Monday, June 23, 2008

American Originals

I spent a fair portion of the weekend watching old M*A*S*H episodes. I haven't watched this show with any gusto since my early teens. It hasn't lost much in twenty years. I still think it was the best overall show that's ever been on television. The humor is simple, but the depth of the show goes as far as you wish to delve.

I think I like the show because it is filled with extreme idealistic characters that one can only aspire to mimic, yet they are very real, very human, and of course, very likable. I don't think I've cried this much in years. It's such an intense show that watching one episode right after the next builds up lot of conflicting emotions and intense thoughts.

I love the patriotism of the show while proselytizing the flaws of our country. I watched this show endlessly as a kid, perhaps that is where I developed the habit. Being able to be outspoken against the mistakes of our government is one of the tenets that this country was based upon. It scares me that it has become so casual an exercise to label such critics as "unamerican", despite this knowledge. To me, the egregious unamerican acts include not allowing people to speak their minds.

I have always considered myself to be hyper-patriotic. I really do believe we live in the best country in the world, but I simply don't like the way it has been changing in my lifetime; even before my lifetime. I have always been fond of John Philip Sousa's marches from the beginning of the last century. They're very inspirational and are by definition American Originals. (For my swing dance friends: They are also the precursor to swing music. Don't believe me? Listen to one of them while listening to the earliest swing. They have the same baseline. It took a number of years for swing mature from sweeter to hotter.)

These marches were also hyper-patriotic. They inspired American citizens to enlist in WWI & WWII by the millions. Of course, we were dragged into those wars under false pretenses, like every war from last century. But at least people were proud of their country and what they were doing.

Our government no longer seeks to inspire the population into doing what it wants, and I think that is a shame. It's no less deceptive than the beat down they are doing now, but at least people could hold their heads up high. These days the government seeks to terrorize its own citizenry into doing what it wants. It's grinding people into submission through a constant barrage of home grown terrorism, and when people get jaded just enough they take it the next step further.

When was the last time our government sought to inspire the citizens? When was the last time they set a humanistic goal? A goal that was not just for us, but for the good of all mankind? I can think of none in my lifetime. Setting aside my distaste JFK's personal life, the only one I can think of is his goal of putting a man on the moon. Admittedly, the goal was inspired to show the world communism was inferior, but that misses the point of setting a goal and achieving it. It was something the American people could be proud of.

What goals does our government have set for us now? The end of terrorism? Please, they are the primary perpetrators of terrorism in the world. We currently have two generations growing up in this country, a third on the way, and not once have they seen their government do anything altruistic. We're supposed to be the best, wealthiest, strongest, etc. country in the world, but we haven't set a world goal with even the slightest nobility in over 45 years.

If there is one repetitive sentiment in the episodes of M*A*S*H, it is a constant battle of morale. Probably one-third (or more) of all the episodes involve some form of attempt to boost the camp's morale. It's no small wonder that people lack direction and goals of their own, when their own government can't instill a positive direction for its own actions, how can the people be expected to contribute positively to society? If our government is going to perpetually dupe us, the least they could do is try to raise morale throughout the country.

Anyway, these are the things I think about when I watch M*A*S*H.

1 comment:

yess said...

Patriotism, and especially the efforts of governments to excite people's nationalistic feelings was a thing of the past. The past of my country, and of the USSR was like that. full of propaganda, making people believe that they are perfect people, their government is the best government. These policies have helped countries to develop over the time. Yet, our didn't last long. Only about 35 years after the republic was established in 1923. This is a more materialistic world. Propaganda is still there, but is not as naive as it used to be. They used to address to, how can I put it, higher feelings, more humane feelings in the past. Now they address to the lizard parts of our brains. hatred, fear, terror, need for protection, need to kill to survive.
I liked the other world better. There is very few in this new world to like.