Thursday, September 9, 2010

Puritanical America

This week, I was watching Anthony Bourdaine's "No Reservations", culinary travel show. He was showing various clips, leading up to his celebratory 100th episode which takes place in Paris. In one of the clips they showed from previous episodes, he was eating some fabulous food or another in a foreign country and it was stated that the US doesn't have these kinds of foods. That its most likely from our Puritanical background that it was unacceptable to enjoy good food as anti God, or some such nonsense.

I fully understand what was being said. I don't honestly remember if it was Tony or not who said this in the program, so please don't send him mail about it. But if you do, tell him I said, "Hi."

The theory here is valid.

Way back when at the beginnings of this country, the Puritans did think we shouldn't do certain things because it was inappropriate and offensive against God. I always thought that was just stupid. God, gives you all these wonderful things, so ignore them? What a slap in the face. Balance in life is what is important, not turning your back on the goodness life has to offer. It is a dull and stupid mind that thinks extremes are how to live a proper life. It takes effort to live properly, carefully, not to delve completely into excess, or to fully ignore what is lovely in life. How is misery or being miserable in life, Godly?

There was also around this time, the belief in the Protestant "work ethic". AKA, Puritan Work Ethic, attributable to the work of Max Weber. It is based upon the notion that the Calvinist emphasis on the necessity for hard work as a component of a person's calling and worldly success and as a sign of personal salvation - Wikipedia.

I've heard it said since my childhood that this nation became great because of these things. Perhaps. But also perhaps, that is not any longer so necessary.

"The Calvinist and Lutheran theologians taught that one could only be saved by God's predestination. Since it was impossible to know if one was predestined (since one might not receive the "grace of perseverance," and one's conversion might be only lip-service), the notion developed that it might be possible to discern that a person was elect (predestined) by observing their way of life. Hard work and frugality were thought to be two important consequences of being one of the elect; thus, protestants were attracted to these qualities, seeking to assure themselves that they were really predestined." - Wikipedia

And so you can see, from this, we at one time believed that to be extremely boring and to not enjoy the gifts of the world, that we could become more Godly. And thus, our young nation receiving all the religious nuts and rejects of the West (oh, yes, this is true too), we started by working hard, not worrying about luxuries and merely existing, rather than, truly Living.

It was an understandable thing during a period of strife and little prosperity where hard work and no thought about reward was necessary.

That was then, this is now.

As is true with many things, when times change and lifestyles or ways of life (especially true in Religious doctrines) do not, life becomes some what twisted. We can see now that this has become somewhat problematic in these modern times. We no longer have a need to struggle as we did then; when, to not work meant, you died.

When to not work, meant you would be burned in Hell for all Eternity.

This has also allowed our country and citizens to be buffaloed into working and simply put, not complaining enough. Something you don't see as much in Europe's older countries where the citizens won't put up with it like we do here.

Why is France only now raising their retirement age from 60, to 62? What is ours now, 66? With talk of raising it again? Maybe, eventually, we'll simply never retire, just die working? Unless we do something about it.

Ask yourself, why are we such slaves to the corporations in this country? Why do we put up with it? Why are corporations considered of more importance than the citizens? How, did we get here?

We should have been, for decades now, pushing for these corporations to make less money, and the employees to be getting more and more benefits, working less hours, fewer days, getting more vacation time each year, retiring younger on better retirement packages. But greed and mismanagement have lead to just the opposite. And why? I would argue its due to a mindset that was originally based in the religious work ethic and attitudes that should have been replaced by more modern considerations a long, long time ago.

Think about that, the next time your boss asks you to take a week off that year without pay for the good of the company. Or you are told you cannot have a raise this year. Or you're vacation is cut short. Or ask you if can you work from home, after hours, for no extra pay. Be a team player they say, be a hero. What other words will they abuse to trick you into giving up more of your personal life? What has your company done for you lately, other than to make you think you owe them everything, simply because you now have a job?

Are times tough right now? Yes. Should we be pushing for all this now? Perhaps not quite yet. But, the mindset in this country most assuredly needs to change. People need to think more about everyone getting a piece of the pie and not just those in power who can take, not just the stock holders, not just the power brokers.

After all, what was it Thomas Jefferson said about revolution? Sometimes, its good to just consider the words of our of our Founding Fathers, to reflect from time to time on just what they thought and how it should be impacting us now. Don't listen to me, just think about it and make up your own mind about how you feel, about how you are being treated.

"An enlightened people, and an energetic public opinion... will control and enchain the aristocratic spirit of the government." --Thomas Jefferson to Chevalier de Ouis, 1814. ME 14:130

"Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing [a people] to slavery." --Thomas Jefferson: Rights of British America, 1774. (*) ME 1:193, Papers 1:125

"When patience has begotten false estimates of its motives, when wrongs are pressed because it is believed they will be borne, resistance becomes morality." --Thomas Jefferson to M. deStael, 1807. ME 11:282

"As revolutionary instruments (when nothing but revolution will cure the evils of the State) [secret societies] are necessary and indispensable, and the right to use them is inalienable by the people." --Thomas Jefferson to William Duane, 1803. FE 8:256

"War... is not the most favorable moment for divesting the monarchy of power. On the contrary, it is the moment when the energy of a single hand shows itself in the most seducing form." --Thomas Jefferson to Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, 1788. ME 7:115

Am I advocating here a call to arms?

No! War is bad. Revolution, is good, but it does not have to be bloody.

Advertisements are the first thing that need to change. They should take a pro people slant and stop with the pro corporation slants. In fact, we should demand it.

What is needed here, is a national mind, set to the effort of bettering the situation of the People. Heroes are those who make our lives better and they should be rewarded. Those who take and do not help to increase the quality of life of the Citizenry, who only think about themselves, the stock holders, the "bottom line", should be looked upon as selfish and enemies of the culture of the Nation.

The People of America, by this time in our history, should be working six hour days, four day weeks, thirty day yearly vacations and they should be happy and healthy, settling into a young retirement. Why do we not have any of that, yet? Maybe, because no one was asking for it, pushing for it, demanding it and not letting them run and hide under rocks anymore.

So, start asking yourself, and others, why isn't this happening? Who is in control and why did we let them get there? And how do we stop it?

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