02 June 2015

Stranger in a Strange Land

I've been struggling for nearly 40 years to explain my experience when I got out of the Navy, a couple years after the end of the Viet Nam war. I didn't recognize the attitudes of the people I'd known only four years before, and felt like a visitor in a foreign land. But I could never really explain it to anyone else, nor even to myself.

Now I can. I recently re-read Alan Caruba's blog post on the topic, and was struck by this passage:

In a recent Wall Street Journal column, Peggy Noonan took note of the present “American unease” saying the reasons for it were in some ways “deeper and more pervasive” than concerns of the current financial crisis. “Some are cultural. Here are only two,” she wrote. “Pretty much everyone over 50 in America feels on some level like a refugee. That’s because they were born in one place—the old America—and live now in another.”  [Emphasis added - Ed.]

More than a 100 million Americans are over 50, a third of the nation’s population. Noonan said, “They hear a new culture out of the radio, the TV, the billboard, the movie, the talk show. It is so violent, so sexualized, so politicized, so rough. They miss the old America they were born into, 50 to 70 years ago.”

Indeed. And the cultural divide is now so wide that I fear we cannot and will not find common ground. A number of writers have recently started to speak of the inevitability of a bloody civil war in this country, in the near future. I find that I'm beginning to agree, as agonizingly painful as the idea is.

My faith and trust is in God, and in Him I will stand fast. But however the natural world goes, I fear it will not end well for the United States. There's a reason why the U.S. isn't mentioned in the 'end times' passages in the Bible.

May God have mercy on us.


Vicki said...

In a few days I will mark 69 years on this earth. The America where I grew up exists no longer. On one hand I am extremely saddened by the fact that my grandchildren won't know the joy of living in a free land. And on the other, I am sort of glad to hear that I'm not alone. For the longest time I thought it was just me, getting older and grumpier. It's not. We are in serious trouble here.

Rev. Paul said...

Agreed, Vicki. My wife & I have often discussed how sad it is that our daughters will never know the freedom we enjoyed even 40 years ago. And they've already been deprived of the carefree childhoods we knew, farther back.

Happy birthday, by the way. :)

Ed Bonderenka said...

There is a Detroit in my mind.
I went there as a child.
Rode a bus.
Walked it's streets.
Took an elevator in buildings that now exist only in my mind.

Rev. Paul said...

I think we're on the same page here, Ed. But it's more than just buildings and places that no longer exist; it's attitudes and expectations no longer in sync.

Old NFO said...

I think you're right... And I'm not looking forward to it.

Chickenmom said...

Sadly, it's not like every older generation says the same thing as " I remember when...". The heart and soul of 'our' America has changed. And we let it happen because we just couldn't actually believe it could. We all know what is on the horizon.

Rev. Paul said...

Agreed, NFO. It won't be good, if it comes to that.

Chickenmom, that's a good point. We sowed the wind, and then fell asleep while the whirlwind formed.

Anonymous said...

I dislike it when you write this way.
But, I will stand with you.


Rev. Paul said...

I don't like what I see, either, Guffaw, but you're welcome in my compound. :)

Sandy said...


My Dad returning home from Vietnam felt the same way you did when you got out of the Navy. He didn't recognize the attitudes of people he knew prior and those he didn't before returning from Vietnam In fact, his crew were harassed, treated badly, and physically abused when returning home from Vietnam. Our country was divided back then when dealing with war (another story totally).

It saddens me to say our America won't ever be the same because those born 50 to 70 years ago won't be around. The priorities in life have changed. Instead of leaning toward country, faith, helping others, and family. It's leaning toward greed, selfishness, an uncaring society which prefers to be entitled.

Rev. Paul said...

Sandy, that says it as well as anything I've seen. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Darn it Rev. Paul, you keep sucking me in :)

I have to agree with you. I don't want to think in defeatist terms, but I think we have to.

I reflect back to a recent editorial by Pam Geller (yes, I know she evokes strong opinions, please bear with me). Paraphrasing: She discussed an old Gene Kelly movie on television, and how she wanted her kids to watch with her. It portrayed a sense of optimism, grace, and class that seems lost to time. Kids declined, saying "yeah mom, but that was back from when America was happy".

From the mouths of babes...

Something else I read recently has become a touchstone: "There is no path forward for the United States. But America will live on".

I can't lose this thought. Conflict and division may be unavoidable. But in the fallout, can people realize just what a precious gift was had, then lost (some of those people not already living within our borders)? Can enough people realize that the USA was not just some happy accident and might not always be around? That it was not a place so much as it was a mindset behind a culture that enabled people to live up to their best potential? Could it be rebuilt with lessons learned?

To that end, I'm thinking of collecting as much printed material as I can that describes our founding principles, and the thinking that accompanied those principles. Starting with the Federalist Papers, then deTocqueville, and go from there. I may not be around to do anything with them, but then again, maybe I will. Who knows? Maybe I'm being foolish, but I'm not giving up on our Grand Experiment. Not just yet.


Rev. Paul said...

airphoria, you really ought to give some thought to blogging, again. :)

My thoughts are that you're on the right track: anything and everything we can do to talk about why America was so revolutionary (see what I did there?) and new, and what made her great, would be well worth the effort.

Remember the quote about a tireless, irate minority ... and keep on keepin' on.

Murphy's Law said...

Agreed. This is simply not my America anymore. And with the rise of the current crop of spoiled brat kids, "gimmedats" who proudly live on the dole and the influx of millions of illegals who do not share or even care for this country's traditional values, I fear that it will never be that America again.

I pray that our country be restored, and failing that, I pray that it hold together for one more decade, at least until I can retire and establish myself somewhere remote and defensible.

Keads said...

It saddens me that my Father says he is glad he will not have to watch this much longer. This is not going to go well I fear.

drjim said...

It's not my America anymore, either.

I think it started changing in the late 80's early 90's when the "Greed Is Good" mentality arose, and "too big to fail" was being born.

No, it's not going to end well. We'll either have a Civil War with totalitarianism being clamped firmly in place, or another World War that really catches us napping when it starts.

threecollie said...

Back when America was happy....from a comment above. So true. So powerful. So tragic to experience the decline of this great nation. Hope we don't also experience its fall.

Rev. Paul said...

ML, that sounds much like discussions my wife & I have had.

Kelly, I hope we're both wrong.

Jim, I wouldn't be surprised if the latter eventuality happens first.

threecollie, me too.