9.30.2008

And The Past Shall Set You Free

It seems, these days, as though the simple act of looking back is a crime. Who in this generation has time for history, has time to look back to what those who came before said and did, to look back and see the way that they lived?

America is at yet another crossroads, a place where we can choose to change or continue on in the same greedy march to oblivion we struck out on so many years ago.

I wont pretend to be some great historian. I know little of the past, even the recent past (like what happened in America beneath the Reagan Administration). But every so often I stumble across the past. At times it seems to call out to me, and anyone else who is willing to listen, with a distant yet familiar voice.

Just before my friend Pete left for Switzerland he told me of a podcast he had recently been listening to. He ranted and raved about how amazing the Bill Moyers Journal was. It took me nearly three weeks to finally give in and check out this mans podcast. And now that I have I am more than glad I did. The people that Moyers has as guests on his show are well-balanced, straightforward people. They speak to the heart of whatever issue they are talking on and do a very good job at not mincing words.

Recently Moyers had a man on his show named Andrew J. Bacevich. Bacevich has written a book called “The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism”. I’ve yet to read this book but what Bacevich has to say on the show is very applicable to America at this exact point in history. I wont go much into the content of what he has to say here on this post but I will say that Bacevich speaks truth to the many areas I have touched on in the last couple of years: consumerism, sustainability and the sick distortion of what is now meant by the American dream.

I would highly recommend you listen to the show, it just might give you hope and/or change your perspective on how you view life in the States.

In the interview Bacevich refers to a speech given in 1979 by then president Jimmy Carter called the “malaise speech”. I looked up this speech for myself and found it mind boggling to hear a president of the united states actually saying the things he was saying. In effect Carter basically said that if we (Americans) did not stop our addiction to oil and start looking into renewable energy we would be screwed. And boy was he ever right.

But this Carter speech search prompted me to begin looking for speeches given by other past presidents to see what they had to say to the American people. What I found was amazing and disheartening at the same time. I found a speech where JFK is talking about peace, not just peace for Americans or an American version of peace thrust upon the rest of the world but a real, obtainable peace.

I also found a speech delivered by Dwight Eisenhower warning Americans of the growing power of the industrial military complex.

In hearing all of these voices from the past speak words that America not only needed to hear then but so desperately needs to hear now I began to wonder, and not for the first time, how did we get here from there?

Why did those warnings of a military complex go unheeded, why did we not choose peace when it was offered, why did we not look to alternative forms of energy when presented with these alternative solutions?

Why did our now president George Bush tell us shortly after the Trade Towers went down on September 11th to, “go shopping, take your family to Disney world”? Why was this the best advice this man could give us? With leadership like this why do we wonder how we are in a financial crisis?

If you’re not sick at what this country has become then you must not be paying a damn bit of attention.

4 Comments:

Blogger Lisa said...

yeah, it blows my mind how people will act like conservation and alternative energy are newfangled hipster ideas or something.

man...what happened to this country.

10:27 PM  
Blogger wilsonian said...

Great post.

3:02 PM  
Blogger Corey said...

Lisa, so true.

Wilsonian, thanks. glad you liked it.

7:32 PM  
Blogger kelsey lee said...

this post takes me back to my "american history from 1944 to the present" class. we read all those speeches and even excerpts from another book by Andrew J. Bacevich called The New American Militarism. i found that class really helpful when trying to understand what has happened to America... I can't say I remember everything I learned but I remember enough.

9:22 PM  

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