What Comes After the Birth of a Nation? A Midlife Crisis: The Developmental Trajectory of America


It begins with a sweet enthusiasm for GI Joes and Fourth of July and culminates with a class trip to DC in Eighth grade, ending your elementary education on a high-note with glossy pamphlets and echoed halls–where very important white men have done very important work for hundreds of years. Braced with this faith in Fathers, revered as Gods, you navigate the corridors of freshman year, filled with euphoric pubescent elation that We are the greatest in the World!  There may have been shallow doubts between point A and point B, like when you learn how, once upon a time, we owned and abused each other or ignored genocide.  These patriotic dissonances quickly resolve when experiencing your small body next to a gigantic, benevolent, enthroned Lincoln.

And so, on the precipice of adolescence, that age between the blindness of youth and the bitter cynicism to follow, you are secure in the knowledge that America is a great and powerful nation, and any wrong on our part had been resolved through reparation and memorials. America, the beautiful! Meanwhile, somewhere between sophomore government class and declaring yourself an anarchist senior year, things erode drastically. Nationalistically, you come of age, just before the enchantment is forever broken. What follows is disillusionment, the death of our founding fathers, rotting in their hypocritical tombs, despair over collective trauma and defacing the green-God paper our country revolves around.  In God We Trust no longer. You have opened Thomas Jefferson’s tomb to find the truth behind America, and it is not all sparkly fireworks and neoclassical architecture. You are jaded, angry, hurt, and, finally, numb.

Maybe you go to college, or you get married, or they won’t let you get married, or you find work in a union, or you get laid off for talking to a union, and slowly you become indoctrinated. (Is this when you became meek, docile and pliant?) Some of us do; some of us will. But isn’t what we all desire that romance? The romance of our founding fathers, good, strong and noble daddies who built this country for each of us, so that each may benefit? And have we not all begun to behave a little like perpetuate teenagers; sulking and pouting about how unfair and unjust it all is? No doubt about it; it is unfair and unjust. But there is another choice beyond the pointing fingers, the playing victim, and the hopelessness. We can all grow up.

We can face the rot in Washington DC, the native bodies beneath our feet, the blood-stained money that circulates through our fingers, the bureaucracy that buries the important issues, the minorities still enslaved in our justice system, the “illegal” citizens who are silent with victim-less “crimes.” In 2016, America turned 240. And, as is evidenced by the events of the year, we’re hitting our midlife crisis, fully. Filled with regrets and nostalgia, bemoaning the gray, and searching for short-term answers to life-long questions. A midlife crisis is a crisis of identity and the only way out is through.  So with deep resolve and infinite courage, we must face what we never had, and also what we lost. We must face the promises that were made or implied; the fairy-tales fed us, the myths believed, and start over, as gracefully as possible. This doesn’t mean we abandon what we’ve built, but maybe we’re right to radically re-tinker, re-work, re-imagine so that we can entrust our children, and our system, enough to teach the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, without the narcotizing effects of trite, nationalistic brainwash.  From this disposition, we’re best positioned to face, and forge, our future.

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About Jessie Daher 1 Article
I write better than I speak.