This is Going to be Good for You

When someone tells you this, alarm bells should be ringing in your head. We have been told this so many times, and disappointed so many times, we should have learned something. We should simply say BS, or something more vulgar.

But we don’t – we have been brain-washed to accept, even demand, unlimited optimism. This has given us split personalities – the official optimistic self, and the deeper pessimistic one.

When the deeper one shows up, we are surprised by it – but at the same time, relieved that it has finally spoken up – and expressed who we really are.

Let me put this in a practical context. Back in 1962, I attended the U of Missouri for a semester. There I met John Neihardt, a tiny guy but friendly – with a unusual personality. I took his class, where he read his epic poetry – about the Winning of the West.

Epic poetry, that goes right back to the Iliad, is about heroic deeds. And let’s face it – war, with women playing a limited role – as in Helen of Troy.

Neihardt’s family had been involved in the takeover of Indian land. The Indians were conquered, and their land taken from them. Surveyors, such as George Washington, determined where the land boundaries were – and the land was then sold. In a process that did not invite close scrutiny. But in any case, the prices were low.

Pioneers, as they were called, bought the land, and then improved it – usually by cutting down the trees. And then resold it – making a tidy profit, that was quickly absorbed by their large families. And then moved west, and repeated the process. This was how Abraham Lincoln got started.

As you can see, this was an ugly process – but something that Neihardt carefully overlooked. He was making it look good, and was rewarded for this (in his old age) by being honored for it.

His younger years were a different matter, and the only biography that tells of that difficult time Lonesome Dreamer has been ignored. He was a person of the Midwest – the largest part of America – that has also been ignored.


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