A mere century after the anthem-like sonnet “America the Beautiful” was published for the very first time, America’s grand splendor and life-giving liberty is now lethally littered with signs of a destiny relegated to ruination.
On July 4, 1895, Katharine Lee Bates’ now historic poem turned song, America the Beautiful, was published in the weekly journal, the Congregationalist. Spacious skies, amber waves of grain, fruited plains, and purple mountain majesties etched-out a picturesque and endorphin-invoking scenic and tranquil narrative of the vast marvels to imbibe in the land she crowned, “thy good with brotherhood.” Ms. Bates, a Wellesley College professor, aptly described much of the natural splendor splashed across our land “from sea to shining sea”, but idealistically and innocently failed to forecast how greed and imperialism would turn America into a “sinister sister” and ignore Bates’ call for “liberty in law.”
Barely a century after Bates would climb Pikes Peak in Colorado and pen her now immortalized words; “America the beautiful” has lost much of her luster. Spacious skies are now obscured by enormous, sky-scraping edifices that cast immense, gloomy, and looming shadows over much of today’s landscape. Amber waves of grain are nearly gone and replaced by the sprawls of an ever-encroaching suburbia crusading forth with an insatiable craving for more materialism. The fruited plains eternally damaged by the ravages of anthropogenic induced global warming – irrefutably caused by the indiscriminate burning of fossil fuels – have begun to wither, bear less produce or have simply gone barren.
Yet, this dismal and unsettling damage to our land and skies –that has occurred in the past century since America the Beautiful was composed – fails to annul an even more ominous peril most Americans unwittingly face – the fall of our republic. Our “liberty and law”, that once governed a great and free nation, has been maliciously molested, oppressed, and shackled by an “ill-selected” executive run amuck. Incarcerated by a provincial-minded, bellicose, and fool-hearty man, America is nearing dictatorship and the end of an egalitarian society. Endless war, death, bloodshed, and repression – without a shred of rationale or reason beyond grandiose perversions of power – have locked America in an entropic spiral of disorderly decay towards dystopia.
Courageously, yet perhaps naively, some Americans fought back in vain this past fall to alter the maniacal mayhem of a madman and his minions whose collective aim is to douse out the light of liberty and sabotage our rule of law. Now, disheartened and feeling betrayed by the new, Democratic-lead Congress, many citizens now sense helplessness to stop the eminent deterioration of our country by the malignancy that resides in and about the Whitehouse. Sadly, many have resigned themselves to subjugation and the acceptance of the demise of a truly democratic government of the people.
Sure, we will still go on having staged elections, just as Rome did for many years after the Republic of Rome fell. When Roman senators, such as Cicero, prattled on and continued to debate meaningless and unenforceable laws or agendas under the recently solidified Roman dictatorship of the time. All of it was purely symbolic to lend to the prevarication and impropriety of a still functioning government instead of the grim, bona fide reign of totalitarian law by Caesar. Not until 476 A.D., when Emperor Augustus was at last deposed – the throne left permanently vacant – did Roman tyranny finally end.
Current contemporary discourse suggests that Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton will triangulate their way to a Democratic victory in 2008, promising the phoenix-like resurrection of America from the scorched ashes left behind by the Bush Administration. Then, upon taking the oath of office, only will they continue the selling of America out the backdoor to the Chinese, the industrial/military complex, and the proto-fascist corporate giants of our time. The mock appearance of reform will be embellished by a few bones for real Americans to crunch on. Perhaps they will offer some form of thinly veiled "universal health care" or a promise to remove combat troops from war-torn Iraq. Only to leave Blackwater, Halliburton, and their horde of hundreds of thousands of privatized mercenaries to carry on the nefarious deeds of the profits of mechanized war and commercial, hegemonic globalization.
In the midst of our democracy being swept into the abyss of autocracy, is the breakdown of our entire planet’s ecosystem. This atmospheric collapse, compliments of American-driven unfettered capitalism, feverishly fuels global warming and the swell of an all-out climate crisis. The world, but Americans in particular, are simply too lazy and complacent – amid all of our modern amenities – to take genuine action to arrest the harmful effects of dumping billions of tons of carbon into the environment each year. Our fatalistic arrogance and ignorance – conceivably even self-righteousness on this issue – are both supremely mind-numbing and immensely nauseating.
Oblivious, Americans still hastily hustle about their self-entwined business as the flora and the fauna fade, freedom withers and turns to fascism, and democracy deviates into despotism for dollars. God may have “shed his grace on thee” in 1895, but we, by proxy of our own foibles and follies in the 21st Century, have discarded decency and discretion and traded “purple mountain majesties” for a mountain of carnage and disarray. America, perchance, is no longer so beautiful after all.