Posted by: nastylittletruths | December 7, 2010

The American Idea

This country is an idea, and one that’s lit the world for two centuries and treason against that idea is not just a crime against the living… This ground holds the graves of people who died for it, who gave what Lincoln called the last full measure of devotion.. of fidelity” – Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe) in Episode 16 of The West Wing, Season Two

I spent some time in the US last month with some young ‘uns (at least I wasn’t called Grandpa, but one was calling me Papi while we were in a bar having way too much to drink…) who were interested in the minefield of international business – especially in developing countries. It is, for the most part, a cultural thing that you can’t teach, but the successful ones are those who learn to understand and appreciate different cultures. If you need to understand why this is important, try reading the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977.

But this post isn’t so much of what I was able to teach, but what I learnt from these men and women. Americans truly are a remarkable people, and to me what makes them so is that sense of history that binds them. When I think about how skinny our history books are and what passes for the subject here, I am ashamed. How many people under 40 can tell you who Albert Gomes was or what transpired during the Butler riots? What significant events can we recall that changed our course as a nation and made us a different and better people?

I looked at these Americans standing up the first day to introduce themselves to me and their first sense of history was to their university (apparently college basketball was going on…) so there was the go this team, go that team and if someone else was there who happened to be an alumnus of the same school there was a lot of oorahs! thrown in for good measure.

But as usual when I’m in a crowd like this, it’s the war veterans that catches my eye – the ones who served in the Army, the Navy, the Marines… These are the men and women who are bound to each other in a way only fighting a war can. I spoke a few times to a baby-faced one who had his tour in Iraq, and another more reserved one who was in the Navy and there’s something almost perceptible in them that we as a people do not have. There are those who will tell you, and justify, that without war there can be no peace… 

Americans have been doing it for generations. They serve their country in a battlefield far from home based on an idea and a conviction that they are protecting their way of life.

These people are free and I envy them in many ways, but mostly because my people are still bound by the smallness of their minds and ambitions. Perfection doesn’t exist, and certainly not in the US, but I tell everyone, who talk for talking sake, that I’ll take the US any day over the Islamists who want to dominate the world by terror and China who is already dominating the world with money and a big stick.

Trinidad and Tobago with fidelity… Where is it? Are we an idea or an afterthought?

** Remembering Pearl Harbour – December 7th, 1941 **



  1. Americans have been doing it for generations. They serve their country in a battlefield far from home based on an idea and a conviction that they are protecting their way of life.

    Americans are convinced their way is the only way, and that they alone have a right to dictate to the rest of the world how it should be run.

    Hence their interference in matters that often do not concern them, and unjustified wars with many.

    • Oh, they always have an interest… Whether it’s energy, keeping close to another enemy, whatever. I don’t think that they’ve entered any conflict (or maybe started one) without having an objective that’s in their interest.

      What I forgot to mention in my post is that today marks 69 years since the attack on Pearl Harbour and we all know how that ended.

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