I love history for a number of reasons.
First off, many of the true stories you come across are stranger than fiction. You just can’t make this stuff up!
The other reason is that with some of these historical accounts you can clearly begin to see the first glimpse of missteps that led our society down a bad path to the seemingly hopeless mess we are still contending with in the present day.
Look around and there is no shortage of politicians and talking heads pointing fingers, suggesting who is to blame when the truer answer lies with us all collectively taking a moment to look in the mirror.
And as the wise old Forest Gump once said, “My Mama always said you’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on.”
I tend to put it slightly different. If you are ignorant as to where you’ve been, then you have no idea how things came to be this way. If you don’t know how things came to be this way, then how the hell can you expect to fix your problems?
America is a wonderful place where dreams are still attainable but it suffers from a horrible case of amnesia.
This ongoing amnesia has led to a lot of troubles that only appear to be metastasizing in this country. Most, if not all, continue to persist because key historical figures in positions of leadership failed to do the right thing at the onset of the problem.
Let’s take a look at a few of these failures in American leadership and decency shall we?
Here are the Top 10 Mistakes in American History That Still Haunt Us to the Present Day:
The First Settlers Couldn’t Live in Peace with the Folks in the Old World let alone the New One:
When Europe arrived on the shores of the Atlantic they were forced to acknowledge that there was already not just one nation here, but a number of them. It didn’t take long for the fighting to commence with King Philip’s War in the late 1600s. Over time, native populations that could not be decimated by disease were eventually finished off with bullets.
Westward Settlement and More of the Same Bad Expansionist Behavior:
Pioneers venturing westward, continued to disrespect the rights and territories of peoples that were here first. Treaties were crafted then broken when deemed inconvenient. Ultimately those that did not succumb were relegated to worthless tracts of land far from European settlement. And so today we are surrounded by only a shadow of what once comprised the First Peoples. Yes, in order for America to exist as it does now our for-bearers committed genocide. But hey, might makes right, right? King Leopold II of Belgium killed millions of natives in the Congo for the sake of self-enrichment, why should we be any different?
Even as a Nation State we Couldn’t live in Peace with our Neighbors:
The entire Southwest Territory of this country really should be Mexico. We can all feel it, we live it every day and yet we still manage to live oblivious to the fact that just over 150 years ago this country’s leadership continued on its trend of taking territory that it was not entitled to. This was nothing but a shameful land grab. It started with Texas (as most things do), which was part of the Spanish Empire for over 300 years. Mexico made the mistake of inviting southern settlers to immigrate and settle. Problem was these were slaveholders, which caused a problem when Mexico decided to outlaw slavery (yup, they did it first). So, first the settlers rebelled and announced Texas as an independent state. Then the US Government annexed it into the Union. This same trend was occurring across many of the other Western States. Mexico saw the writing on the wall and so we had the Mexican-American War. Mexico lost badly and so the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in 1848, which called for the US to pay Mexico $15 million for the cession of the associated territories to the U.S. including ownership of California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado. A hell of a deal and in meeting with America’s expansionist designs at the time. This effectively set the stage for a century of unprecedented wealth building on the US territories with a curtailed (or I would say amputated) ability on the part of Mexico for progress. As such, over the years the imbalance has led to the ongoing immigration issues we contend with to the present day. We are part of the problem.
Human Bondage & Forced Labor:
Soon as the first settlers arrived from Old Europe, they found that they needed some extra folks to do the hard labor no one else wanted to do (particularly in the South where the economy was agrarian). Sound familiar? It should! But hey, why pay people a fair wage when you can own them, right? The ongoing trauma that has been affected upon black human beings starting from the very beginnings of slavery on down to the current ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement is by far the most shameful failure on the part of our Country to even adequately address its past crimes against humanity. Read “The Souls of Black Folk” by W.E.B. DuBois published in 1903. It not only gives one a window’s view into the reality and consciousness of the African American at the turn of the last century, it also helps one to understand the state of mind of their descendants that have inherited that reality and are contending with the fallout of the present. Yes, we have put a black man in the White House, but that has not resolved our issues or our past history. Not by a long shot.
We Had the First Weapons of Mass Destruction:
The World does tend to follow America’s lead. Unfortunately we have the dubious distinction of leading the world into the nuclear age. Clearly some nation was bound to do this eventually (Germany was working hard at it during WWII). Here’s the thing though. Not only did we create the first operating nuclear bomb, to date we are the only country in the world that actually used not one, but two on actual cities with people living in them. Yes we were at war. But these were civilians. Trust me, one “Little Boy” could have been dropped somewhere remote and filmed and the world would have gotten the message.
We are Meddlers:
We have meddled far too much in the affairs of other countries and their governments all in the name of national security or our political/corporate interests. It has to stop. There’s a laundry list of countries in Central America and in the Middle East that would probably be in much better shape today if we stayed the hell out of their business and looked after our own.
Here’s a short list of just the ones in Central/South America:
- El Salvador
It is no wonder that the majority of these countries to the south of us are basket cases!
The Killing Off of the American Middle Class:
And the take over of the corporate lobby. Both political parties gave away the store starting in the 1980s. Have you noticed how since the 70s, the cost of living in this country has become exorbitantly expensive and a decent standard much more difficult to attain? There’s a reason for that and it’s called corporate representation. Our congressmen whether on the local or national level have been busy looking after their own needs and those of their corporate overlords at our expense. We continue to be told believable stories that misdirect the cause of our troubles, when in reality the blame rests squarely on two parties; our politicians and those stuffing big checks in their pockets. Look at the present shenanigans led by organizations like ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). Things will not get better on this front until we make these supposed non-profit institutions illegal to operate here or anywhere else for that matter.
Transition of Public Services to the Private Sector:
Remember when you could get clean drinking water straight out of the tap? Now you have to buy it in a plastic bottle. Most of the push on this is coming from the Grand Old Party but they tend to be the worse offenders when it comes to selling out. You hear it all the time. Privatize health care, the postal service, education, even our theaters and arenas! Where does it stop? Answer is it doesn’t until there are no longer any assets held by the general public for the general public. Someone behind the scenes always has to make a profit off every human exchange. As a society we need to walk this back.
Misinterpretation of the Second Amendment:
We have an unhealthy love affair with a disgusting but unfortunately necessary device intended for one purpose; to kill. I’ve heard and seen people who wax poetic about their firearm of choice and where they like to go to target practice. It always leaves me a bit cold. We don’t live in the wild west anymore. Even if we do, we shouldn’t. Guns are why we lost some of our most cherished leaders. You know who they are. But now with the introduction of mass shootings over the past few decades, the game has been upped quite a bit by the demons among us. I personally don’t care if an American wants to pack a handgun or keep a rifle in their truck for personal protection. I think it’s safe to assume the Second Amendment covers off on that quite nicely. And that one piece should be sufficient to get you out of any skirmish you think might threaten your person (real or imagined).
Purposeful Dumbing Down of Mainstream America:
There was a time when we actually had a pretty good educational system in America. By the late 1800s we had one of the highest literacy rates in the world. Access overall improved until we got into the latter half of the 20th Century. Investment stagnated (look at Detroit Public Schools – the buildings are literally falling apart). Teachers are not very well paid and so we don’t get the best and brightest in that field (especially in the poorer neighborhoods). So the investment and talent is simply not there. And my guess is that this is by design. Corporate governance does not work very well when the masses are highly educated and not so easily manipulated. I would argue that there has been a conscious dumbing down of our society since the 70s and that this has been done on purpose to keep us in the dark as to how our government operates and who is controlling it. Our public schools have failed us mainly because we failed to properly invest and staff the system already in place. Instead of building and staffing more schools to address the educational needs of our children, we are closing, consolidating and arguing to give people credits to pay for their education elsewhere privately. It’s a sham and shouldn’t be tolerated by any citizen who actually would like to see this country’s best years be ahead of it versus the rear view mirror.