Anyone, anywhere, who hears the name “America” already has a first impression about America; either positive or negative. It doesn’t matter if he/she is 18 or 80, and located anywhere in the world.
If abroad those impressions are a mixture of street talk, music, films, and of course, relatives who may have traveled there or live. One man from one village can go to America, and everyone in that valley has a impression of America that no government can conceal.
I knew such a family from Dayton whose father had come to America from a village in Slovakia before WWII, taking work in a steel mill. He left a wife and son back home. Just before the war he went back to bring his wife to America. But he had to leave his 6-year old behind with relatives to secure the family lands. Once in America, Papa and Mama Miluks started a new family, his youngest son my best friend for many years from the Army. In the late 1970s, while on duty in Germany, he was allowed to travel to Slovakia and meet his eldest brother and see the village and old home place, and of course, take gifts. When I visited his family in Dayton Mama Miluks showed me the special place she kept all her letters from her son, who she had not seen since 1940. But those letters! She wrote many-paged reports every week for over 40 years, giving a weekly account of things going on with his papa and brothers and sister, learning quickly to never speak of certain things, for by ’46 the Communists had moved in and her letters were first read and redacted by postal censors, cutting all references to the availability of consumer goods commonly available in America, especially food. Her son, in turn, would reply with heavily redacted letters. He would die in the early 1990’s of the general poor heath common to socialist countries so was never able to join his family. He never met his other two younger brothers or sister. And of course his last personal memory of his parents was when he was 6.
But I am quite sure every adult in that village had clear impressions of America because of Mr Miluks, who went to America.
I tell this story because one, it’s true, and two, it is, next to the Christian’s ideal of Heaven, an impression of America as a place that one has never been and most wants to go, which cannot be duplicated anywhere else. I have met people in several countries and four continents, including Palestinian Arabs (on an overnight sleeper in Russia) and from all I hear basically the same thing, “If only I could go to America.”
(This is not what we are seeing today on our southern border, by the way, so I won’t take this discussion in that direction, although just 30-40 years ago, down there, where I also lived, this was a common refrain, “If I can only get to America.” I deal with this subject in an upcoming conversation about Assimilation, which should be a topic of policy discussion if we can ever get fully in charge or our government again.)
So, abroad, America is viewed through two entirely different prisms, divided by two classes: 1) the political class and 2) all the rest.
The government class worldwide generally has a low impression of America, apparently including much of our own. In all cases this is because we offer a glimpse of things their people desire, only it would require those governments to put a knife to their throats in order to allow their people to pursue this desire as an attainable reality instead of “just a dream”.
Bottom line, the people class would be for America 80-20, while inside the state class it would be more like 80-20 against, all depending on who is in charge of the rice bowls.
By contrast, native-born Americans, especially after a few generations. quickly accept as common and ordinary what people abroad hold out as the rarest of treasures, from “being able to pursue life, liberty and happiness, without permission of state” (as described to me by some Soviet law professors in 1991) to being to buy a pound of bologna at a nearby store.
This is the result of many things, highest among them, ingratitude, and our general failure to pass on the first principles of our how unique America is, and just how lucky they are, to our children.
Americans get their opinions of America from a mix of teaching, both formal (school) and informal (at home and in the street), but rarely by direct observation anymore, except when seeing an event such as the moon landing in 1969. Rarely do we see things in the media that makes us cheer.
At least until Donald Trump brought his traveling revival show to town.
How this will turn out over the next 30 years will depend on the path my (and Donald Trump’s) generation lays it out. Only we won’t be there. This series of First Principles will be a map with much of the trail unblazed, left for the next two generations to fill in.
Oh, our 70 years on this earth matter, simply because, the older we get, the more events in America we got to see first hand. We’ve grabbed far more bulls by the horns than any of you, though far less than our fathers. (See how that works?)
From experience alone it would make sense that Baby Boomers are the wisest of the living generations. But it is also clear that we did not take to heart many of the lessons of life and America that were passed onto us. We dropped a lot of balls, and therein lies a lesson unto itself.
Since events now seem to be moving faster (a kind of quickening) it’s growing more and more obvious that My Generation, and I’m speaking of the genuine “love-America-first” crowd here…will not be alive to see most of these events play out to the point that future Americans can go to sleep at night secure in the notion that the America they love, the America-as-founded, is still on its original rails, as designed.
I’m more confident now, but we have enemies who no longer feel they have to hide in the dark, so I am not assured. As we will discuss, it should be clear that America is not a freak of nature, and that it was not designed just so, after 400 years, it would simply crash and burn.
Unlike the rest of the world’s civilizations, ours was not built by mortal kings.
My current fear is that it will become “America the Brand”, a shell of what it once was, like Disney or Nike, cartels’ dreams come true, a substance-less product that rakes in trillions for corporatists (do not confuse these with capitalists, who do not cut special deals with the state) and keeps on giving because of the label alone.
Dissecting Boomers, I am a “first-month” Baby Boomer, and should be among the first to pass away. 10 years maybe, less unless I learn how to stop cussing. The first five years after the war birthed well over half of the Baby Boomers, the urge to have more kids just sort of petering out after that third kid, in part because life, and housing got, so much better, faster.
By comparison, “late-month” Baby Boomers, 1950-1964 are now only 55-65, and may have as many as 20-30 years left, although it has been my experience, even though we largely had the same parents, life around the dinner table, public schooling and church-life were not the same, from music, to Little League to school plays. I have two younger brothers, by 4 and 8 years, also Boomers. In many ways I failed as a guiding big brother, but I did get to see the difference in the way they related to our dad over those years, as he rose from an engineer’s assistant when I was a kid to General Superintendent while they still lived at home and I was long gone. He actually saw me play baseball.
So, most of what ammunition we can acquire to defeat the modern enemies of America will have to come from their arsenal, not mine. And many of them don’t even recognize our enemies as “enemies”.
Much like Moses on Mount Nebo, we may think we have the best solutions but we will not be crossing over into the Promised Land to see America’s enemies totally defeated.