What Makes Us Americans

Richard Mason

What Makes Us Americans

Well, what makes Americans what we are today? I guess you could fall back on our diversity. You know the old melting pot stuff, but I think we’re a whole lot more than a mix of around-the-world refugees. Yes, I may be bragging, when I say Americans are a special breed of cats but I say that in the light of our place in today’s world. However, I don’t think being the world’s most powerful nation or the greatest economic power defines us. No, we’re sure not one smooth, big ball of economic and military wax, and that’s not all bad either. Sure we’ve got some rough edges, which also adds into what make us who we are. Yes, some of our rough edges make us prone to violence and that’s not all bad either. When an American, sitting at a computer in Las Vegas, puts a hellfire missile in the ear of a Somalis warlord, who is committing genocide that American is reacting the same way our first troops responded at Lexington and Concord. But there’s not any doubt that we have violence intertwined in our soul. If you don’t believe me, watch two demonstrations meet—one right and one left—exercising their free speech complete with clubs and knives. Yes, you’ll be looking at another wild fight when the Alt-right, Nazis and unrepentant Confederates meet Black Lives Matter, the Anarchists and the Ultra-Left, and that’s not all bad either. Hey, what if they didn’t care? So sell tickets and let ’em get after it.
Yes, the spirit of America has a streak of violent intertwined in it and that’s not all bad either. We wouldn’t have a country if our forefathers hadn’t fought it out in the streets of Boston. Of course, we thrive on contact sports. Well, what do you call those Gladiators who trot out on the field every Saturday in the fall and we have the same little routine the ancient Romans had when one of them was ‘hurt’. They are carted off and the game goes on, and that’s not all bad either. It is part of who we are as Americans. But it’s a little different since the Roman ones died right there on the field and the American ones take another 30 or 40 years to die from the brain injuries, but that’s not all bad either or maybe it is. Hell, how should I know, I’m just a geologist who likes to write.
But the true spirit of Americans comes through when fellow Americans are in need. The response to Hurricane Harvey is a good example. A few days after the city of Houston became Lake Houston, we drove to Dallas on Interstate 20. We were in East Texas when we passed a caravan of Caddo Parish sheriff and police officers escorting several 18 wheelers loaded with relief supplies heading for South Texas. That impressed me but not as much as the pickup truck we passed a few miles on down the road. It was an older, non-air conditioned truck driven by a bearded young man who looked to be about 30. He had two large flags flying on the front of his truck; an American and a Christian. In the back of his truck he had an aluminum rescue boat with a motor and the boat was packed to overflowing with cases of bottled water. He was doing just what Americans have been doing ever since there was an America, he was responding to other Americans in need.
No, we’re not a perfect country but that’s not all bad either. I’ve lived overseas and visited Switzerland several times and it is as close to a perfect country as any place I’ve seen but just the idea that I would live there and be bored to death is beyond my thinking.
I worked in Benghazi, Libya of all places, for a couple of years and when I returned to the States, the customs agent in New York handed me my passport back and said, “Welcome home” it brought out a since of pride and a smile. Yes, I’m proud to be an American and I actually like some of America’s rough edges. When I go for a run or more likely a long walk and I see beer cans at the stop sign, I know how long it takes one of our good-old-boys to drive from the convenience store and finish a Budweiser and that’s not all bad either, because I know those guys are part of the backbone of our country and we’d be something like the French with bad food if we didn’t have them, and yes, that would be bad. When I was in college at The University and in love with a Smackover girl, I had to hitchhike 300 miles home on the weekends to see her, I could always count on those good-old-boys for a pickup truck ride.
Of course, we have our Chamber of Commerce and even our Governor still out looking for new jobs for Arkansas, even though we can’t fill the openings we have now, and that’s not all bad either. What if, instead of having ‘em out beating the bushes for a Toyota factory, they joined the work force? Gosh, they would set productivity back ten years, and that would be bad.
Of course, the 2020 Presidential race is about to start up, but that’s not all bad….wait a minute: that is all bad…unless you’re selling advertising.


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