Sunday, July 4, 2010

America, the Beautiful: Can we believe again?

Heroism, beating the odds, being fearless in the face of annihilation, rugged individualism, survival of the fittest, sacrifices for the greater good, saving for the future. WIN! Against all odds.
These are all parts of the American belief system. It is part of our common creed.
As Americans, we believe in the impossible. We believed we could go around the world in 80 days and sped up the process with supersonic speed. We believed we could stop indestructible aliens and save the planet and our civilization. Despite our differences of nation, tongue, race and creed, we, the American people, always win for the world.
And now, we can’t even stop an oil leak a mile under the sea. It has been almost 80 days to this writing that raw crude oil is spewing into the sea. And not only the environment and beaches are dying, our belief system is taking another direct hit.
It was only some years ago that we witnessed people abandoned and dying in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. We weren’t prepared. And our response was weak and seemed to forget the importance of the lives of Americans. All Americans.
What happened to the courage and innovation that was once the envy of the world. On this day, July 4th, we celebrate our Independence from tyranny and limitations. Daring men (yes men) fought a war of rebellion and formed this nation that has prospered with our belief system.
Remember the movie, Independence Day. Our nation saved the world against a spaceship a quarter of the mass of the moon with dozens of smaller ships 15 miles in diameter. Common citizens warn the President of the impending attack and despite his reluctance, he prepares for battle. But on July 2, the aliens destroy major cities across the globe. Air force is dispatched the following to no avail. But American innovation and resolve devises a plan to take out the mother ship. It is a last ditch effort on July 4th to defeat the enemy. And we win, in a blaze of fireworks as the mothership implodes by a nuclear device.
It makes you feel proud. Granted this is only Hollywood. But it has a deeper meaning to those who believe in our abilities to overcome circumstances and situations that seem impossible. We win.
So again, why can’t we overcome a broken pipe a mile below the sea.
Bruce Willis plays many great roles. In the Die Hard series, he is one cop and takes a troupe of professional hardened terrorists. He wins. He always plays the American hero: cocky, witty, clever and resourceful.
In Armageddon, Willis plays the role of an oil driller. The nation calls upon him and his band of misfit drillers and geologists to save the planet from a meteor racing towards earth. They train quickly to become astronauts and land on the meteor, drill a hole in it and detonate a nuclear device to obliterate the meteor and spare earth from its last day. Needless to say, they succeed with the loss of Willis, who nobly stays behind to assure the nuclear device detonates.
So again, who is calling Willis to go down there and fix the Goddamn leak and spare the American Coastline from ecological annihilation?
American films are a reflection of our common consciousness. We know they are not reality, but for that moment, we believe in our ability to win and overcome all things. They become real to us. And when such realities like Katrina or the British Petroleum disaster occur, we as Americans have a collective sentiment that we should conquer such issues with innovation, bravery and resolve. We do not blame or pass the buck.
So who is leading our nation in a moment of ecological peril? Where is the social responsibility of BP?
One must ask in earnest, do we truly believe anymore. And if not, where are we going as a people

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