Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The Journey to America

It's maybe a bit odd to be writing about how much I love and admire America given a) that's not how us Europeans generally roll and b) we've just learned the Federal Government is a rampant techno-squid, its peering tentacles sidling even into the phone in my pocket. Though America is very different from Europe, and those difference can provoke disdain as well as admiration, it is a country made by Europeans. The story of why people from my homeland and its neighbours chose to travel halfway across the globe is of global interest, as is the dream of a New World, better than the Old.

The reason I admire America so much is that it is founded on the idea that all people, given opportunity and freedom, can build happy, successful lives. The proof that the first Americans were true to this ideal is a constitution that guarantees this liberty and recognises that, except for in carefully defined circumstances, government must leave people alone. I think the reason America was made like that is that the first Americans were people born in a Europe where they had to do as they were told, and accept a rank in society determined by their birth, who thought 'I deserve more than that'. And who felt so with enough passion to make the journey to America. Heathrow is a joke; the Atlantic in a wooden boat is no joke.

Yet America now is not what it was. The journey to America today doesn't happen on the waves, it happens in the classroom. In that classroom children learn to do as they're told and to accept their place in an academic hierarchy, strongly correlated to the social status of their parents.

At school the New World got Old and that should trouble all citizens, regardless of where they were born.

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