A Man Without A Country
Are We Not Earthlings?
Not long before his death, I had the opportunity to meet and have lunch with my favorite author Kurt Vonnegut. It just so happened that his last published work, “A Man Without A Country” was released on that very day.
During the course of our meal, I said to him, “Mr. Vonnegut, I obviously haven’t had the chance to read your new book, but I do understand that it involves a lot of your belief that America has gone in such a poor direction, has become so gluttonous in its consumption of resources, and is generally an embarrassment from a global point of view, that you no longer feel as if you have a country.”
I went on with a certain amount of hopeful trepidation for how my comment was going to be received. After all, I was speaking with Kurt Vonnegut…
I continued, “While I certainly agree with you in this regard, I would like to be able to say that I am a man without a country simply because I would prefer to be regarded as a citizen of the planet earth.”
Vonnegut ignored my thought completely, didn’t seem too pleased with my interpretation of his title, and immediately changed the subject. I certainly didn’t score any points with the big guy with that. So it goes…
But, I do think that many of our human troubles are based on human defined borders.
Think About It…
We all revolve around the sun together on the same planet. We are all stuck on the same rock in a universe that is far too big for anyone of us to fully comprehend. We cannot empirically answer the simplest of philosophical questions.
This should be enough to make us all realize the most common bond we share, that being that we are all in the same proverbial boat, but in our case, we have a paddle.
Humanity is indeed becoming more humane, but the pathway has not yet been linear. We still have so much more to achieve.
I would be so bold as to suggest that when we lose the zeal of patriotism for our country uber alles, when we no longer are so convinced that God is only on our side against the enemy, when we can look at anyone and everyone and realize that they are probably just as confused about things as we are, then, maybe, just maybe, we will begin to live in a better place.
You don’t have to be John Lennon to imagine…
And seriously, to Elvis Costello’s question, what indeed is so funny about peace, love and understanding?
I think it might be prudent to judge our social evolution on how well we interact with our fellow human beings socially and in trade. Interventionist military conflicts would be viewed as failure in regard to the foregoing, obviously. If we are to talk the talk, then we need to walk the walk.
But, on its present course, America is not seeking that world. America is seeking to be an empire. I find that counterproductive and ultimately doomed (as all empires are) to failure…
I would suggest that our individual and personal life experience is far more important than nationalism in the big picture of things. Let’s historically face it, America is much, much more of a philosophy than a country.
Do not think me naïve. What I am suggesting is not realistic presently. But that only makes the need for us to be thinking that way even more important.
I am a resident of planet Earth, as are we all. I have become a free man living in an un-free world.
I just happened to be born in the USA.
For those of my national tribe, I am not disrespecting our country…I am, for fact, trying to expand the principles upon which it was founded.
And I think that Mr. Vonnegut, in his writing, is largely responsible for at least planting the seed of these thoughts in my head. That is something that I will never have the resources to repay.