As the personification of this great country, of course I, Uncle Sam, like all my fellow Americans, want to be rich and live forever. I even believe, contra George Bush, that I will never be truly poor or truly die. I have faith in the promise of America. And I want to make clear that I really like being rich and powerful, and kind of think I deserve it. Could we all be rich and powerful? Why not? But wealth is not my number one priority.
Mainly what I care about is–duh!–my soul. Yes, even Uncle Sam has a soul, and I would rather die and be true to my ideals than live and betray them. That’s what being Uncle Sam means to me. If that last sentence sounds quaint or even if it sounds abstract or irrelevant, I would ask you to consider to what degree you’ve become a victim of these times.
Let me make clear where I stand on this whole soul thing. I am not a pacifist, and as a guy who has always driven a hard bargain, I’m not going to give away the store. As a nation, I cannot abjure the use of power and survive, yet if I don’t restrain my predatory development policies I will not prosper. That’s what makes the morality of a nation the same as the morality of a person.
From the beginning, I have defined the terms of the compact that guards me from the fatal corruption of my soul or the ruinous tainting of my honor: fight to the death for the idea of freedom, and never allow that idea to be eroded away by small acts of cowardice.
I am especially concerned about our history of extortions, assassinations, and betrayals, as well as our enslavements, invasions, subjugations, conquests, genocides, and annexations. Yes, most of these things seemed necessary at the time, and until recently. And yes, they were all actions that a majority of well-informed citizens signed on to. But the guilt and responsibility for all of my crimes is a part of me. The bad stuff will always be there, but we still have tomorrow in our hands.
Yes, our enemies killed a whole lot of innocent civilians a few years ago, and that proved what we had forgotten, which is that we are vulnerable, and also taught us something new, which is that certain recently developed ideas and technologies mean that the field of war can be carried anywhere, to anyone, at any time.
I know what my pals Washington and Jefferson would have said. “It can be shewn with Authority that the chief Purpose of these, our Near Eastern Enemies at War, is above all to shake the Confidence of the Citizenry in the Principles of this Republic. To curtail our Freedoms in response to these base and cowardly Attacks upon mere Innocents would be to grant these Terroristes nothing less than the Victory for which they strive.” Or something like that.
We’re going to take some hits. But the original ideal of freedom, the freedome that created our Amerika, is “Don’t Tread On Me.” They are willing to die; are we? If not, then what is worth dying for? In my short 218 years, I’ve sacrificed 10 million of my sons to freedom. The real threat is not about whether or not more people are going to die. Of course they will, probably. But we are at a cross-roads, where we have to decide whether being America is about having it easy, or if it is about something else. When I was young, a few hundred years ago, I wouldn’t have had to explain this to people, but we’ve gotten fat and lazy.
We need to rise up, and wake up, and saddle up! I want YOU!