Why can't we be more...American?

Hawkeye: Would the Huron make his Algonquin brothers foolish with brandy and steal his lands to sell them for gold to the white man? Would the Huron have greed for more land than a man can use? *

I am bound to get evil eye e-mail for this. We live in a great, productive country. We pride ourselves on our work ethic, our innovation, our genius, our ability to make money in our enterprise.

And I love this country, or I wouldn't choose to be here.

But tonight, as I worked at BigLaw, and attorneys everywhere talked of their $50,000 weekend summer house fees for one summer in the Hamptons, or stressed over the minutiae of the bloody one-sentence fax that had to go out seconds ago to the CEO of the BigFirm which BigLaw represents, or the e-mail that didn't go out fast enough, or did the courier deliver the document to the attorney at his home who was waiting to do more work in the middle of the night, or the Blackberry that doesn't seem to deliver the same message you will get on your computer which is still faster than snail-mail anyway, or you-know-who who just bought a BMW so that SHE CAN DRIVE IN TO WORK ON SUNDAYS to enjoy it but can't afford it UNLESS SHE ACTUALLY WORKS ON SUNDAYS, or the class action lawsuit that demands that the risky mutual fund just should have performed better....I wonder...

HAVE WE ABSOLUTELY GONE BONKERS? LIKE, STARK, RAVING MAD? I also know that this is not isolated to BigLaw - but is a reflection of so much that goes on in our society. On a more extreme level it's Enron. Worldcomm. Halliburton. ImClone.

Or the Long Island Board of Education.

Or the lawsuit against McDonald's for causing obesity. Yeah. Uh-huh.

More. More. More. And I will not be accountable for what happens when I get it.

The western world has been like this for a long time. Howard Zinn, how right you were: "The Indians, Columbus reported, 'are so naive and so free with their possessions, that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. [T]hey offer to share with anyone...' He concluded his report by asking for a little help from their Majesties, and in return he would bring them from his next voyage 'as much gold as they need...and as many slaves as they ask.'" from A People's History of the United States.

Yes, as a society, we are selfish. We want more, now, yesterday, faster, better, costlier, but not actually pay the expense ourselves, better, faster, sweeter, with fewer carbs thank you, send it electronically, you can reach me on my Blackberry, and let me have as little of the work involved to get there.

I wonder. Why can't we be more... American? At least, like in the indigenous sense? Imagine. Taking responsibility for our actions. Being ok with sharing freely. Claiming only the land than we can use at that moment. Not being afraid of aging because becoming an elder is cool and we get more respect when we become elders. And irrespective of rank (because not everyone is equal, right?), everyone still pitches in.

Not to mention I'd get to mount a galloping horse and do wicked archery. But that is beside the point.

Perhaps equal billing enables respect for that standard of living. But I doubt the United States would put up with a Maori Renaissance similarly-styled for Native Americans. Imagine what our society might be like if we did? Yes, I too, was a corporate CEO trained in ways and the work ethics of the Blackfoot.

Sigh. At least, I have homeschooling. It is far from the madding crowd, and when I teach, I give only what I can offer, and no more. No one can embezzle from the Maitresse Board of Education, either. In my view, that is most American.

So take that, Blackberry.**

*Daniel Day-Lewis as Hawkeye to Sachem, in the film "Last of the Mohicans," based on the James Fenimore Cooper novel.
**An American (Canadian) gadget that delivers email to your person. Now taking subways and trains by storm all over New York, and well....America.


Anonymous said...

Yes, we are going insane. Or, to be more precise, *they* are, since I refuse to participate. ;-)


Orion said...

It is craziness, all you can do is realize and not contribute to it. That's all you can do. Keep yourself sane and live within your means.