With the most abject apologies to the great Victorian novelist, Charles Dickens, we cannot conjure up a more apt, or cogent, simile for our American Nation, past and present, than by the present use, of this title of one of his great novels.
As known, a curiosity shop, or antique mart, is a business establishment, in which a wide variety of commodities, antique and contemporary, valuable, as well as those whose desirability resides solely in nuanced sentimentality, are offered for sale. The predictably salient feature of such shops is the unpredictable, mixed, variety of sale merchandise, commonly unsorted, occasionally, chaotic, among which some cunningly, optimistic patron, may keenly, and covertly, search for a previously, undiscovered, “find.’
The establishment of our Country, the end product of the founders’ creative idea of a radically new, Nation, free of the European style, class system, and populated by responsible citizens of equal status and entitlement, was certainly an admirable undertaking, even, if a bit optimistic. History seems to show that, the evil despot with whom those idealistic prophets, in reality, needed to contend, was not, at all, the evil presumption of a King, but, rather, the perverse nature of man, himself. Stated otherwise, as we see it, the optimistic, Founders of our Democratic Republic, were, commendably, on the right track, insofar as their zealous elimination of royalty and privilege, but were completely incognizant as to the varied persona of man, by virtue of their own, self-projected merit.
The ultimate result was a potpourri of mixed, and unpredictable, “curiosity shop,” performance, by the newly created Nation, which, at various times, evinced either a good, bad, admirable or inconsistent, history. Had the new Nation been composed of a well-educated, informed (Jeffersonian) right-thinking citizenry, the mélange of reprehensible events, which punctuate our brief history of approximately 300 years, conceivably, would have been mitigated; in favor of a consistent record of rectitude and equality, as originally prophesized, and as enshrined in our foundational Constitution.
Despite our Nation’s historically, and proudly, professed identification, with the admirable mantras of equality for all, justice, freedom of speech and thought, we have, in sad reality, incurred a mixed history, inclusive of slavery, perennial race, as well as religious, ethnic and sexual prejudice, vast economic disparities (akin, by analogy to historic “privilege”) and a governmental infrastructure, at various times, consisting of ignorant and corrupt officials, perpetuating such despicable features. Since our Constitution and the original intent was otherwise, how could this be, except for the innate nature of man (our citizenry).
Every man, presumably, is born, with similar needs for continued life, security, love, respect, and acceptance from his society. Essentially, it is the empirical means chosen by him, in pursuit of the acquisition of such ends, that calibrates the morality of the citizen.
While parents admittedly differ, they all appear to teach their young offspring, well-intentioned lessons in personal identification with their born ethnos and religion, employing the words, “we” and “they,” for the positive purposes of the child’s self- identification and his secure feeling of belonging. We have remonstrated, in a number of past essays, on how that very, “we” and “they” teaching, all too often eventuates to a fantasized demonization of the “they,” and subsequent conflict; that it is far better to, simultaneously, teach parallel respect for divergent beliefs and variant physical characteristics. The traditional, biblically confirmed, teachings of parents, of value and worth as relevant to divergent racial and religious differences, are responsible for a long American, institutional history of despicable racial prejudice, from the period of American colonial slavery, to the present, continuing devaluation of black personhood, leading up to today’s appropriate demonstrations for justice and equity.
The identical, sad and eventually, dangerous agenda, applies to the etiology of religious, gender and ethnic bigotry. It is not a stretch to universally declare, that the concept of prejudice (like everything else) is taught and instilled (like a pathogen) and then, fatally, metastasizes. So many of the German population, in the 1930’s, enthusiastically, signed on to Hitler’s program to exterminate the Jewish population from the face of the earth. It is also, a part of our curiosity shop history, that Franklin D. Roosevelt, revered, among America’s greatest Presidents, responsive, to the perceived, anti-Semitic sentiment of the time, rejected a ship, loaded with European Jews, desperately, escaping Hitler’s gas chambers, and sent them back to their fate.
America, generally, touted as the “land of the free,” can, in comparison to most other nations, boast a progressive record (albeit inconsistent) of recognized and protected, democratic ideals. In its favor, it has properly, and as necessary, promulgated statutes of every kind, providing for equal opportunity and universally applicable, civil rights. Its known constitutional mandate, without question, is freedom and universal equality.
The Founding Fathers of our Democratic Republic, it seems, did not construe a facility for the elimination of ignorance and bias, the omitted impediment to the intended and foreseen, avatar of citizen, of the new Republic. Their antidote to tyranny, prejudice, and threat of inappropriate sovereign action, appears to be the theory, that if the citizen were free from control by the government, he would thereby, be enabled to strive toward his goals; such freedom of opportunity, together with his other assured freedoms, would result in a successful and fulfilled, citizen and, ultimately, by extension, a successful Nation.
We, at plinyblog, have exclusively, dedicated ourselves, to the promotion of human advancement and learning, through life-affirming activities, such as, reading good literature, engagement in elective subjects of personal interest, music, art, theater, and other self-enriching activities. These ineluctably, lead to the advancement and growth of understanding of oneself and his environment, and the development of a mature perspective. The latter comprehends an awareness of the existence of other people of diverse culture, beliefs, and physical appearance, and an appreciation that all of whom, constitute equal members, of the family of man. Respect, empathy, and the potential for friendship would seem to be predictable outcomes of such acquired awareness.
Our Nation’s population, at present, however, resembles, in many respects, the miscellany of merchandise of a curiosity shop. In addition to a mainstream of literate, reasonably (and well) educated, reliably informed, people of goodwill, there are others, possibly not sufficiently contemplated, by the saintly, Founding Fathers, who are otherwise. Right thinking American citizens are frustrated by a large, ignorant, unschooled, flat earth portion of the population, which denigrates learning and education, scientific research (regarding climate change, vaccines, genetics, etc.) governmental social responsibility, and the existential importance of continued human advancement.
The latter are a corrosive blight on liberal democracy, and a veritable roadblock to the realization of the Nation, envisioned by its founders. It was, in fact, a coalition of such people, with the financial assistance of many sociopathic, industrial polluters, valuing profits over regulations which protect mankind’s health, that put in office, our current, inept, disgraceful and impeached, but unfortunately, not removed, Chief of State.
Certainly, the most equitable and foresighted legislation is, as a practical matter, inadequate, without a morally, and willingly compliant, citizenry.