Our Parent’s World did not Work
And not only that, but their parent’s world did not work either. One has to go back in American history to the end of the 18th Century, when America was founded, to find an America that worked. It almost didn’t pass its first big test, the Constitutional Convention – which only put off the problem of slavery until later.
The contrast between Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson was so amazing I cannot understand why is it noticed more often. With Jackson, Americans turned their back on the Enlightenment – and concentrated on destroying the Indians, and one of the finest wildernesses in the world. Americans became destructive, and they haven’t stopped being that.
My source for understanding America in the 19th Century is Susan Jacoby’s Freethinkers. I also have Golden Dreams, about California’s golden years in the 20th Century. In either case, I am astonished by how much has been lost.
Equally astonishing, however, is our denial of all this. My father used to brag about how much his generation had done for future generations – he probably got this from reading the Reader’s Digest, which is about all he ever read. My siblings absolutely refuse to admit their parent’s generation was a failure. To me, nothing could be more obvious – and this knowledge is where we should be starting from.