Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Is It All A Mirage?

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Way back in back in Grade 5 (1954-55), I caught a glimpse of a vision of the new century that had dawned in 1900. History is so tidy; it has round numbers and everything. Or had things actually started in 1901?

Injustices of past Ages would be left behind. There would be "a chicken in every pot" (who said that?). Peace and Happiness would Reign. This would be The American Century, but I didn't know what it was called then, I was only seven. We were British. We were Canadians. The Nazis and the Japs had wanted to derail the train to paradise that humanity was riding on. But they had been defeated in World War One and World War Two. Here at home, I could see that things British quickly were becoming things American: Fresh and new, bright and confident was this New Age. We learned about the United Nations in school; it was in New York City, the most important city in the world. People would settle their differences amicably from now on. Of course WW I & II, The Great Depression, World Communism, Indian Independence, the creation of The State of Israel, and the Korean War had already happened. There were some blemishes and some good things. This was before the Hungarian Revolution, Patrice Lumumba, Castro, the JFK assassination, Civil Rights and Vietnam. More blemishes. No one would dream of Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan for decades. But the British had already been there, years before, pumping oil. Theodore Roosevelt (as portrayed by Brian Keith in The Wind and The Lion) is an appropriate symbol for the New Age. McKinley is even better (yet, TR was certainly a worthy successor).

Looking back, though, I conclude that humanity was not riding on an American train (that had been built by expatriate British engineers) heading to paradise. Humanity was on a train all right, but it was going somewhere else. Can we get off, now? Yes we can. The process is already underway. That also started in 1900, with McKinley.

After the train dissolves and we find ourselves sitting in the sand, we can dust ourselves off and walk somewhere else.

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