Asked why the Civil War occurred Abraham Lincoln replied with droll wit it was impossible for a foreign power to drink from the Ohio or lay a track in the Blue Ridge and so if the free American Republic was ever to be destroyed, the American people had to do it themselves.
But during those years of fire and thunder rolling across the countryside it would have been difficult to imagine that a hundred and fifty years in the future we would come much closer to destroying its most cherished ideas, simply by listening to fairy-tales. Childish, clever and very phony short stories intended to popularize, of all things, the economic and social theories of nineteenth and early twentieth century Left-Wing European intellectuals who reviled us. Indeed hated everything about America.
Although the fact that their fairy-tales have prevailed to the extent they have doesn’t mean that Americans are particularly naïve or easily hoodwinked. It only means that the Left is very good at making up stories. Not conquering a continent, inventing modern appliances, building bridges, starting productive businesses and creating wealth, teaching children to read, farming, freeing slaves, inventing the light bulb, just making up stories. And stories, even made-up stories, are not one way in which a people learns what to believe or how to act, by and large they’re the only way. It is, for good or ill, the way the human mind works. Indeed will always work because only stories offer morals and what we invariably see as common sense or common knowledge is the sum of the morals we have absorbed.
It’s why the Bible has only less rules than parables. It’s why when you try to teach something to somebody with a mound of books and charts they’ll n raise their hands in surrender and ask “why don’t you just tell me about it” meaning of course, “why don’t you just tell me a story which explains it” and it’s why millions of us can remember scores of movie plots but not the name of one Vice President.
Stories explain why cultures differ. In a very well understand process a real life event sometime becomes a story which becomes a parable which becomes a metaphor which in becoming a word in someone’s language representing a lesson or a moral perhaps unique to that culture alone.
Stories also explain why cultures sometimes charge in a new direction because the process can be short-circuited when they get made up. One of the best examples from history are those stories told by the greatest of all storytellers, William Shakespeare. John Gillingham in his wonderfully readable book The Wars Of The Roses points out that for some prominent Englishmen all they knew about their country’s history, indeed all they wanted to know, is what William Shakespeare told them in his plays. Yet Shakespeare is terrible history. Many scenes such as Tudor and Lancaster lords dividing by the choice of either a white or red rose in a palace garden are wholly made up. Shakespeare also has characters contemporaneous one of whom died before the other was born and of course he puts words in everybody’s mouth they never said while inventing any number of words to begin with (or was the first to ever write them down.) But to this day all of us English-speakers are profoundly influenced in our view of who we are and how we should act by his fanciful accounts. Indeed Shakespeare is pivotal in the emergence of the Anglo-Sphere, the fact that English is the most commonly understood language on earth and that England’s Elizabethan culture focused through the object lens of four hundred years of the American experience, is the most imitated on earth.
Which in a backwards looking, sordid and much less talented way is exactly the task the Left-Wing Liberal has been about in America, short-circuiting our culture in order to change us into something else. Not larger than life, full of a life Elizabethans this time around, but a tamer, cowed and so, much more manageable flock.
A race which will feel very guilty about any sort of personal success, is afraid to trumpet their belief in a loving God, respectfully nods their head when the building inspector says they can do this and not that, is fearful of disciplining their children, worries about the environment toppling into a black hole because of something they might do, even more endlessly about obtaining credentials from government agencies or academic institutions in order to validate their own life, doesn’t speak out because they’re risk adverse and forever struggles to appear caring, compassionate and concerned about everything except their own spinelessness. A group so unhooked from its own history and self-respect that they’re willing to dance to almost any tune.
Luckily the Left-Wing Liberal’s job isn’t done and Americans aren’t all like that, not yet and not by a long shot. Which means that we see our way back to that golden road into America’s future by returning to those American stories Left-Wing fairy-tales were designed to replace. Absorbing or rather re-absorbing those morals instead. See something quite different as common sense. And we can do this wherever we find ourselves, at the kitchen table, at work and play, around a campfire. By you, not somebody else, reading them in books, accurately portraying them in the news, in a movie or by hanging them on a poster in your third grader’s classroom.
Because there they are lying motionless in your backyard’s shade. For all the world like any number of dozing American Grizzly bears. The true, fierce, inspiring and ever so much more interesting tales of these four hundred odd years gone by in this country. Just waiting to be woken up.
Although Grizzly Bears can be scary. All the scarier because we’re not used to seeing them tramp across the landscape any longer. Doubly scary because unlike left-wing fairy-tales, they compel us to take our own measure and we’re not certain we’re all that brave.
But we are.