July 4th is coming. Time to take a quick look
back about how we got where we are.
…today’s secret…American History Part I
(Big Bang to Constitution…872words…sorry!)
Billions of years ago there was nothing but darkness…
…then the Big Bang exploded and there was suddenly a universe with millions of stars.
One of those sunny stars had a little rock planet circling it that learned how to entertain living things.
These living things started slow and over 100 million years or so the food chain winners appeared. They had working thumbs and were called human beings.
Over the next tens-of-thousands-of-years these humans came out of their caves and occupied every faraway land except Antarctica. They grouped up in hamlets, villages, towns, cities, and finally grew into civilizations, the ultimate life group.
To date there are at least 100 known civilizations. They all came, some went, and some are still here. They’re sliced and diced by size, continent, time period, oldest, greatest, or the most whatever. What ever happaned to
those Harappans anyway?
Civilizations developed at different times and speed. Some learned that words could be put on paper, wood floated to make boats, horses could be used militarily, and rocks could be pounded into hot metal to make sharp objects.
Others were slow to figure these out and paid for it in blood until they could.
Someone finally figured out how to cultivate grain and feed others. These non-farmers could then become bankers, craftsmen, merchants, artists, philosophers, soldiers, thieves, etc.
And, when they learned to farm, slavery became popular. Why farm when you can force others to do it? Slavery became common throughout the world. Greece. Rome. Egypt. China. Skin color or gender didn’t matter then.
Someone always wore the pants in the civilization. King? Pharaoh? Sultan? Emperor? Archduke? Pope? They determined who was a subject, citizen, or slave and how everyone would work and play with others. It was mostly tyranny, an elite deciding for the lessers.
So, here’s the scoop about our human history…
Glass half empty people see human history as an endless series of disasters with sporadic breaks to recoup some sanity.
Glass half full people see human history as mankind on the move with great thinkers leading the way in the arts, sciences, and philosophy.
The reality is that human history is a mixture of incredible violence with periodic advances in living for those who could stay alive.
There are three major storylines that connect civilizations throughout human history…
Religion. Civilizations have always had different opinions of where they came from, who their higher up is, and how their religion tells them to act or act out in their neighborhood.
Trade. Civilizations have always had what others wanted and lacked what others had. Can a CIV get and give at the same time?
Power. Civilizations have always killed each other for resources, land, and/or religion. Some did/do rampant conquering just because they could/can.
How these three storylines interacted with each other at different times within different civilizations is what makes our history a messy edge-of your-seat thrill ride to understand.
So, what about we Americans?
American history kicked into another gear when Marco Polo went to China. Yes, that Marco Polo.
He told the Europeans about all the Chinese goodies. Europe wanted what China had and the trade race was on to get there and back with as much as they could carry.
Later, Columbus’ brilliant trade idea wasn’t to go around Africa to get to China. No, he went West over the Atlantic to get to the East. Sadly, he didn’t know where he got to when he got there…and who were these five million Indians already there anyway?
Those European countries didn’t care Chris missed China. They trampled all over each other to get a piece of the new land. They thought they had a better way to live and were motivated to embed the three storylines, religion, trade, and power into this new narrative.
Spain went south to Mexico for quick gold. England stayed along the coast for religious reasons. France pretty much hung around Canada for beaver pelts.
For the next 150 years or so these three European countries implanted their culture, including slavery, into the new world. They fought like hell to kick the others out by any means possible, including teaming with the Indians.
France was the first to get out of town. Spain hunkered down to fight later. And the shocker was when the religious people born along the coast didn’t want to be English subjects anymore. They wanted to be their own civilization.
How brash of them!
These colonial independents declared themselves independent from mother England so they could be independent. It took a few years, about 1,000 skirmishes, and about 37,000 lives, but the underdogs finally kicked England out on their ass. At least for a while.
However, these newbies were now in a real pickle. “Whoa, what’ll we do now?”
These former colonists knew the survival of their American civilization was contingent on how they would work and play among themselves and with others.
How would they invent America from here? Who would wear the pants? And Jesus, what were they going to do with those pesky Indians and those needed slaves?
Religion? Trade? Power? Would the three storylines that had dominated mankind till now somehow be different in the new American story?