Early America and Western Civilization in Historical Perspective ⋆ Politicrossing
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Early America and Western Civilization in Historical Perspective

Feel-good “history” embellishes the accomplishments of select groups while misconveying actual history.

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Archeologists find that since the dawn of civilization, no society has fully grasped what is necessary to live in harmony with its environment and for its people to live in peace with one another. In the last 10,000 years of civilization, for example, remarkably little has changed in the way in which people treat their surroundings.

The Myth of Noble Societies

Before human occupation, forests, not deserts and barren plain, covered the uplands of Arizona and New Mexico. 700 years before Columbus’ arrival in the Western Hemisphere, the mighty Mayan civilization, with a population of 200,000 in what is now Mexico and Central America, fell into ruin following human-caused depletion of the rain forests, heavy soil erosion, and internal warfare.

Misinformation about how societies developed and how their people lived often leads to erroneous conclusions about how present-day society ought to be managed. Let me explain. In my book Breathing Space: Living & Working at a Comfortable Pace in a Sped-Up Society, I discuss five “mega-realities” that simultaneously compete for one’s time and attention.

The second of these mega-reality, an expanding volume of knowledge, plays a vital role in our understanding of earlier societies. A proliferation of information invariably leads to a proliferation of misinformation. Accordingly, what we understand to be historical realities are often distortions of the truth.

The Rise of Misinformation

Predictably, the volume of contradictory information and the associated discrepancies it spawns is rising. Annually, well over 40,000 scientific journals publish more than a million new articles. “The number of scientific articles and journals published worldwide is starting to confuse researchers, overwhelm the quality-control systems of science, encourage fraud, and distort the dissemination of important findings,” says New York Times science journalist William J. Broad. Misinformation has become a major impediment to social progress.

In these “politically correct” times, in the area of social history in particular, too often pseudo-historians dispense misinformation in the form of “feel-good history,” a term referred to by noted professor and distinguished historian Dr. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., in his award-winning book, The Disuniting of America. Feel-good history is “history” designed to accent or embellish the accomplishments or nature of select groups for purposes other than conveying what historical records objectively reveal. Such accounts cloud the accuracy of historical accounts, presenting events in ways that might not be real or complete depictions of what took place.

American history, as a case in point, has become one of the most maligned of the historical disciplines. To be sure, the U.S. government reneged on treaties and, sometimes inadvertently, sometimes not,  destroyed cultures. Nonetheless, do misinformed or overzealous teachers and leftist professors have the right to overturn decades of research and analysis in their efforts to present “the untold, untaught side of American history?” Are they justified in making wholly unfounded assertions about the origins, nature, and achievements of ethnic groups that they represent or who they feel have been slighted by “Eurocentric” versions of history?

Common Mistaken Beliefs

Consider common beliefs about Native American populations. Evidence is mounting that Europeans pre-dated them in North America, but that is the subject of a different article. Many people today believe that the arrival of Europeans from 1492 was co-terminus with the introduction of disease to native populations. The Europeans did bring with them new diseases, such as smallpox, which proved to be more deadly to North American peoples than it was to Europeans, but by no means were Native Americans free of disease beforehand.

Karl Reinhard, Ph.D., a prominent pathologist, observed that “Native Americans had already accumulated quite a spectrum of parasitic diseases before the Europeans arrived. Take the Incas. We’re looking at no less than three species of lice, not to mention different varieties of fleas, tapeworms, hookworms, the works.”

Actually, all told, American civilization, with all its strengths and weakness, was as good and decent a society under Donald Trump as it likely had ever been. Many Americans, however, believe that Native American cultures historically were superior in interacting with one another and in maintaining a harmonious balance with the environment. However, this view is naive at best and classically demonstrative of the perils of misinformation.

Masters of the Environment?

Dr. William K. Tabb, one of my economics professors in college, remarked to our class that economics in essence was the “allocation of scarce resources.” Only when a society has to manage limited resources is it an “economic” society. Let’s apply this to the case at hand. Some Native American nations starved during harsh winters. Some could not care for all their members.

On a continent as large as North America, most of the Native American nations were blessed with vast stretches of land, in some cases more than they could use. In that sense they were not “economic” societies. In comparison to today, natural resources were plentiful. Because they did not live in economic societies, it is hard to determine to what degree many Native American nations practiced sound environmental policy.

It is known that vast sections of the southwestern United States, for example, were completely decimated by over-cutting. Dr. Charles Redman, an anthropologist at Arizona State University, says, “The idea of the primordial paradise, that pre-European societies were somehow great environmentalists, is romantic history.”

The cliff-dwellers, with their elaborate wooden structures, may have sealed the ecological fate of their region for all the centuries that have followed. In the Eastern U.S., the Cherokee removed such large swaths of forest along riverbanks  — not coincidentally, some of the areas now most carefully protected by environmental legislation — that Europeans entering some areas thought there were no trees.

Illness and injury were treated with natural remedies, many of which worked and are still viable solutions for health problems today. It would be unwise, however, to surmise that all Native American nations at all times were populated by wise dispensers of health information that uniformly fortified their people. For acute illnesses, major injury, and rare disorders, most nations could do little for the afflicted and, if they attempted to do anything, would do more harm than good.

Operations were crude. Medical hygiene was all but unknown. Many “treatments” hastened the death of the patient rather than alleviating the condition.

Human Rights or Tribal Mythology?

Many contemporary Americans maintain the notion that Native American nations were exemplary in their homage to human rights. This issue cannot be summarily concluded. Some groups were effective in upholding human rights; some were not. Many people within nations paid homage to human and individual rights; many people did not.

In some  nations, elders were cast out of the tribe to die on their own once it was believed that their final days were near. Some nations, and many individuals within many nations, were intolerant of homosexual behavior or other sexual and personal orientations that deviated from the norm.

Many nations maintained rituals and customs that forced individuals into predetermined roles independent of their individual aspirations or aptitudes. As cited previously, some nations maintained elaborate rituals and rites of passage whereby young men were summarily cast into battle. Or, young men had to fight and kill a wild animal, perhaps with nothing more than a knife or a spear. They then would have to return with the animal’s vital organs to prove their “manhood.”

Nowhere Near Paradise

In many nations, everyone was expected to pull his own weight-not necessarily a bad idea, as societies go-but what fate befell those who proved to be less physically endowed?

Some nations permitted polygamy, whereby one man was permitted many wives, usually with no say on the part of the maidens thrust into service.

Still, many Native Americans loved the earth, lived in harmony with it, and lived in harmony with each other. Their poetry and chants often reveal the kinship they felt with the earth. Let us avoid the trap, however, of sanctifying those who were here before us because some of them, in some respects, embodied environmentally and socially redeeming virtues needed today.

Let’s not paint in our minds and post in our literature exalted, vague notions of environmentally and morally superior peoples whose ageless wisdom is somehow quintessential to our survival today.

Every Group Qualifies

The lesser-known side of Native American history is one example of how history can be skewed to reflect a certain set of ideas. There are, of course, other examples throughout world history. It is important that we draw what we can from the knowledge of such cultures and be respectful of their heritage.

Let’s forsake the counterproductive mythology that seeks to rewrite history to match the flawed ideology of a few. Instead, let’s learn what we can from the actual lessons and experiences of history, and use that knowledge to improve as a society.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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What America Do You Want?

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What have we done to the shared values that made America great? Do you shake your head as you listen to the nightly news or the latest Biden gaffe or executive order? Yes, it has been amazing to watch Americans come together to help their neighbors in the face of Hurricane Ian, but hurricanes have an end to their destruction. Between now and November, we must remind Americans of the disaster we face if we do not elect candidates who will put a stop to the Biden Administration’s destructive policies and priorities. America’s future depends upon it.

We know that every improvement is the result of change, but we are now learning a very painful lesson—not every change is in improvement! Biden’s America hardly resembles the country our Founding Fathers envisioned. Fake news abounds, unchecked by mainstream media. Dissent is silenced or, even worse, labeled hate speech. The value of work, personal responsibility, and perseverance are replaced with honoring victimhood, fueling racism, and encouraging dependence.

We might heed the words of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 5:20) when he warned: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” The prophet could say the same thing about Biden’s America today!

We are becoming the fake news capital of the world. Speaking to Democratic governors recently, President Joe Biden compared Italy’s new and conservative prime minister Giorgia Meloni to Chinese dictator Xi Jinping. Meloni campaigned on God, pride in country, and defense of family values to win the election. Even the direct rival she defeated, ex Italian PM Matteo Renzi, defended her: “Personally I was against Giorgia Meloni, I’m not her best friend. We are rivals, but she is not a danger to democracy. The idea there is a risk of fascism in Italy is absolutely fake news.” Biden’s reckless diplomatic statements are dangerous and irresponsible. America has and must expect more from her presidents.

When most Americans are concerned about their own safety and the rise of crime in their communities, Biden’s Washington remains focused on a never-ending investigation into the “January 6th Insurrection.” The Democrats seem to feel it is the worst travesty to hit America since 9/11. While many who participated in the “insurrection” remain in jail, Democrats are still calling for police budget cuts, an end to bail, fewer prosecutions, and early release for true criminals. To prevent criminals from being homeless after serving time, President Biden has even promised housing for 100% of those who have done criminal crimes. At the same time, his administration has done little or nothing to improve housing for veterans, seniors living on fixed incomes, or working Americans on the verge of losing their homes in the face of the inflation-driven increases in the cost of living.

Instead of challenging and encouraging all Americans to earn their own American Dream, today’s Democrats are arguing for a guaranteed income for all Americans, In America, we promise the freedom to work in pursuit of one’s own happiness. Now, Democrats want to provide a guaranteed income whether you earn it or not. Why work when you can be dependent on your tax-paying neighbors?

Americans wonder why there is inadequate housing, but Washington seems to ensure that building and owning rental property doesn’t pay. When government mandates rent moratoriums, property owners are left holding the bag. Owners must still pay their mortgages and maintenance expenses while renters get a free ride and can’t even be evicted. Why would anyone want to own rental property in today’s America? Want more housing, let capitalism work.

And just what has happened to our guaranteed freedom of speech? If you dare say that you are a MAGA voter who still believes there was rampant fraud in the 2020 election, you must be shamed into silence as an obvious domestic enemy worthy of scorn. In today’s America, the Left can say anything they want about Trump or conservatives and still post away on social media, but even mention election fraud or tyranny from the left, and your freedom of expression goes away. “Hate speech” rules are one-sided and a true threat to our freedom of speech.

Democrats try to tell us that the Southern border is secure, and they rail against conservative border governors sending even a few illegal immigrants to Democrat-controlled cities like Washington, Chicago, and New York. They claim they are “sanctuary cities” ready to protect illegal immigrants. But when put to the test, they plead for National Guard troops and for President Biden to do something! He has been doing something; he has been sending illegals by the bus loads to red states for well over a year. We do not have a secure border, and even Democratic mayors in border cities know something needs to be done. President Biden, it is time to finish the wall and secure our border. It’s time to elect candidates who will demand just that.

If this is the America you want, vote Democrat. If not, embrace the GOP’s Commitment to America and get ready to take back the future of this great country. Yes, it is time to Make America Great Again!

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America Needs a Reboot

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There is a sign outside of Needville Feed that reads: “Has anyone tried unplugging the United States and plugging it back in?” Let the painful laughter ensue! It’s confession time. How many times have you been unable to figure things out on your computer and just decided to start over by rebooting in hopes of a new beginning. Sure, no one wants to lose the current good work, so you save what you can and hope for the best.

But America does need a reboot? Something is not right with America today. Some are working to get the 34 states needed to convene a National Constitutional Convention. Others are clamoring for term limits for all politicians. Unfortunately, every radical answer unleashes radical fears that such plans could create more problems than viable solutions. We seem stuck in stupid!

They want clean energy with wind and solar while they work to shut down natural gas and nuclear energy, two clean energy sources. Due to our clean energy efforts, our coal and oil resources are cleanest in the world. But they want to buy oil from questionable countries while limiting production here. Does it make sense to move from energy independence to energy dependence before we have proven clean energy alternatives that can supply the energy we need? Of course not! We’re stuck on stupid. Time to reboot expanded energy options to reclaim energy independence!

How can you have true freedom of speech and not occasionally offend someone along the way? The answer to hateful or offensive speech, is more speech and thicker skin. People throw around the term “snowflakes” for people who want freedom for themselves but can’t handle that freedom for those who would attack their own views. Freedom is messy. Freedom is loud. Let people say what they want and experience the consequences for their comments. If you offend enough people, don’t expect to win many votes or popularity polls! It’s time to reboot freedom of speech for all!

I always thought that government was established to protect their citizens from enemies and from criminals. Why are people buying guns? Citizens want weapons to protect themselves. They are seeing far too many criminals let go without being prosecuted or punished. Government wants to take guns away from citizens, and everyone knows that criminals will keep theirs! In America today, crime seems to pay pretty well for the growing number of flash mobs, carjackers, and rioters taking what they want! Few big city DAs are doing their jobs. If you riot in the streets, rob small businesses, and attack bystanders, you should go to jail and serve time! We’re stuck on stupid! It’s time to unplug and reboot America’s law and order program!

Immigration has made America a better country, a melting pot of people who value freedom and the opportunity to earn their own dream. But people playing by the rules to immigrate to America keep waiting and never get the welcome illegal aliens receive by just crashing our Southern borders. By not having a secure border, we are advertising for more illegals to come. The Biden administration will provide transportation, let you have benefits, and work to get you housing and an eventual path to citizenship. Why immigrate legally, when doing so illegally works so well? Time to reboot. Time to finish the wall and secure our Southern border!

Martin Luther King, Jr. paid the price and rallied the country around a dream that one’s character would mean more than the color of a one’s skin. And yet today, calls for racism are encouraged. To many, you’re celebrated for saying that all whites are racist. Many blacks call for special reparations for the racism of a distant past. There is one sure result of such calls for special racial treatment-renewed racism! Reverend King would have surely affirmed that “All God’s children matter!” Under democratic leadership, America is backsliding into more racial animus. It’s time for a reboot. It’s time to reaffirm that “All men are created equal” is a value and a promise worth fighting for.

Personal responsibility for one’s choices is a critical American value. If you commit a crime, you do the time. You borrow money for something you want, you pay your debt. President Biden executive order to “forgive” student debt is not “free.” That debt isn’t “canceled;” it’s transferred to every tax-paying American. Many of those taxpayers have already worked and sacrificed to pay off their own student debt. This is not only stupid; it is an assault on basic fairness and a blatant attempt to buy votes. Reboot required! Reinstall personal responsibility programming!

In a recent interview on Jesse Watters’ Fox News show, Victor Davis Hanson of the Hoover Institution confronted the extreme actions of the left in transforming America. They are attacking and overthrowing America’s time-tested values.

To Hanson, the left is governing exactly the way they accuse the right of acting: “I mean, nobody on the right said let’s junk the 233-year-old Electoral College; [the] 180-year-old filibuster; the 150-year-old, nine-person Supreme Court. Nobody [on the right] said let’s bring in two more states and end the idea for 60 years of a 50-state union.”

It’s only left that has no problem stalling protection for right-leaning Supreme Court Justices facing demonstrations outside their homes. It’s the left that wants to radically federalize the voting laws to ensure that 70 percent of the votes would not be cast on Election Day. It’s the left that has radically weaponized the IRS with excessive increases in personnel and funding. The left calls January 6th an insurrection, but as Hanson notes: “Remember in 2021 when they had barbed wire and 30,000 troops in Washington, D.C. in the greatest weaponization since the Civil War?” Do you remember?

When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in government entitlement programs that take from your neighbor to give you the things you ought to be forced to earn for yourself. It’s time to unplug this radical administration before it is too late. In November, it’s time to reboot by booting out the politicians who have played so loosely with America’s time-tested recipe for freedom and opportunity. It’s time to send the left home!

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