Sunday, December 18, 2005

Where Am I?

The US is not like much of the rest of theworld: France has always been France, and England has been England for many centuries, and Russia defined itself during the reign of Ivan the Terrible as Russia in contrast to the Tartars and Europe. Chinese history is, supposedly, the longest continual history of any people in the world, but the US is based on an abstraction--a certain set of ideas that divide up and share out power so that it does not become concentrated in the hands of a single tyrannical entity, either party or person. We are expected to participate as citizens in our government at the local, state, and national level, and our government has been expected, from the beginning, to be a shared enterprise, not an engine of power and wealth for a single oligarchic group. Our government was devised as a set of ideas about how to avoid kings, aristocracies, and tyrannies. If it fails at that, or is manipulated into producing tyranny, then we are no longer living in the US, we are living in a no man’s land, without an actual identity. ~ Jane Smiley

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