We all are imbued with tales of Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the "Indies" which turned out to be the American continents. We've heard the tales of subsequent ships that came from afar bringing people to colonize his finds. We know that some of these ships overshot his coordinates and landed to the north of their destinations.
Some of the Native Americans, then referred to as Indians, welcomed the ships while others wanted to slit throats and peel scalps in their rage. Our first Thanksgiving was the result of natives and Pilgrims declaring a truce and sharing a "potluck" dinner.
We remember the tales of the Boston Tea Party so well that all of us sometimes wish we could hold another today. We even have a group of people -- no doubt an embarrassment to the original raiders -- who invoke the Tea Party term for their own bizarre political schemes.
Some of the greatest minds of our history worked together to form a Bill of Rights, a Constitution and our country. Against the advice of the Father of Our Country, they even formed political parties.
Eventually -- well, fairly soon, actually -- the Caucasians and "Indians" began to intermarry. This includes a set of my ancestors a few generations later. Their offspring no doubt grieved and resented being called half-breeds, a term now renamed and worn with pride. We call it "biracial" today.
A lot of descendants of these half-breeds probably wish their ancestors had intermarried a few generations later, because if they could prove themselves to be one-quarter Native American, they would be recipients of all kinds of financial advantages.
Some attention was paid to separation of state and federal rights at the beginning. At the time the Constitution was formed, it was okay, at least in some states, to own slaves. But women and slaves (even males) were not considered men and therefore not citizens of these United States. Now slaves, on the one hand, must have been higher in the food chain than white women. Their owners could count them as three fifths of a person, but for representation and taxation only. That was better than the no vote status of women who served as the resident scapegoat (since the time of Eve) and as one psychologist once worded it, a receptacle for men's sperm. Oh yeah, they also bore and birthed their children.
When the Union beat the Confederates, the states rights issues had reached a crescendo. One state didn't want another -- or a collection of states -- telling them what to do. As slavery ceased, Caucasian women moved from their role of supervising passive-aggressive workers to the role of house cleaner. White men began to have to plant their own cotton instead of riding around on horseback supervising the work. The world began to make a major change.
It wasn't long before man's focus had to switch to war. We have World Wars I & II. We experienced the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, The First Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan collectively. And many Americans still can't get enough of it. Many higher ranking Americans still want us in the middle of Egypt, Ukraine, Syria -- and possibly some day in Iran, China and North Korea -- again. Oh, yes, and the Muslims want their flag flying over the White House so they can tell us what to do also. Watching them with our liberated women would be a hoot.
Another thing about Americans is their love of revolutions. Not just freedom revolutions, but the industrial kind as well. Or even someone else's war will do.
At one time, when notice of land and potential riches on the North American Continent was broadcast far and wide, we had sane and reasonable immigration policies. It was controlled by numbers. There was a stopover place where people could be checked for communicable diseases. There was a place where people could declare their destinations and who would be on the continent to help them get settled.
Nowadays, people arrive by the plane load, many on visitor and student visas, and fade into the heartland never to be noticed again -- unless they commit crimes or cause illness. Others ride here on the tops of trains. They should be stopped at the border but apparently they are not. Our newly hired border patrol guards pilot speedy crafts past rafts full of people and point them out -- see there are some of them now. But do they stop and send them back? Heck no, they don't even break their speed. Buses full of them breach both sides of the border and nobody makes them turn around until after they have reached our cities and become our financial burden, our logistics problem.
As predicted by President George Washington, the Spirit of Party is baneful. The parties can't work together to accomplish much. Heck, the parties can't even work together within themselves. Apparently, at least per one expert, there's a problem with John Boehner holding the gavel but Ted Cruz, a bi-racial individual, holding the power. And why don't I see Hispanic individuals as Caucasian, you ask? Because a Mexican man, working hard to put me in my place, once told me he didn't like white people.
So, what have we, the people, actually accomplished in all these hundreds of years of practice? Not very much!
We still quarrel over the meaning of "a right to bear arms." I wonder what those early Americans would have done for weapons when they heard the words "the British are coming," if they had not had their own.
We haven't lost the foreigners of all ilk who rush to take what belongs to the present citizens. And that includes the influx of British and Canadian journalists who usurp the jobs of New Yorkers who were born and reared here.
If anything, the quarrels over state's rights versus federal controls have gotten even noisier.
The wish for freedom from the British crown has changed to the wish for freedom from irrelevant laws at all levels of government. I give you light bulb wattage and high definition television laws as examples. But then, Congress might have had to do something useful without these.
Americans gave up British taxes on tea for our current situation? Let's see how many taxes I can remember in a brief session. City and state sales tax, personal property, tags tax, driver's license, a tax to use a debit card to pay your taxes, real estate taxes, city taxes and county taxes on utility bills, trash removal tax, Payment in lieu of taxes (yes, we actually have this one), city earnings taxes, state and federal income taxes, boat taxes, taxes on phone lines. I'm sure I've left out many, including some quite crucial ones. Hence, we have the Tea Party. But the problem with most of them is that their only ideas revolve around not liking taxes. They seem to think the roads and bridges pay for their own construction. They don't believe they should raise taxes even to pay the loans we've already contracted. Well, maybe they see defaulting on our debts as the American way. I certainly hope not.
The immigration crisis of today was not such a problem in the beginnings of our country. There was plenty of land. Even if the "Indians" minded the Caucasians taking it, there was always the horrible war solution. Let's see, let me get my six guns. There seemed no end to the vast natural resources. People could grow their own vegetables in the back yard and hunt and fish for their meat. Women knew how to can foods and make quilts out of fabric scraps. Now we have so many people, we have to live stacked one on top of another with concrete walks instead of land. We experience water shortages that sometimes go beyond a current drought. And our ecology worriers moan both about a future low supply of fuel at the same time they moan when we dirty the planet by using it now.
Men had a lot of power in their own domain and didn't have to resort to politics to get their fill of pushing others around. Women and servants knew their "proper place". It didn't cost more annually to get your house cleaned than your government paid your teachers. And let's not even think about the cost of landscaped lawns.
It didn't cost very much to educate people then, either. Women and slaves hadn't gotten so uppity they expected to read and write.
The bottom line is we are still quarreling over issues of black and white because we can't seem to get it right to their exact but every changing specifications.
Women still have to fight for their basic rights. We still go to war at the drop of a hat -- we just prefer to do it on another turf.
We don't like others micromanaging our lives -- interfering in our individual human rights, so to speak. We still have others who want to come and take away our stuff -- our jobs, our money, our space, our natural resources.
The only difference is that now our leaders can't find it within themselves to work together to formulate anything. Glad this bunch wasn't here to do the Constitution.
About the only thing it seems to me we've gotten right is changing the vernacular from half-breed to biracial. Maybe there is hope for us after all. Unless, of course, they decide to change their labels again.