Jack Worthington's Social & Investment Commentaries

Make America Great Again? Pilgrim’s Progress

Posted in Investment & Social Commentaries by Jack Worthington on October 23, 2016

Make America Great Again?

 

In 2000, when former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was asked her opinion of “the most important human event of the past 2,000 years?” she replied “When a group of Englishmen rebelled against their country and formed the United States of America.”.  Whoa. Just stop and think about that for a minute.

 

America was founded and run through most of its history by people who are vastly different than today’s Americans.  In fact, I’d venture to guess that a large majority of our previous generations would oppose the current generation as strongly as the US opposed the former Soviet Union.  I’d say most multi-generational Americans know that for fact based on personal experience.

 

Obama was somewhat correct when he said “You didn’t build that!”.  Even on a personal level, our present was created by our past.  We stand on the shoulders of previous generations.  The current generation creates the future.  Future generations will stand on our shoulders.

 

By any reasonable standard, America has certainly achieved historical greatness…yes, an absolutely exceptional country…by the actions of past generations, not the present one.  Future historians will judge and name the present one based on the outcome of our stewardship.

 

Since it’s obvious to all that “we” are far different from “them”, who, specifically, were the people that created the foundation for America’s historical “greatness”?  Who were these rebellious Englishmen Margaret Thatcher referred to?  What are some common threads amongst the 11-12 generations of people living in this place from founding until the generation prior to ours?

 

A good place to start:  What were your grandparents like?  Great grandparents?  How are we different?

 

Underneath the cacophony / multitude of distracting cultural differences that come to mind, one important thread seems violently severed…a belief in the God of the Bible and Jesus…and all that it entails…profoundly impactful in so many ways.  In my own experience, although the separation is clear in the US, I’ve never lived in a place where the line was more vivid than Prague, Czech Republic…striking.

 

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Pilgrim’s Progress

 

Most current Americans have probably never read Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (1678).  According to experts, it’s been the most widely read book in the history of the English language outside the Bible.  It’s been in continuous publication since 1678, and translated into more than 200 languages.  This book had a massive influence on 11 or so generations of Americans.  According to The Guardian, “There’s no book in English, apart from the Bible, to equal Bunyan’s masterpiece for the range of its readership, or its influence on writers as diverse as William Thackeray, Charlotte Bronte, Mark Twain, CS Lewis, John Steinbeck and even Enid Blyton.”.

 

If we want to better understand why our world is spinning out of control, why the call to “Make America Great Again” could be futile, and what the real equation for making America great again truly is, then a read of Pilgrim’s Progress is a good place to start…and remember, previous generations of American’s (and Europeans) were deeply influenced, if not guided, by what you’re reading.  Just imagine the difference in outcome between people following Pilgrim’s Progress vs. one with those who aren’t…striking.

 

JW

NY, NY

23 Oct 2016

 

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