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My books can be purchased as e-books for only $1.99. If interested, just click here: Books.
Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life is the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, you can find an archive list at the bottom of this page.

Tuesday, September 9

Emoticons & The American People

I seem to be blog-weary. Nothing beckons me to write about it. Not that there aren’t still any number of things to write about. I’m just weary of most of it. What more could I say about the Middle-East mess? What new insights into the immigration crisis? Weather? It’s a weird conglomeration of craziness. Technological advances? It’s all happening so fast my head spins, and when a head as old as mine spins, there’s disaster dead ahead. I just discovered an on-screen keyboard on my new computer that has a wild variety of emoticons. Now, why would I or anyone else need a bunch of emoticons at his fingertips? Has our texting shorthand led us to a place where no one has to actually say what he thinks or feels?
There, I feel devilish and angry and I think I’ll have
a dirty martini before dinner, a dinner of chicken, maybe. See, my head is spinning dangerously fast.

All right, I still have books to talk about. Last week I pulled out an old faded. green-covered book that a fellow teacher back in New York gave me a long time ago. He said it would help me better understand our country and the people that make it what it is, help me better understand our history, help me gain insight into the American lit I was teaching. Did I ever read it? No, I stuck it in my library where it remained hidden for the nearly thirty years since he gave it to me. Now I wish I’d read it when I was teaching. The American People by Henry Bamford Parkes, written in 1949. Parkes is an Englishman who felt he had a better perspective from across the Atlantic to evaluate the American people. It’s an admiring examination. In his introduction, he says, “What does it mean to be an American? What are the special characteristics of American civilization, and in what ways does it differ from the civilization of other nations? In order to answer these questions it is necessary to turn to American history. For the character of a nation, like that of an individual, is the product of its past experience and is revealed best in its actions. In this book I have attempted to explain the historical forces that molded the American character and to show how that character has been exhibited at different periods both in thought and behavior.” He sees us as a unique race of people, formed from immigrants from all races, mostly from poor or middle-class people who came here mainly from Europe, but other diverse parts of the world either willingly or unwillingly in the case of the Blacks from Africa who were brought here into slavery and the Chinese workers imported into near-slavery to help build a cross-continental railway system. We were shaped into a people with eternal optimism about the future and an ingenuity born of the need to conquer a continental wilderness. In other words, the Ugly American wasn’t just a product of the 20th century. We were boastfully ugly way back in the 18th century. The experiment in Democracy was refined here and today is a model for freedom and the good life, despite the ugliness of nearly three hundred years of slavery, continued racial bigotry, the near tragic split between North and South in the Civil War. I’m glad I finally read this book. I regret not having read it way back when it would have helped make me a better teacher. Just one of my many regrets.

There, now I’m not so weary. See, that’s me smiling in my emoticon way.

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