American Mythology

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “myth” as follows: “An idea or story that is believed by many people, but that is not true.”

Millions of Americans fervently inform us that America is stronger and greater if we believe that we are always the good guys, that capitalism is sacred, and that democracy still means something other than an excuse to go to war. These beliefs have become so ingrained in our national identity they have attained the power of myths, thus preventing millions of us from examining them realistically.

I would like to pose a question to the loyal readers of The Next Dimension: Do you believe the American mythology of perfection is a driving force that elevates us, or has it morphed into a rigid fable preventing us from considering the possibility that old myths might be destroying instead of enriching us?

I suggest that maybe America cannot always be the good guy in this world of greed, war and hate; that our economic system may not be so pure and perfected we can righteously force it, perhaps violently, onto the entire world; and that it is possible our political system may not be so unsullied we can forever believe in our leaders when they claim to be sending us into yet another savage war for the good of humanity, instead of for money and power.

Should not serious issues about who and what we are as a country at the very least be fruitfully debated instead of blindly accepted? If we cannot question the viability of long held images of ourselves with eyes wide-open, how will we ever be able to see who we are in reality even as we drown in the fantasy waters of mythology?

I fully understand that this essay does not provide answers to complex issues concerning how a country can become stuck in a fantasy world and how it might escape from that world. However, I believe it would be wise to question our own national myths as a way of preserving our values, not as a way of dragging us down, and that doing so would allow us to exist as the land of the genuinely free and home of the truly brave so that we might, some day, also be the land of the truth. What a mighty and humble country that would be.

Yours in peace from the next dimension.

Dale Goodvin lives in Longbranch.