Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Future Is All But Past

Bumped to keep this article on top today.

This song was playing in my head when I got up today:

It was a love song to America that was produced by the rock band Styx while I was in college. In some ways, it seems almost hopefully naive now, and yet strangely prescient:
Once long ago, a word from your lips
And the world turned around
But somehow you've changed, you're so far away
I long for the past and dream of the days
With you, madame blue

Suite madame blue, gaze in your looking glass
You're not a child anymore
Suite madame blue, the future is all but past
Dressed in your jewels, you made your own rules
You conquered the world and more, heaven's door, oh

Elyrics: Suite Madame Blue
Great art can often have meanings its creators never intended. Back then, it seemed that America was destined to lead the world to a better place. We'd just gone to the Moon, for what now looks like the last time. We'd taken care of a disturbing aberration in our nation's commitment to being a government of laws, or so we thought. What that song and Watergate both turned out to be was a harbinger of our decline into the frightened and corrupt nation we are now. (Isn't it just a sign of the times that I used the keyword Democrats to find that last link?) As Bob Herbert wrote in his final column in The New York Times:
Arthur Miller, echoing the poet Archibald MacLeish, liked to say that the essence of America was its promises. That was a long time ago. Limitless greed, unrestrained corporate power and a ferocious addiction to foreign oil have led us to an era of perpetual war and economic decline. Young people today are staring at a future in which they will be less well off than their elders, a reversal of fortune that should send a shudder through everyone.

The U.S. has not just misplaced its priorities. When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely.

Losing Our Way
America was never perfect - just ask the people whose ancestors were here before Columbus accidentally bumped into the place. But, back when I was growing up, we wanted to be better. We clearly don't anymore.

What a difference a few decades can make.

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