Today, there are many people who live wel into there eighties and nineties. Many even live past a hundred years. Two of my grandfather’s siblings did just that. I bet you could ask any one of these people and it would seem to them that their youth was only yesterday. And yet, within the spans of lifetimes come the devastating results of ideas half-baked and ideals lost to the generations.
First case in point: American Expansion and Japan. In 1852, Admiral Mathew Perry (no, not the Friends actor) sailed a warship with 72 big cannons into Edo Bay (Tokyo) in a quest to open “peaceful” trade relations with the Japanese people. The Japanese felt they had no choice but to capitulate to the treaty, given America’s obvious military superiority. In America, this was played as a great humanitarian olive branch to the Japanese rather than as the imperialist attempt to secure lucrative trade routes to the Orient.
In Japan, a proud people were made to feel like slaves to America. the result was a toppling of centuries of culture and the eventual rise of Japanese military and those minded to outdo the Americans at their own game at all costs. Such cultural upheaval depended upon aggressive men who would eventually use their aggression to create their own empire. The final result of Perry’s insult was the Japanese destruction of the American navy at Pearl Harbor. In less than a lifetime, just 89 years, America created the Japanese monster that would decimate the Pacific nations and cost the lives of millions of their own and also the young Americans who would repel them.
In 1776, a brilliant man set to paper the immortal words of the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson was a true dichotomy of a man. On the one hand, he resolutely believed that all men should have self-determination. On the other hand, though he abhorred slavery, he would not free his hundreds of slaves. Though he trumpeted government of the people, by the people and for the people, he despised most people as incapable of governing themselves. Yet, he lead the thoughts and minds of the resolute colonists forward to produce the New Republic, the United States of America.
Although the USA was founded on a Constitution of inalienable rights, and although Jefferson saw to the protection of states’ rights as essential to preventing a tyrannical central government, he also failed to see that the failure to heel Virginia and her sister states to the ideals of the Constitution would eventually threaten to undo the entire confederation of states. Slavery questions, inequities in trade taxes and regulations, and even the differences of climate and resources would eventually put the southern states at great odds with the interest of the northern monied elite until they would find themselves unable to justify remaining in the original confederation.
There was only one problem with the succession of the southern states. Though Jefferson himself expressed that such a move might be inevitable and even beneficial to both sides in the long run, Jefferson did not calculated how strong would be the impetus of the major industrialists in the North to complete the manifest destiny that would plant their imperialist aspirations on the shore of both major oceans. The succession had to be squashed in order to protect these interests. Had the issues been resolved in Jefferson’s time, the great civil war might have been avoided altogether. Instead, in 1865, a mere 89 years after America was born, the South lay in ruins, the entire fabric of the Republic was irreparably changed forever, and the President lay in state.
Yesterday marked the 70 year anniversary of the D-day landings. What made D-Day necessary was the WWI Armistice that decided to prevent the German nation from ever again bringing such tyranny on the earth by, in effect, placing tyranny on Germany. 1944 was a mere 25 years removed from the great treaty that would end any thoughts of another world war. Of course, the great treaty failed to give any credit a small Asian nation that was instrumental in finishing WWI. This small nation, already feeling belittle by one Admiral Perry, decided it no longer wanted to side with the allies. In the next conflict, Japan stood with Germany instead.
In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge had succeeded in turning a huge government deficit into a 25% surplus. Just eight short years later, President FDR created the hugest government deficits then known, and he created the present bureaucracy that has swelled government spending 1000 times the $3 billion dollar budget of 1925. 89 years later, President Obama has nearly completed the destruction of free enterprise in the USA, and has the government running at a 30% deficit.
In 1952, an emerging Iran set up its first Democratically elected government. It then told the British to divest itself of oil production and it nationalized the oil industry. At the behest of British monied interests, the American CIA went into Iran, staged a coup, and installed a puppet regime under the Shah. This eventually led to the rise of a revolutionary Muslim state that deposed the Shah and declared its enmity to America. 27 years later, it erupted with the taking of 52 hostages. Some fifty years later, it is the cause of terrorism around the globe, especially against American interest.
When I was born, a mere fifty some years ago, the Cold War was just heating up, we were in the process of abandoning North Korea tot he communist bloc, and Kennedy was just getting us into the long, rudderless and messy Vietnam conflict. Today, the USSR is gone, China is flirting with free enterprise, and Vietnam once again wants protection, this time of the World Court, from the Chinese. The Cold War ended in the late 80s, even more abruptly than it began. Now Russia has left socialism behind and the USA is fast becoming the new leader of the socialist world. China, once a mystery to the world, is now a major tourist destination, sends many of its brightest students to the best American Schools, teaches English to its children, and derives the majority of its wealth from trade with America.
When I was born, the moon still had not been visited by humans. Stereo records were state of the art, played through tube amplifiers. The first cassette recorders were coming out when I was five. At 25 I bought my first CD player. Then came the DVD, Mpeg compressions, MP3 players, the internet, electronic commerce, digital cameras, HD flat TVs, Super HD TVs, affordable jet service to the world, cell phones and cheap international communications. Next stop is Mars, holographic TVs and the like.
When I was born, America led the world in technology because its people were free to innovate. Now American innovation is quashed by government red tape and costly licensing procedures. Our children are taught to color inside the lines, not to compete, not to stand out, not to dream. They are taught that failure to comply results in being medicated into a zombie. They are taught that questioning the power structure lands you in confinement on spurious charges, or possibly no charges at all to which to can mount a defense. Schools of higher learning have become money making machines to pay the overinflated salaries of the hippies who now run them, the same hippies who once sought to destroy them. Well, destroy them they have. About all you will learn in them now is how to hate and despise your parents, how to tear down anyone who really HAS learned something and is thinking for him or herself, and, of course, how to be a good citizen and fill out your forms.
Assuming that I live another 35 years, what will I recognize of my youth when I get there. I already can hardly recognize my country. However, those who continue to ill-fated imperialist march toward the Brave New World had better pay attention to cause and effect. Sometimes it take 89 years for such intentions to blow up in one’s face. Sometimes, it’s less.
What has happened in your lifetime? Are you ready for what’s next?