Love America, Hate Americans – October 2009

Love America, Hate Americans

By William Franklin


gringos09I know we all love America.  Even I love America. It is Americans we don’t like. That is to say, I don’t think we like each other very much. Whereas our geography and its flag are way up there in my estimation, what resides between the borders comes up short and disappointing.

Of course I don’t like thinking this and so I thought I’d put myself to the “Do I Like Americans Test?” and so here it is.  One of my favorite Americans is my daughter.  She’s a first rate American. She’s 27 which is an excellent age for anyone, not just our citizens. Her cultural heroes are comedians. She likes Jon Stewart and Bill Maher.

But more than anything, she seems to like Facebook. She’s always looking thru it with a kind of zeal that frightens me. That’s  because I think of Facebook as one big collection of illustrated  biographies  which aren’t about anyone famous.  They’re about just anyone and I don’t know why that’s interesting.

When I was young I read about Genghis Khan and Robert E. Lee.  Those guys were worth a biography. Or I’d read the Christmas letter if I wanted to know about family members. We had a circular letter that made it to California from time to time and every few years it was our turn to keep it going. We’d try to include a few rites of passage (to make it look like Californians were as serious and capable as anyone else) and lists of the mundane things you try never to put in an obituary, and we’d send it along, hoping we’d avoid criticism while subtly apologizing for being city people and not working 20 hours a day  on a farm anymore.

But while I don’t trust Facebook (somehow I think it’s taking pictures of me when I go to the store), I don’t think I should include it as the cause of why Americans are upset  with each other. So if I had to hazard a why-we’re-pissed guess, I’d say it’s because we’ve become a nation of have-nots. And what I don’t think we have is religion. I know we’ve got bunches of buildings with crosses and things but I think we’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’ and it’s gone, gone, gone.

Now I don’t happen to have good religious credentials.  For tons of reasons I haven’t liked anything supernatural (though I do love 3D movies), still, I’ve always been a sucker for great religious stories. Although I didn’t want him to, I was always secretly glad that Jesus died for my sins.  I like that he died for everyone’s sins.

If I had been there, good sportsmanship would have required me to say, hey Good Bro, don’t go up there for me. Let’s find a lamb or something as this is way over the top, but (thank God), I wasn’t there. But if I had been there, that’s what I would have had to say. It would have been chicken not to. But because of this great story, this heroic Jesus (and this touches me every time I think about it), the ultimate Unfairness Doctrine was introduced to human events.

It’s unfair because he gets the enhanced interrogation technique of his day and age, and I’m doing the Tennessee waltz, thinking about what kind of people I think should have health care, and trying to put one over on myself and come up with a case for an afterlife.

Now I think Americans, who’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’ and that now are gone, gone, gone, should maybe think about that great story.  We should remember that he didn’t look like us, didn’t dress like us, certainly didn’t think like us, and was for all intents and purposes, the Ultimate Outsider. But He had, bless his heart, what we have not.

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