Saturday, March 3, 2007

It was true then and its true now...

"America was drunk on physical comeliness. America was on a diet. America did its exercises. America, indeed, brought spirituality to its dedication to pink-cheeked, straight-legged, clear-eyed, health-exuding, attractiveness-- a fierce, strident dedication. It was the dedicated spirituality that the dancer might come to experience what we call Art. To what I asked myself, was America coming?"

-- Fred Exeley, A Fan's Note

I first read this book in Elliott Gorn's American Studies 201 survey course at Miami University in 1992/1993. I was very full of angst back then. I was frankly pissed off at much of the world, my parents and well life in general. Looking back I was an emotional stew, but this quote hit me again the other day.

What are we as America coming to? I think our popular culture and frankly our political landscape are looking pretty scary of late. I mean do your own little survey. For example, check out the magazines on display in the grocery. We as a society are more interested in Brittany and Kevin's marriage or lack thereof - than with what is happening in Washington, DC, Iraq, Dafur, & our own communities.

Frankly I really don't care if Paris ever has sex again, but if we have to hear about it, I wish she would talk about the importance of using birth control (especially condoms.)

I also could care less about what diet, so and so is on, but I would love for more celebrities to talk about the need for a well balanced diet, exercise and the merits of being well balanced in your lives. How about focusing on the scary rise of diabities in this country or making sure the school lunch programs actually include fresh fruits and veggies.

I would like for our politicians (let's be frank, our employees - we pay the taxes that pay their salaries) to get their collective heads out of their asses and actually work on the big issue. Like why do so many children in the country not have medical and dental care. Why are families struggling with the American dream, when we are the richest country in the world. Furthermore, they could sit down and shut up and figure out how the hell are we getting out of Iraq and when - before more young American die for a war I just don't get. They could figure out how we, bought such a load of crap from the Bush regime hook, line and sinker. How about they figure out to really strength our borders - effectively. How about looking at why in the last year our food supply has been tainted with e coli.

We are so dedicated to being casual that we have forgotten that to be truly great, truly successful and truly admirable, we must tackle the the real issue, we must be real and we have to be willing to really put in the time. Hard work is messy, it is not neat, it requires you to roll up your sleeves and it requires a huge amount of mental outlay. I am seeing less and less greatness.

So the question is do we, in 200 years, want to be remembered as a nation of beautiful people - empty on the inside or do we want to be remembered as a nation of dedicated people, willing to put forth some serious effort to achieve greatness?

Only we can answer that - one day at a time. (and one vote at a time when the time comes.)


Maria, Lover of All Things Romance said...

Great post Susan. I don't think it's just America. England is just as bad, and we Irish are getting there too. It's really really sad to see what we as a world are coming to. We are obsessed with celebrity gossip and money while there are children in Africa dying in their thousands every day.

Susan said...

I could not agree more. I feel abit overwhelmed by what I can & can't do, but I know something has to happen. Our society is becoming a bit like cotton-candy and that is troubling.
Thanks for your world perspective, from across the pond.

Jillian said...

I can run, but I can't hide. I am picturing his crazy hair and hearing his (or our American Studies major)catch phrase, "We got nothin'". I mean Gorn, not Exelely.

Exeley's words did/do not move me as much as they move you, but Atwood's sure do. Have you picked up Handmaid's Tale recently? Read it again, with the Patriot Act in mind. (shudders)

Susan said...

Jillian -

I will so have to do that. I still have my AMS t-shirt! Ha!