#history · America · history · point of view · politics · riff

The 4th of July

376px-arthur_szyk_1894-1951-_thomas_jeffersons_oath_1951_new_canaan_ct
Arthur Szyk (1894-1951). Thomas_Jefferson’s Oath (1951), New Canaan, CT

Who needs civil liberties? The rights of our citizens were hard-won. Freedom did not just emerge from the blood and sweat of the Revolutionary War in documents of federation and constitutional laws. Some Americans had many more years to struggle to see their rights recognized. Many of our privileges evolved in the amendments to our Bill of Rights over the 3 centuries since that war established a United States.

The simple single answer is we all do. Remembering, as always, that with rights come responsibilities.

Sometimes it is not possible to quell the anger, fear and hatred of a policeman who stops a citizen for a tail-light violation. Situations get out of hand. The driver is arrested.

Many of the folks incarcerated have committed only the crime of “driving while black.” Responsible parents in the Afro-American community teach their children how to mitigate the outcomes of this very serious circumstance. It is one which affects the statistic in which 14% of a county’s population are prosecuted or jailed for more than 50% of the crimes committed there.

When 14% of a county’s population in places like Mississippi, for instance, are prosecuted for more than half the crimes committed in that county, it looks like that 14% are the bad seed. Looks can be deceiving. Statistics like these are clearly skewed. They are also deceiving.

 

#history · #living · #loss · #observation · education · theater

Je ne regrette rien

Tamara_Beck_1
Lost in thought?

It is a challenge to live life without remorse. There is always something you should have said, or could have done differently, better to remind you that you are merely mortal.

Nonetheless, I have so few regrets, at least of things I failed to do. One big one is not having had georgraphy classes while attending a school with a world-class program. Taking the opportunity to learn more about urban planning reminds me also of some of my failings in predicting Tony winners. (See my 2014, If/Then expectations, for instance. The play is about an urban planner, so I am not digressing too far afield. It is also about regrets, or paths not taken and choices made.)

The misguided Tony picks, however, are sins of commission that I do not really rue. I enjoy placing my annual bet (as I did this year at The Wright Wreport and for several years before that as well, almost always with less than a perfect score.) I also truly love the theater and the opportunities I get to be in the audience.

Not having had a shot at a career which shapes cities is a genuine lament. The college I attended, Clark University, set a terrific path for those wishing to pursue it. It never occurred to me to do so. I think I associated Geography with something very boring, like reciting the names of capital cities. (The latter is now the name of a pop duo, apparently. Times change.) There is something for which to pay penance and act in contrition.

In four years of sometimes lackadaisical, occassionally rigorous intellectual pursuit, I never set foot in any of the classes this academic discipline offered.  In fact, I doubt that I even set foot in that department’s building. I temper this regret with my memories of a very fine education and a grand gregarious experience. To make up for my own inattention to the Geo. Dept., I always tell the perspective students I interview about Clark’s excellent reputation in Geography. If I steer one of them in the direction of this line of study,  then I will feel absolution for overlooking the chance of a lifetime.

#Facts · #history · America · as apple pie · estrangement · ethics · Famous · history · lies · P.O.V. · point of view · politics · power · Reconstruction · riff · truth · two sides to every story

How was the west won?

1.Camp_Cook's_Troubles_by_Charles_Marion_Russell
By Charles Marion Russell – http://slowtrigger.com/CharlesRussell/A%20Bronc%20to%20Breakfast,%201912,%20Oil%20on%20canvas.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1603824

Reconstruction was the period in American history when the country sought to heal the wounds of a civil war. “Civil” war is such a deceptive phrase, really. Really? It is probably the very definition of an oxymoron.

Our Pledge of Allegiance was one of the products of reconstruction. It was used as a symbol of the nation’s unity.

During that war from 1860 to 1864, the country was divided, fighting under two separate flags, not for liberty or justice, but for the sovereign right of one part of this nation to earn its living by enslaving human beings. Since that project, slavery, slipped away, Americans turned to “taming” the west, which turned out to be a project in which it was necessary to kill off as many Indians as possible. Native American tribes stood in the way of our country’s westward progress. We couldn’t have that, and fighting them off their lands became an all-American enterprise.

The wild west was so called not because of all the nightclubbing and disco parties, but because of the untempered vunityiolence it allowed, even encouraged.

#history · business · Daily Prompt · riff

Intern

via Daily Prompt: Apprentice

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Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6498898

Once upon a time, you learned a trade, the one that once upon a time would last you your lifetime, by standing beside a master. Those times are gone, but we still apprentice ourselves.

We intern for the summer in the hopes that XSZ Corp. will hire us in the fall after graduation. Apprenticeships are about learning how the world of work operates and how we can work with that world.

 

#history · #life-is-short · #loss · #observation · disrupt · politics · riff

In the garden

Let’s imagine a world of peace and harmony. Now imagine who (or what) would want to disrupt such a calm prospect.

Are we in the garden of Eden? Does it require a devil (or THE DEVIL) to tear it all apart?

Who would not want to live a life of quiet tranquility? Would you want to trade in complete serenity for disorder and chaos?

#history · courtesy · culture · inspirations · opinions · origins · P.O.V. · politics · power · reason · riff · two sides to every story

Speaking of perfect

Our great America

376px-arthur_szyk_1894-1951-_thomas_jeffersons_oath_1951_new_canaan_ct
By Arthur Szyk (1854-1951)– The Arthur Szyk Society, Burlingame, CA (www.szyk.org) CC BY SA 4.0, https://commons.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44358259

 

Most of us either never learned, have forgotten or misremember most of the American story. Much of what we learned was likely from popular culture, at the movies not in the classroom.

Films of Indians warring cowboys or cavalry don’t do much to fill in the blanks missing in our knowledge. Generally the American cinema portrays a heroic expansion because as Americans we like to think of ourselves as good. The ideal of perfection is hard to attain, and John Wayne or Pistol Pete don’t give us an accurate picture.

History does not always paint a pretty picture

The impulse to be just is also the impulse of perfectibility that has made America great. We move towards the better, hoping for the best. We progress towards the ideal.We want to be fair; we aspire to decency. Our history is one of striving for the better for all our citizens.

We need to see the forging of the United States of America as a picture of struggle and achievement.

Musicals, even the well-researched like 1776, Hamilton, and for a bit of worldliness, Les Miz, can’t make historians of us anymore than the movies can. Even when they are rooted in events, their focus is not sufficient to make up for the deficiencies in our education.

Democracy

What we do learn from both Hamilton and 1776 is that it took a lot of smart men (no women, but I digress) many months of hard work to come up with our America. The Constitution is an unprecedented document, built on enlightment values. It was written for democracy, with diplomacy and compromise.

The Constitution was not perfect, and America, ever striving, has added Amendments to the original. These Amendments improve on the freedoms granted its people, her citizens. Progress requires that we keep improving. It is, by definition, a moving forward.

As Americans we should be steeped in the spirit in which our country was founded.