Fellow Americans, Recently, I came to the realization that this country is something that most of today’s youth refuse to accept: we are a nation of firsts, trailblazers, and original foods and drinks, music, whatever. Let’s begin with … not Columbus because he was, in any form and fashion, an absolute atrocity to the Natives, the Taino people of the West Indies. If I could do anything, I would bring those people back. They were peaceful, but I’m not so sure. They had to have defended themselves. The big thing about Post-Columbian society before the Modern Era is this: we had problems with smallpox and other illnesses now being vaccinated against. We are a nation of trailblazers. And so it begins in 1607, when the 48 Contiguous states began settling in Virginia’s Algonquin nations. We all knew the story of Pocahontas, and believe it or not, she and others were trailblazers by encountering each other. One fascinating fact: John Smith’s original book about the powhatan clans and tribes won my heart when I read it, and it contained many interesting cultural aspects of the Natives in ancient Virginia. We have at some point all heard the song titled Shenandoah, and the tragic love story behind Arlo Guthrie’s ballad speaks volumes about his abilities to craft in song the telltale American style of country music, and the valley of Shenandoah has become a favorite spot for a friend of mine’s family. We jump ahead to the 1620s, when the new England colonies were settled by pilgrims. But yet these weren’t just ordinary people. They were the first big wave of settlers to go to great lengths to protect the families they loved. The men and women sailed here on an ocean liner called, we all know this one, the mayflower. Funny how these folks gave us Thanksgiving, and that was a real trailblazer. No matter how one feels about this day whether turkey or no turkey, it was originally a way to thank the residents of what is now massachusetts and other New England states from all over for helping the settlers learn and grow. There were many women who pioneered the way for us: we begin with Mary Musgrove, then fast forward to Sacajawea, who interpreted for the Western explorers. Yes, not all the native land dwellers were martial enough to throw us out. We are the nation of jumbalayas and coconut shrimp cocktail, like Louisiana has. We are like a blend of melting Cajun soup. Each of us melt in to the soup, worship whatever God we want, and constantly pioneer new technology. For example, Microhell. Okay, Microsoft’s former CEO Bill Gates was a real nerd. He keeps making richest man in the world, of course.
I could say all that and more. and too much other stuff.
We have recently seen a lot more trailblazers in America. But let’s remember our history and heritage. We had a Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and yes, we had the NFB and other disability groups. Disabled people are now making headway to total freedom and equality. The first disabled person to overturn a guardianship and get all the media outlets involved for me was Jenny (Margaret Jeanne) Hatch. I recently found out about it possibly two years ago. Hatch is now blazing a huge trail for many young and disabled folks. She has spelled out what being first class means. We must end all forms of Custodialism.
Americans are a nation of trailblazers. But we are also like all other nations. We have feared many things, but unlike other nations, we resolved all our fears, and up to this point, there are people hanging stupid signs in their offices reading NO GAYS ALLOWED. There was a time before when the same state that has that sign would hang a sign up that read “whites only.” Before then, when Morris Frank brought Buddy in to the stores, people would hang up signs, written and unwritten, saying “No dogs allowed.” What about the guide and service animals? Those are the best!
The fears we have faced as a country were all too familiar: differences. Jamestown’s biggest fear was the “Indians” (notice that word in quotes because of historical significance of the people’s use of said word). The First Nations in Jamestown and other places were the biggest enemy of the Colonies. Sometimes, however, the british during the Revolution stirred them up to cause trouble. However, the first Settlers would have to deal with warlike tribes, peaceable ones, etc. Some tribes hated each other, others didn’t. You never know when you see a new place.
The fears of the tribesmen and women however was a tiny microbe we all knew as smallpox. That wiped out more than half the population of that whole continent. European explorers and settlers and rich people did not help the situation because they, I kid you guys not, did not bathe, did not eat properly with forks and knives, etc. That was a regular occurrence in society back then. People back then blamed silverware for all the world’s troubles. That was a European old style fear.
When Louis Braille invented the dot code I use to scare everybody with my … totally awesome reading skills, I know this for sure, but people were too afraid that the world for the sighted would end. Well, it kind of has, if you know what I mean. Braille has allowed the blind, with and without tiny bits of vision, to eventually function on their own. What was all that about!
Another fear we had was the fear of emancipating slaves. We got over that pretty quick, but then Reconstruction came into play. Took us years to tell the Feds and others that Blacks are people, period. Then what?
Vietnam and Russian Bloc (formerly known as the U.S.S.R.) countries brought the fear of Communism. WE made a deal with the then Soviet Republics, and guess what? “Mr. Gorbachev, take down this wall!”
The Iron Curtain is gone, but we still have new fears to conquer. Fear of either of two things: disability and the end of Custodial antiquities with them and the fear of religious differences. We have on one side the Christian camp, currently fighting to defund Planned Parenthood. I agree with their zealous weird approach because, and this is the one and only reason, they have a right to. However, how can anyone do research without the right materials? Fetal tissue? Come on! Planned Parenthood may be the only place where I could possibly get a proper OB exam or Gynecological exam if I wanted to due to the fact that yes, I’m on CO Medicaid, or rather Denver’s little Medicaid thingy. It’s sponsored by Denver Health places, including the Hospital campuses and stuff.
We have a lot of fears, and we fear the End Days. We’ve always done this. But one unique thing about our country is this: we fear the persecution of our unique and wonderful mixing bowl by such groups as the self-styled Isil or Islamic State or Isis or whatever you call it. There is no negotiating with Terrorists, we say. Well, here’s Afghans negotiating with those Taliban, the same people who shot my dear heroine, Malala.
One notable quote I will leave with here is this: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself. That’s a famous quote from FDR, who by the way, blazed the biggest trail for me even before I realized it. He ran for President, even as a disabled man. He led the country from his wheelchair. With the barrier free housing being expensive, what would FDR say of those people? FDR was the man who set the foundations for SSI up. LBJ, depicted in the movie Selma, signed the Voting Rights Act. Today, people are trying to roll back that law, and there still needs to be the law in place.
Where can this nation improve? I’ll cover that in a second, but did you know that we are also the home of jazz, spirituals, all that? All that jazz started with a few different things: the field holler, ragtime, and stride. All three of those come together, and then you get American Gospel.
Country music is downright awesome. We’ve inspired artists around the world but country is a uniquely American genre made up of everything from Irish roots to some Norwegian and other types of music. Before there was Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, and way before Hank Williams Sr., we had fiddlers playing at parties and Solomon North, whose book Twelve Years a Slave inspired a recent film. The Antebellum South was full of that sort of thing, but again, the Blacks and Whites trailblazed a lot. Blacks developed a uniquely beautiful spiritual sound. They used the “we shall overcome” attitude in their protests against the infamous “Jim Crow” laws. This became a serious thing for them, and you can hear some of that in the Selma film.
The people who love country music are all walks of life. The thing I loved about country from the start was the Irish telltale ballad sounds it brings. One notable song, the Chain of Love, is akin to the way some Irish songs tell stories. The storytelling artist who writes and sings of love, unrequited love, etc. is still akin to Irish folktales. I have learned the roots of country music, and most instrumentation of such music is derived from the same stuff you get stories from. Take a comparison of Allison Kraus for instance. She can easily sing a Celtic song with a band, then flip right over the edge to country, and it makes almost no difference!
The differences though with country is there’s no pattern. You can do more with it than you could with Celtic music. Such artists like Jimmy Buffett come to mind. HE uses his uniquely Island sound and puts it against another artist who sings uniquely country music. Put that together, and you get something else altogether.
We have so much food to remember. Try my old state of Florida for instance. They’ve got way too many oranges, but the mainstay for me there is key lime pie. Skip up to Georgia, and the South has such good fried chicken and, in some parts of Georgia, the Fried Green Tomatoes. Mind the movie.
Go up to places like Virginia, Tennessee and the Carolinas, Texas and parts of the Midwest, and the food gets more diverse. Chicago is famous for deep dish pizza. Oh lord, those Chicago people reading this will perk up right when I say, “Sicilian deep dish pizza.” Go straight up the midwest to Washington State and the Pacific Northwest, and it gets better.
The Southwest, for another thing, includes but is not necessarily these states: Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico. Bowling for Soup would jokingly sing, “Besides, the Mexican food sucks north of here anyway.” I admit, the best Mexican cuisine can be found in Colorado as well. I would love to try real Mexican food though. The best food, however, is from the best cooks, which today are hard to find.
Food is so wonderful here, but if you went to another country, you could see some modified McDonaldized places, some Burger Kings, etc. However, in Muslim countries, it’s not the same. We are loved, hated, feared, worshiped, reviled. It’s hard being here in America, but it is hard for us in the world.
We are continuously improving the state of our nation. IF I could speak with the President or give a State of the Union address, I could say this statement: over 90% of blind children are illiterate. I wish it was 9%. We need to really improve the way we educate blind children in the Information age. We desperately need a better way to show our blind children a way to read Braille, and we need to do this, and then we’d do Louis Braille proud. He invented that system, even though in France, he still made it.
We also need to improve our tolerance of the religions that promote peace. For instance, a child in Louisiana was bullied by teachers and discriminated against in a school for being Buddhist. Buddhism for a lot of people is a good thing. I see Buddhists as a gateway for peace. Now, I would not discriminate against Muslim students, either.
The biggest thing we must do is what FDR told us to do so many years ago. We must fear fear itself, and that’s all we have.
What’s there to be afraid of in passing a law to help Muslim girls in crisis? Or any girl in crisis and forced to undergo harmful cultural practices? I’m sorry, but the Republicans must stop putting conditions like, “Don’t pay for abortions.” There is no right or wrong answer, but if the person chooses, we must go along with it. I would never abort any child, but if God forbid I was trafficked as a woman, I would probably be hard pressed to decide what to do if my child was the product of daily rapes by some guy I was not allowed to know but had to service.
I would keep the child in the end, and I would hopefully screen the child for further mental problems because some of those fathers or people the trafficked humans are forced to service are probably different kinds of disenfranchised peoples. But whatever that case may be, it’s not the same.
What we also need to do is stop the nation’s largest Kindergarten class, also known as Congress, from honing in on stuff they don’t like and threatening government shutdowns. Tea Party people I admit have our best interests at heart, but they are literally dumping the most toxic tea into our media outlet, our sea of newspapers and news television stuff.
That my friends is a critique of our nation.
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