third book as a humorous history of the United States, I knew I’d hit gold after just a few days of research … from Columbus to the Kennedys, our history reads like a laugh-out-loud 400-volume treatise on bad decisions.
It was these over-and-over-and-over bad decisions that inspired the overall theme. By the year 1969, we should’ve been a wise, kind, wealthy grandfather – rocking on the porch and giving out treats to the neighborhood kids. Instead, we’ve spent the past half century like a thirty-something lottery winner that decides, “Hey, if cocaine is fun, crack must be awesome!”
Shouldn’t we have at least noticed that our nation was founded on the fact the British violated the lesson “Never start a land war in a country across the ocean where resupply is difficult and expensive, especially if your constituents don’t understand the reason for the war, but have to see their best and brightest come home in body bags.”
That massive blunder literally defines the reason we won the American Revolution.
Even though we had that on the first page of America’s Lessons Learned Notebook, we still invaded Afghanistan? A nation populated by generations of men who’ve done nothing but fight guerilla wars to pay the bills? A place nicknamed “The Graveyard of Empires?”
What is our excuse for the past five decades of deranged decision-making? Learning lessons isn’t that hard: Ugg stuck his cave-hand in the fire once, and — voila — lesson learned. Why aren’t we the people kindred souls with Ugg? I mean, the dude was hardly working out String Theory while his hand healed.
Left and Right, a lot of people blame it on politicians — but we’re the ones who elect them. Or lawyers, but we’re the ones hiring them. Perhaps political spending, but we’re the ones with our hands out. Oh, it’s the media, but we’re the ones consuming their news. Maybe schools? We’re the ones who stood by and watch them become what they’ve become.
I think it’s because — in terms of evolution — we’ve had it too easy. We, as a nation, have come so far, so fast, that our brains cannot adjust. We’ve blasted forward through time at such dizzying warp speed, we can’t see anything in the rearview mirror. We’re standing on the shoulders of giants, but believe our 2023 worldview enables us to see further than them — and thus view them as unworthy teachers. We’ve wrapped our necks in duct tape, forever driving ahead, unable to absorb the wisdom that comes from an occasional peek in the rearview mirror.
We are where we are because of our forefathers. Their successes moved us forward, and their mistakes enabled the next generation to learn, improve, and move ahead. As a result, we’re surrounded by decadent luxury, while most of the world is trying to figure out how they are going to find water that won’t poison them.
We the people are light-years ahead of the rest of the world. (Yes, most of Europe is wiping with silk as well, but they lose a lot of points for their dental standards). America’s poor have clothing, food, and — 9 times out of 10 — safe shelter with a television. Our basic middle-class lives like the elite of most nations, complete with car, cable, cell phone, fashionable clothing, vacations and access to restaurants.
Or at least they do for the moment.
Is there anything wrong with this? That we have a nation where 70 percent of us live like royalty?
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No! Our forefathers made it possible — it is our national damn-did-we-get-lucky birthright. But we, the human animal, aren’t ready for it. For two million years we’ve been very, very slowly refining our survival techniques, and suddenly in the past fifty years we’ve come to consider electricity to be necessary for survival.
Well, it’s not. It’s necessary for luxury, and sustaining “the lifestyle to which we’ve become accustomed,” but it ain’t necessary for survival. Ask half the world’s population.
As a member of the middle-class, I relate to the anger amongst most Americans that we are being strangled out of existence. But we’ve been here before — like when the Robber Barons owned Congress and ran the nation with a murderous fist — but we fixed it. We can do so as again.
The fact we are where we are is the ultimate anomaly! It’s the miracle of miracles! The true testament to the brilliance that our Creator endowed us with! We should all be waking up — everyday — and staggering out into the sunlight and shouting, “Thank you, God, Buddha, Allah, Great Spirit, Great Pumpkin, Flying Spaghetti Monster for allowing me to be born in America!”
Nope, we complain … despite the fact that in America, the apex predators that used to eat us are photo ops in National Parks … crops are grown in the grocery store … the cave has been replaced by a cozy little apartment … fire is created at the push of a button … the horse only needs re-shoeing every 40,000 miles … our clothing comes from hides that someone else acquired, tanned, and sewed for us … the weather is of no real consequence … and world-wide communications can be accomplished on a phone or the Internet.
The fact is all the really hard work has been done already – and we’ve become bored and entitled.
Because we don’t have to really take care of ourselves, we no longer take responsibility for ourselves. Everything is “beyond our control,” it seems. Alcoholism, drug addiction, obesity, gambling, pedophilia— these things are all diseases. If in doubt, we sue the manufacturer. If we choose a life of crime, we blame our parents and society. And if we need an opinion, we look to the television to provide it.
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Here, I believe, is the madness of it: We the people are complaining more and more about America, when in fact we are the least victimized people in the world. In America, it takes exactly three generations to go from a black citizen being arrested for riding in the front of the bus to a black man being elected President.
Is this possible in any other nation?
Because they didn’t have Thomas Jefferson and a team of the greatest thinkers in history create their nation from scratch … a group of men who studied governmental systems throughout all of history, saw the mistakes made, and devised a government that, by 1968, should have grown the hell up.
Despite it all — the insights and knowledge and lessons we’ve learned over the centuries — America since 1969 has acted like a punch-drunk, over-the-hill heavyweight. Yes, we’ve made macro advances regarding the rights of minorities and made our lives more luxurious and convenient … but viewed under a microscope, we ain’t getting any Nobel Prizes in the category of, “Hey, that was a great idea.”
I believe my latest book will make you laugh, learn, and better appreciate the absolute hell our forefathers —European, African, Asian, Hispanic, and Indian — went through to simply survive. Hell, in Jamestown, the new arrivals were eating their dead to survive the first winter. The fact they passed along to us a global super-power is damn-near impossible.
The book is titled Where Have All the Cowboys Gone? Madness, Mayhem, and the Making of America.
It is available on Amazon, BN.com, and most on-line book retailers. If you end up wanting to give some “signed and personalized to the recipient” copies as gifts, shoot me an email: TypingForBeerMoney@gmail.com.
I’ve also created a Facebook page to give you a look at the issues the books explores.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Prioleau Alexander is a freelance writer, focusing mostly on politics and non-fiction humor. He is an international advocate for literacy and learning, and shows his commitment to the cause by reminding everyone that books make great gifts. He is the author of four books: ‘You Want Fries With That?,’ ‘Dispatches Along the Way,’ ‘Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?‘ and ‘They Don’t Call It The Submission Process For Nothing.’
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