Friday, February 1, 2013

The Forerunner

Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, Tim O’Brien, Salman Rushdie are four of my favorite authors. They are not necessarily American.  Vonnegut and O’Brien might even be called Anti-American, Rushdie is at best Trans-Atlantic and Douglas Adams is without a doubt British, in what he writes about and his sensibilities.  Then I realized why I thought of them as American: because America is the heir-apparent to what the United Kingdom once was.
                Though to say that America is what the United Kingdom and even just England once was, is to ignore the long history of what they had done to the world.  Even we are part of that history, kind of like a phoenix that rose from the ashes of their empire.[i]  They were once the only thing in the world.  It was a truly global empire that they say the “Sun Never Set On”, in the sense that there was always some part of the empire that was in daylight.  If America is the only global superpower right now, England once was the globe.  Why else would this language developed on an island in the North Sea with French (yeck!) influences become the dominant language in the world today?[ii]  Essentially, they had influence in so many parts of the globe, that it’s almost impossible to go some place that doesn’t have some kind of influences from this place.
                And therefore, my tribute to authors from across the pond is a show of appreciation for their past influence (and in reality, a certain amount of continued influence) on the modern world.  You can’t ignore any kind of place where any sort of thing, specifically something as important as soccer, is done at the highest level.[iii]  There are 6 billion people in the world, but the best of those at the most popular sport in the world come from all over the face of the earth to play in a country of about 50 million.  And England itself is impressive enough at the sport for a country of that size, but at a certain point they simply cannot overcome their lack of a population base.  And it’s their fault, really.  They’re the ones who spread the sport all over the globe.
                What seems to be the difference between the time when England ruled and the present, dominated more by America, is that there’s a lot more acceptance of the other countries and their cultures.  It’s a much faster-moving society, and we’re all now on a more level playing field.  And it’s not a surprise that the country that was founded and grew based mostly on immigrants and the joining of many different cultures is now the most successful in an era of a lot of equally-recognized cultures.  I think if we recognize those ways we are better than other countries and cultures, we will not only help ourselves grow, but also continue to improve the world as a whole.

[i] Phoenix, by the way, is a terrible name for a city.  Sorry about that, World.
[ii] There’s actually reasonable evidence to suggest that what is now known as a British accent is more recent than the founding of America.  Something to do with an influx of French culture into England around the time of Napoleon, which may have entered into their mode of speaking.  An interesting argument to make, as there were no recording devices to attest to this either way. The point being, we may actually be speaking in the original pronunciation of the language.  Go America, and Minnesota most of all!
[iii] America carries on this tradition, in its truest manifestation, in the game of basketball.  It is everything that soccer could never be (high scoring/small playing surface) and therefore everything it is (exciting/nuanced) and has itself become a truly global sport.