We live in an age of facts. Coming at us faster and more furious than ever. It’s been estimated the total of human information first doubled by about 1800. But then that doubled by 1900. Again by 1950. And now, with a deluge of daily digital data, it’s doubling exponentially. Leaving the human brain’s storage capacity far behind.
Still, one of the facts that never seems to change is each country’s myths.
Myths are not always lies. They are a country’s collective beliefs about itself which have the power to move and motivate entire populations. Like most myths, America’s trace back to our early days. Like the enduring myths we’re an exceptional people [see colonies like the Puritans for details], we’re destined to lead the world [see Native Americans and Mexicans for details], and we’re rugged individualists [see strong silent icons from Davey Crockett to Clint Eastwood for more details].
Myths — something like mysteries and magic — can energize an entire people, helping channel their national energies. So many myths, large and little, dot the lands of the world. The pyramids of Egypt ..the Olympian gods of ancient Greece…Stonehenge in England…Mecca in Saudi Arabia…Lourdes in France ….Fujiyama in Japan….even the Teutonic racial mythologies exploited by Hitler in Germany.
What to do with the great myths?
Some of us saddle and ride them for all they’re worth [watch a Fourth of July celebration, a national burial at Arlington Cemetery, a Notre Dame football game]. Some of us see some myths as dangerous broncos to be broken [consider the myths Blacks, women, gay, and handicapped are inferior].
In the great national corral, America has this herd of myths snorting and pawing. Either they need to be ridden for all they’re worth, or broken for all their evil. What are you planning to do, pardner…?
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