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"TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION"

How Low Can We Go?


I don't have cable television. I have an HD antennae, so I get to binge watch a lot of television shows from the sixties and seventies. My latest obsession is Gunsmoke a show that I never ever watched during it's 20 year prime time run.

As a twentysomething man, I had absolutely no interest in Westerns unless it was a cultural parody like F Troop or Kung Fu. Classic Westerns were just too offensive to my political sensibilities. I watch them now because I'm interested in the historical perspective that Westerns convey. Western's reveal a great deal about the true character of the pioneers.

The unintended message in portrayals of early American life reveals that most European immigrants were pretty low down and did just about anything to anybody in their quest for their manifest destiny! Mass extinctions of indigenous populations, indentured servitude of children, and slavery of black Afrikans were common occurrences right up until the 20th century. To date, there has never been a national expression of remorse financially or politically to the aforementioned peoples.

The early 1990's was first time I really paid attention to the pathos of Westerns. I watched the 1993 version of the movie Tombstone on cable television. More recently, I purchased the complete DVD series of Kung Fu and watched it religiously from the first installment to the anti climatic end. In the current age of HDTV, local stations have lots of sub-channels, I watch reruns of The Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy and Zorro. The consistent message: we been low down for a very long time!

In almost every episode of every western serial, the lone good guy is threatened with assassination, false imprisonment, coercion or bribery by just about everyone he encounters for tryin to do the right thing. Bad guys and ambitious women were in an abundance.

It's really appalling to watch all of the lying, stealing and murder. The settlement of the Americas was essentially a hostile takeover. There was no nobility in the confiscation of a land that was populated by aboriginals that only took what they needed from the land. What we were taught in American history is mainly bullshit!

Native Americans - who generously shared their land and resources - are always portrayed as relentless savages unless they're selling out other Native Americans. I've yet to see a portrayal of aboriginal Americans that accurately conveys their struggle. None of the books that reveal the atrocities inflicted upon Native Americans have been adapted into feature films.

And then there were Mexicans. They were either, great sidekicks that could entertain the entire camp and cook good, or pathological banditos that killed everything that breathed or cowardly farmers with good knife skills and really fine daughters. But always second class citizens.

To be fair, I've seen the same type of treachery in series like Robin Hood about Europeans or martial arts movies from Asia or Afrikan docudramas like Shaka Zulu. I'm sure that the portrayals are not 100% historically accurate but there is enough character studies to get a feel for how we competitively operate in every culture.

The Afrikan films that I've watched since college have more bad guys than good guys too. And were it not for a handful of Afrikans imbued with the light of Christianity, all Afrika would be doomed to pagan savagery.

From America to Europe to Asia to Afrika, even the most casual observer must come to the conclusion that people are pretty low down by nature!

I know enough about human nature to understand that we are animals with the same primordial instincts as every other predator on the planet. What bothers me most is that we've been at the top of the food chain long enough to be secure in our position.

In the 21st century, we have the ability to be more benevolent to each other, other species and our resilient planet. Our behavior to one another and to the planet seem to be in a state of devolution. And based on man's history, our behavior towards one another is unlikely to improve!

I know from personal experience that it's pretty easy to resist being low down. If we don't clean up our act soon, we'll be like Mars - a dried up dust bowl - in a few centuries!

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