And this self-knowledge is bred into their bones. They can get away with anything, because they know they are right – no matter what they do – no matter how crazy they are.
And this is why they have failed so disastrously – without knowing it in the least. They are not allowed to know what they really are. They are nice, and that is all they need to know.
There was another adjective that my parents liked to use – they were respectable.
Why they had to be respectable was clear enough – underneath their clever facade, they were not respectable at all – but were quite the opposite. This is why they were so religious – and their church affiliation made them even more respectable.
This worked in the boom economy right after WWII – they could proudly show off their possessions – their new houses and new cars. These proved they were good people.
When the economy faded, in the Sixties – they shifted their attention elsewhere. They went from the Great Society to Vietnam.
And gradually they went from being respectable to being nice – a state harder to define. But one they could observe easily on their Televisions.
The second half of the last Century was influenced by TV, and then the Computer. These produced some very complicated changes, that are still going on. But one overall effect was clear – Americans (and Europeans, and nearly everyone else) became self-destructive.
They were living in another reality – much better than the real one! Nero fiddled while Rome burned – and we are obsessed by our Phones, while our world burns.
Perhaps some day historians will describe the complicated transitions in the 17th through 21st Centuries. A huge undertaking that we cannot begin now.