I'm waking up, I cannot see
that there's not much left of me
Whenever I take up a newspaper,
I seem to see Ghosts gliding between the lines.
There must be Ghosts all the country over,
as thick as the sand of the sea....
We are, one and all, so pitifully afraid of the light
--Ghosts, Henrik Ibsen
We say the world has moved on;
maybe we really mean that it has begun to dry up
--The Dark Tower, Stephen King
We’re Americans. To be critical in time of war?
Even the democrats are smart enough
to keep their mouth shut on this
--Boston Legal, Witches of Mass Destruction
Where does hope begin and pessimism disappear? It's a fine line, but for Ranger, pessimism is the order of the day.
Where are we as a nation, and is it even appropriate to call our polyglot population a society? What is our national identity?
Historically, multi-cultural national entities dissolved, breaking into smaller, ethnically-identified groups. The Roman, Holy Roman Empire, French, Napoleonic, Ottoman, Hapsburg, Austro-Hungarian, Czarist Russian, Soviet Union are examples. The nations of Europe are currently struggling with the concepts of human rights and dignity, while eschewing immigrant populations.
How will Europe and the U.S. absorb immigrants while maintaining a national identity? Germany's Chancellor Merkel spoke for many recently:
"Speaking to a meeting of young members of her Christian Democratic Union party, Merkel said the idea of people from different cultural backgrounds living happily 'side by side' did not work.
"She said the onus was on immigrants to do more to integrate into German society.""This [multicultural] approach has failed, utterly failed" (Germany's multiculturalism has "Utterly failed").
Immigrants are and should be welcome, but there is also an expectation that that they integrate and elevate themselves to the values of Western society. It is reasonable that host societies dictate the terms by which these people are accepted as citizens.
The expectation has always been that the language and customs of the host nation be assimilated by the new citizens. In addition to rising to the best levels of the new society, the immigrant can and should add their own positive value to their adopted homes.
The strife host nations like the U.S. feel arises from the fact that so many of our jobs are being exported and lost. Globalization is killing our industry and negatively impacting our trade balance. While it is not they who outsourced our jobs, that combined with a high unemployment rate for our citizens make hard for many to see the good in integrating 20 million + illegals.
Democracy cannot thrive when we have so many unemployed and so many more losing their tenuous grip on a middle class existence as the dire economic situation grinds on. Assets and resources trump philosophy at such times. As in the Gunslinger series, the world has moved on, yet we remain the same, losing ground daily to those powers fast on our tail.
So we distract ourselves with something we can do well -- firing weapons that go "boom", and preening our machismo. But how can the U.S. successfully fight wars to impose a de-centered concept of democracy? Coming from a crisis mode, the U.S. foolishly (cavalierly?) tries to deliver the democracy slipping through our fingers into the clenched fists of reluctant and unwilling societies.
Here's the pessimism: How can we believe that globalization is an absolute good for us when the facts indicate otherwise? Our high and recalcitrant unemployment rate is the result of removing trade barriers -- the U.S cannot compete with Chinese or Third World peasant-captive workers.
Housing, banking and the economy more than shaky, Our infrastructure is crumbling, yet the wars are the one thing pressing on, unwaveringly. Our national identity is out of focus, yet the ship of state founders on, seemingly rudderless.
Are we becoming a ghost ship?