I grew up in a mass delusional world.
Most Americans back then were afflicted with a something akin to delusions of grandeur — only different, in a special “American” way.
We thought we were a special people. We were divinely chosen to spread our form of Democracy (American Capitalism) throughout the world. We were entitled because we were the victors. We had triumphed over evil. After all, had we not just singlehandedly won World War II?
It was our manifest destiny to spread our businesses throughout the world and impose our way of thinking because we were good, just and always right. And, of course, everyone else was envious of our American Way.
The TV told us how great we were, too. Superman said he fought for, Truth, Justice, and the American Way.
O.K. then. So, did I.
I not only believed in various versions of the Cowboy Creed Creeds* I saw on TV and read about, I actually tried to live by them, too. Those cowboy heroes — Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry, the Lone Ranger, and Roy Rogers — along with my other heroes, Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, and later, Sgt. Saunders and 2nd Lt. Hanley of the TV Series, Combat!, were real to me. They weren’t actors playing parts. No, I believed they were real. The things they did were the things I could aspire to, as well.
Along with millions of other American kids, I admired the even-handedness of Fess Parker’s, Davy Crockett; the inspirational bravery of his Daniel Boone; the self-confidence of Vic Morrow’s, Sgt. Saunders; the “take care your men before yourself” of Rick Jason’s, 2nd. Lt. Hanley; and most certainly, the “never leave your wounded” and “under fire bravery” of Conlan Carter’s, Doc.
It wasn’t only me, you know. Millions of other kids thought so.
It was the American Delusion of the '50s and '60s. That’s the reason some of us were and remain so messed up. We believed in the inherent good of mankind and we knew it was up to us to make things better.
That was then.
It’s now… now.
Things are different.
Today. What can one say about today?
We no longer have a vision of what it means to be an American. We have just lost our way.
*The Lone Ranger Creed
- I believe that to have a friend, a man must be one.
- That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
- That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
- In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.
- That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
- That "this government, of the people, by the people, and for the people," shall live always.
- That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
- That sooner or later...somewhere...somehow...we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
- That all things change, but the truth, and the truth alone lives on forever.
- I believe in my Creator, my country, my fellow man.
So, what does it mean to be an American... today?
Gene Autry - Back in the Saddle Again (from Back in the Saddle 1941)