Friday, June 13, 2008

United We Stand

Can Good History Repeat Itself?

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it: Spanish born American philosopher George Santayana who was born in the 19th century and lived halfway through the twentieth said it. Perhaps if immigration laws had been in effect in the nineteenth century we would not have had the benefit of his speculative philosophy and literary criticism. But that’s another story. The quote is oft repeated but it came to mind for me as the result of an email from friend, college professor and football coach in California. He asked what my solution would be to solve the energy crisis. I posed the question to a higher authority, Mrs. Dr. Forgot, and her answer was simple and eloquent. Spouses often have that uppity way of citing history to make a point (“You didn’t empty the trash and now we have ants everywhere.”) What follows is the upshot of that conversation.

A Reflection of America in the 1930s: After the excesses of the “Roaring Twenties” in America, the stock market crashed, having been bolstered by speculators. Food became scarce due to the dust bowl, banks repossessed homes and farms as the real estate market crashed when people were unable to pay their mortgages (starting to sound familiar yet?) and the United States joined the rest of the world and became one more country plunged into a worldwide depression. Many lost hope. Some took their own lives. As the decade came to a close war erupted in Europe. Hitler invaded Spain and began his campaign of terrorism in Europe. America vowed it would not be dragged into another World War as it had been a few decades earlier in the “War to End All Wars” later to become known as World War I.

Pearl Harbor Bombed, December 7, 1941: The lazy atmosphere of Hawaii was shocked and awed early one Sunday morning when Japanese bombers attacked the U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor. President Roosevelt’s speech described it as “A day that will live in infamy.” Still the U.S. was ill-prepared to go to war. Weapons were outdated, most of the Navy’s ships had been damaged or destroyed, the Army Air Corps (pre-runner to the Air Force) had few pilots and fewer planes, and Army troops still used WW-I era weaponry. The country was in crisis and the American people, many of whom were immigrants or first or second generation Americans, set aside their own needs for the good of the country. Factories began to produce military vehicles instead of passenger cars, steel mills produced steel for everything from tanks to guns to ammunition. Americans came together. Children saved tinfoil and string and their parents accepted rationing of gas and food because it was in the best interest of the country. A few years of American sacrifice resulted in America becoming a major world power.

Opportunities Gained, Opportunities Lost: The growing up of America as the result of her sacrifices for the good of the country proved the ingenuity and power American’s possess. Seventeen years after the end of World War II the Soviet Union sent an unmanned satellite named Sputnik into orbit. Four years after that event America faced another crisis when Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Again, America showed its mettle. At the urging of a young charismatic President John Kennedy, in less than a decade U.S. astronaut John Glenn walked on the surface of the moon.

America again faces crisis: On September 11, 2001 a group of terrorists bombed the World Trade Center in New York. Another young charismatic president had the trust of the people to deal with the crisis but as it turned out his administration mismanaged the issue badly. Seven years after the bombing its perpetrator roams free, a country that posed no threat to the U.S. was invaded and remains occupied by our troops, more than 4,000 brave young American men and women have perished as well as hundreds of thousands of the invaded country's locals. The occupation has lasted longer than nearly any other war in our country’s history, and an oil crisis threatens to bring us to our knees economically as we teeter on the brink of bankruptcy. Instead of coming together after the 9/11 tragedy (as we did initially) the country has become more divided than any time in our history since the Viet Nam war. The United States faces another dire emergency. Now we must learn from history.

Take a page from America The Capable: America needs to examine her successes. Instead of demeaning presidential candidates with slime and filth, we must unite as we did to prepare for WW-II, put a man on the moon, and many other examples of things our country has done that no other was able to accomplish. We must suspend our sniping over differences of political parties, racism, sexism, gay marriages, global warming, where to drill for more oil, and all the other phantom political issues, and instead act as one. We must put all available resources into developing renewable energy sources. If we could put a man on the moon in less than a decade, Americans are capable of developing vehicles that operate on sun power or hydrogen and that do not pollute, or some other form of affordable renewable energy. If we were able to develop a hydrogen bomb in fewer than 18 months Americans can develop cheap and efficient methods of providing power to our homes and businesses. When and where can this dream of unity happen? The time is now and the place is America. It is this writer’s hope that the energy crisis is a severe enough crisis to motivate Americans to put aside individual and political differences and work toward a common goal. We’ve done it before and I believe we can do it again.

A little blogging music Maestro... “America the Beautiful.”

Dr. Forgot
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