Essays on América
Translated from the Greek.
Hello Lufboro. I pulled up your blog site at the request of Hermes, and decided to contact you. I wish I had written earlier, but it was only a few months ago that Aphrodite got this old Aether-net computer for me. I have been fascinated by your country and your century. I understand that in your democracy or republic (whatever), free health care, housing and money for food or other expenses are provided to the invalid, or poor, or criminal. I am sure I would qualify under two categories, and would like further information.
I also understand that I might obtain similar benefits through a tax-and-promise scheme (“FICA”) which we might call an Odysseus Ponzi; and that certain of your mortal gods (Retired Politicians) receive those benefits, plus a continuous supply of gold, even though they may have been thrown from your Mount Olympus (read Federal and State Legislatures) after only a few years of “service.” Or Self service. However, the employment based Ponzi scheme imposed on the average citizen is not attractive. It requires some work, and a heavy tax. So, given the option, I prefer not to work. (I’m eons old but not yet stupid.) Therefore, in considering joining you there, I would like to know more. Could you please address the following questions by return email:
1) Is your country really on the other side of River Ocean? That would be off the disk of the world! On Olympus the immortals have been too busy messing up our neighbors and humans to keep up with the rest of the earth. Not even Hermes knows how to get to your place. Please send a map.
2) People there have too many languages. Couldn’t you use only Greek?
3) When Eos (Dawn) fell in love with me I was young. She convinced Zeus to grant me immortality, but forgot I would become ever older forever. Here I am now more than 2,400 years old, and I look and feel it. I read that your immortal gods, Technos and Money, may soon make all your people immortal, but terribly old too. My concern, of course, is how you can provide for us all since I too am immortal.
4) It is clear from the internet that some people in USA are above the law. Can I be granted that status as an immortal demigod, or are those privileges limited to foreign dignitaries, the government, the wealthy, and the illegal?
5) I can no longer get about, and rosy-fingered Eos tired of me 23 centuries ago, when she realized I would age forever. Since then she keeps me in a locked room. How are the rooms where you keep your old people locked up?
Minnesota is in the middle of fly-over-country, yet people there seem to feel it is home, and maybe the best of all possible worlds. Indeed, there is a level of cultural attributes that are enviable. In part that may be attributable to the long, cold winters, which tend to force individuals and society to turn inward, physically and intellectually. The “Twin Cities” are home to world-renowned institutions in business, the arts, and education, and the region ranks high in surveys that measure quality of living.
Minnesotans like to go their own way. In politics, for example, consider the fast-talking Senator Hubert Horatio Humphrey, the inimitable wrestler-Governor Jesse Ventura and the late radical left Senator Paul Wellstone. As I write, a heavily Democrat legislature is drafting a bill that a Republican Governor plans to sign, allowing any citizen to carry a handgun after passing a security review and a gun handling course. They seem perilously close to balancing a budget.
A journey up the Mississippi River ends in the North Woods of Minnesota where lush birch and evergreens are washed and lashed by summer lightning and thunder-laden rain, and there are said to be 10,000 lakes carved by ice age glaciers. The 2,500-mile-long river’s impatient brown waters seem unperturbed by thousands of buildings, businesses, and towns along the way ever northward from the Gulf of Mexico.
Among these is the University of Minnesota. My last day in Medical School there was in June 1954, but graduation was a year later after internship, due to fast track intensive training begun during WWII. Our 1955 class gathered in May to remember, to mark and remark on our years, and to wonder together again what and who we are. At the least, we are very diverse in age though time makes that disparity less significant. When we started out, world-wise WWII veterans had competed with brash and nerdy youths fo admission to medical school. Only a tiny percent of applicants were admitted. I was one of the babies, graduating from med school at 21. Pre-med had been cutthroat, but in medicine itself I recall little friction or conflict in a personal or professional sense; perhaps we were too busy to fret over such things, too aware of the realities of war and the frailty of life.
It was, I think, a time when many people were needy but needed little to feel whole; we hadn’t the luxury to dwell on what we lacked. The “U” has expanded in every direction: burrowing down into the earth, bridging roads, rising into the air, across an outraged Mississippi, into surrounding homes, and reaching around the globe, all evidence of growing national wealth and power. Every aspect of medicine has changed, as have those who graduated 50 years ago. Only the river is the same. I went to visit after 50 years.