What does it mean to be an American? I ran across a couple of articles this week( that got me thinking. Not what does it mean to become an American or to be born one but what does it mean to BE an American. What are the common, core values that make up an American. Once upon a time, whether you were a woodsman in Maine or a cowboy on the plains, a businessman in Chicago or a trader in San Francisco you shared a similar outlook with regard to your mores, character, and your expectations of polite society.

Sure, we have always been a divided society. I grew up an Alabamian first and American second. But regardless of where I have lived around this nation and around the world whenever I have encountered other Americans there was always a shared bond of experiences and expectations. It troubles me greatly that this is becoming largely no longer true. We have become a postmodern nation of subcultures most of which are antithetical to what it used to mean to be an American.

I myself find I now have divided loyalties. After 20 years serving in America’s Army I don’t like to think of myself as an American anymore. There are other titles that are dear to my heart. I’m a Christian, I’m a libertarian, I am a Permiculturist, I’m a Hoodlum, and a Barfly. These things define my tribe. It’s clear looking at American culture in the 21st century that we are Balkanized. No longer is their trust in American institutions that we once established among ourselves preserve our life, our liberty, and our property. Once upon a time we trusted the police, the courts, and the jury of our peers to protect us from injustice. Once upon a time we entrusted our children to educational experts. Once upon a time we trusted our fellow citizens. No longer.

Now, we isolate ourselves, we categorize ourselves, not on our Americanness but on our otherness. We self select based on our economic-social strata, ethnicity or our religion or sexual persuasion. We no longer have common heroes or a common culture base. Very quickly we are going to find we are no longer Americans.

And here I find myself challenged. Will I continue to fight for an idealized America that only really existed in our ideals? Or will I Balkanized myself, surround myself with those I consider to be of my tribe, leaving all the rest fend for themselves as best they can? I don’t know the answer to these questions. I’m not naïve enough to believe that America ever has lived up to her ideals. But if we abandon those ideals to something smaller, something more comfortable for us, something more Balkanized, we may find it a very bloody business.


About cptcaveman

An Army Major, my family and I are in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. We enjoy photography, cooking, reading and outdoor sports like hunting, fishing and trapping.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Americanness

  1. Yep. Same questions, same absence of answers. Struggling with you, bro.

  2. Joe Katzman says:

    Struggling with the same questions.

    I’m leaning toward the take that the bloody business is coming anyway. Once your opponents show no respect for law and prepare for war, while promoting justifications for looting you, killing you usually isn’t all that far behind. Especially from an ideology with a long history of mass murder. Sadly, there have been enough small-scale test runs of targeting, thuggery, and outright murders (IRS, John Doe WI, Obamacare killing patients, Fast & Furious) to test whether you can target and kill people as a matter of policy and (a) get away with it in the media (b) have “your side” defend all of it. Answer: yes.

    Our saving grace may be the Imperial center’s medium-term financial weakness, and enough non-compliance if we can get it. But surviving in that scenario means building strong communities at a local level that are reflexively hostile to the Empire. Hard targets will be generally left alone by bureaucrats in favor of easier ones. Fortunately, building that up is mostly a process of very positive things. So if the worst doesn’t happen, you have a nicer, tighter, and more self-aware community. You’re already into permaculture, so that has to be an important value for you now anyway.

    So, In sum, I’m leaning toward: if you can, integrate into a community and help build strongpoints that keep the flame of America’s idea alive.

    Meanwhile, your thesis sounds way interesting (per the space princess). Based on my research, the financial link cannot be over-estimated – those who found their own source of financing survive, those who don’t fail. Pay especial attention to the example of SAMED in Lebanon, as an organization that bridges this imperative with the slightly different angle you’re studying.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s