It was the Best of Times, it was the Worst of Times….

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Yeah, I know. Dickens wasn’t American, but he was an amazing author. And he had a point. Right now…. yes. Things are bad. It doesn’t matter where you stand on certain political issues, or when you think the Third World War will take place, things suck. It’s the ‘worst of times’.

And then there are leaps in technology, wonderful acts of human love, courage, generosity. There are moments that make you sit back and think, “Man. Life is good.” Then it’s the ‘best of times’.

It’s always the ‘best of times, the worst of times’. No period is ever perfect, and no period is ever without the moments that make it special. In the good ‘ole days, bad things were still happening.

Chris Rice wrote a song called 8th Grade. In it, one of the chorus lines is, “Why does the past always seem safer? / Maybe because at least we know we made it.” Yes, we made it. We made it out of the worst of times. Who says we can’t do it again? Who says that the American Dream isn’t what it was? It’s ALWAYS the worst of times, and it’s ALWAYS the best of times. Life isn’t going to be perfect, not by a long shot. But we can own it, and we can share the best of times with everyone. Things are always bad. But you know what?

We always come out stronger.

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American Phrase Friday

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Hey, guys! Today I’m going to do something a little different. This poem is called America For Me, and it was written by Henry Van Dyke.

 

‘Tis fine to see the Old World, and travel up and down
Among the famous palaces and cities of renown,
To admire the crumbly castles and the statues of the kings,—
But now I think I’ve had enough of antiquated things.

           So it’s home again, and home again, America for me!
My heart is turning home again, and there I long to be,
In the land of youth and freedom beyond the ocean bars,
Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars!

Oh, London is a man’s town, there’s power in the air;
And Paris is a woman’s town, with flowers in her hair;
And it’s sweet to dream in Venice, and it’s great to study Rome;
But when it comes to living there is no place like home.

I like the German fir-woods, in green battalions drilled;
I like the gardens of Versailles with flashing fountains filled;
But, oh, to take your hand, my dear, and ramble for a day
In the friendly western woodland where Nature has her way!

I know that Europe’s wonderful, yet something seems to lack:
The Past is too much with her, and the people looking back.
But the glory of the Present is to make the Future free,—
We love our land for what she is and what she is to be.

           Oh, it’s home again, and home again, America for me!
I want a ship that’s westward bound to plough the rolling sea,
To the bléssed Land of Room Enough beyond the ocean bars,
Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars

American Line Dancing

Quite a few people, (myself included) tend to think that our nation doesn’t have much…..culture, if you know what I mean. Sadly, most of the indigenous cultures were ignored as we plowed through America, and we’re too young to have anything that makes people say, “That’s America. That’s her.”

Except we do. I was talking with my parents yesterday, and the conversation drifted to line dancing. It’s uniquely, 100% American. Not because we’re the only country that does it, although that part’s true, but it reflects us. Think about it! America is build on team work, on every person helping the other. In line dancing, you can do it by yourself, but it doesn’t look as good. Yeah, we can do all of our amazing things on our own, but we all know that it doesn’t work that well.

In line dancing, every one is doing the same thing. The same thing. That’s it. But it looks so cool! And it’s because all the dancers are working together, because none of them are clamming the spotlight. Line dancing is American, not only in where it’s preformed, but what it is.

No Papers?

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In the movie The Hunt for Red October, the commanding officers of the Red October submarine are planning to defect from the USSR during the Cold War. The movie is gripping, sad, and filled with wonderful suspense as the US and the USSR try and find this missing submarine. One in order to help her crew, the other in order to wipe them from the face of the earth.

In the midst of all the action and angst that the movie has to offer, there is a quieter scene where the Soviet Captain and his First Officer are sitting in the Captain’s quarters, drinking together. The First Officer starts to talk about what he will do when they finally reach America and freedom. He’ll buy a “recreational vehicle”, he says. He’ll marry a pretty country girl, and farm rabbits. Then he’ll take his truck and drive all over the country just because he can. “And [I will] drive from state to state. Do they let you do that?” The Captain replies that he thinks they can. Then the First Officer asks one more question. “No papers?” The Captain smiles slightly. “No papers.” He agrees.

The first time I watched this movie, I didn’t appreciate the power or the sadness of that scene. The First Officer can’t believe that he would be able to go state-to-state without needing to go past guards, or have papers proving that he’s allowed to cross the border. He could simply…. drive. And it was amazing to him. Here in America, we have privileges that most people can only dream of. Yet the fact that we have those privileges can sometimes blind us. It can blind us to the fact that other people need papers when we don’t. Here in America, no papers are required to go from Texas to Maine. I mean, why you’d want to go all the way to Maine from Texas for the heck of it is beyond me, but you can do it. We live in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. Even though things might look bad, just remember that we’re still part of one of the most amazing countries that has ever existed. No papers needed.

American Phrase Friday

Benjamin_Franklin_1767I know I’ve been missing this one a lot lately, so I’ll try and make up for it in this post. All these quotes are from Poor Richard’s Almanac, by Benjamin Franklin.

“Do good to thy friend to hold him, to thy enemy to gain him.”

“Look before, or you’ll find yourself behind. By diligence and patience the mouse bit in two the cable.”

“There are no fools so troublesome as those who have wit.”

“Three may keep a secret….if two of them are dead.”