In 1974 James Michener published an epic, historical novel, Centennial. Subsequently (1978) it was made into a twenty-hour TV “miniseries”. The book was typical Michener (over 1000 pages), taking us from prehistoric, earth forming days, up until the present.
was about Colorado, my home for (mostly) the last forty-five years. I was twenty-five when I first read it. The book represented the progressive consensus. It had a huge influence on me. In addition, it influenced much of academic American thought.
is about the “Soul of America” [= President Biden’s theme] as represented by Colorado’s history.
Michener suggests, via soliloquy, that America’s soul is the result of an inexplicable pretense “committed to loneliness”, by white European invaders. In other words we (me and my ilk) are greedy, un-empathic, imperialists. We are racists, sexists, and bigots interested only in our own survival, righteousness , and (deserved) enrichment.
Okay. There’s some truth to that. Then, I believed it! It was the nobel savage myth combined with eco-feminism. Which was the dominate pedagogy in the Seventies.
However, It’s Not True!
How do I know this? The evidence.
We are now almost 50 years beyond the predictions, and despair, of Michener and his characters.
today is thriving. The air is clean
and there is no shortage of water. Those two predictions were the essence of Michener’s thesis.
Because white European, Christians are inherently evil and out of balance with the natural world, we are all doomed.
is Colorado’s population has grown from just over to 2m in the 70’s, to just under 6m now … and the air is cleaner than ever! Moreover, there is plenty of water! The Platte River runs. Unlike the prediction in Michener’s prognosis.
In addition, there is an abundant of wildlife: eagles, wild turkeys, beavers, trout, elk, etc. and so on. In other words:
Michener Was Wrong
in many ways; but right in others.
Colorado does reflect the evolution/progress of America and the world.
Truth is: life and living is a struggle. It’s a conflict between organisms, i.e. people, animals, and plants. Moreover between the living and the dead. Inorganic things, like rocks, dirt, water, air, fire and ice and so on.
my father-in-law had a speaking part in the movie
And also – I named my son after a character in the film.
I think we (the second Americans) have not a penchant for loneliness but freedom. We are not evil but adventurers (some of us) who cannot tolerate submission. And will do whatever it takes to achieve that. Which manifests itself in the (now) accumulation of money …
And yet there was and is this: Elton John’s song Indian Sunset.
That song was taken by me as true. It informed, influenced, and impacted my life. As did Michener’s novel and subsequent film. Yet it was only partially true.
is something I’ve never experienced because I’ve always felt connected to my father and family. Sometimes. However, my freedom often comes in conflict with that.
Is that not the “soul of America”? The conflict between freedom, loneliness, and money?
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