Comparing The American People To Rip Van Winkle.
I believe we Americans bear a certain similarity to Rip Van Winkle in that we, metaphorically speaking, have been sleeping for the past one hundred years or so while many of our liberties have faded away.
Most of us are familiar with Washington Irving’s story of Rip Van Winkle; at least we should be, it was a story told to all school children in years past. I don’t know why, but I got to thinking the other day about this story and how Rip Van Winkle slept twenty years of his life away. I decided to revisit that story and read it again. Van Winkle lived near the Kaatskill (sic) Mountains in New York. To recap, it’s a story about a happy go lucky lackadaisical ne’er do well who fell into a twenty year sleep while the world passed him by. One day, tired of listening to his wife’s incessant nagging about his slovenly ways, he gathers up his rifle, and his trusty dog and heads for a day in the hills to shoot squirrels.
While there, he meets up with a character who tempts him with a bit of the barley corn and he falls into a deep sleep. He awakens to what he thinks is the next morning and finds his rifle is rusted and the stock is eaten by woodworms. His trusty dog is nowhere around. He is very confused and is convinced the whiskey he consumed must have addled his brain causing him to have hallucinations. Needless to say, he is very worried about facing Lady Van Ripple because of his staying out all night. Long story short, he has actually been asleep for twenty years.
He gathers up his gear and heads back down to the village. When he arrives he is surprised at all the changes he encounters. Most of the landmarks he is familiar with are no longer there. He recognizes nobody, and nobody recognizes him. He discovers he has slept through the entire American Revolution and war. He discovers his son is a chip off the old block, and learns that the nagging Mr.s Van Winkle has since passed away. He finally meets up with his grown daughter who takes him in.
Why am I relating this story about Rip Van Winkle? I’m attempting to create an allegorical picture of the situation we Americans face today. Just like Rip’s twenty year nap, I believe we Americans have been sleeping for the past one hundred years or so, not paying enough attention to what politicians have been doing to our Constitution, the greatest document for creating “people’s law” ever devised by God and man. We have been lackadaisical in our duties to safeguard the Constitution.
Lest you misunderstand me, I don’t mean to infer that Americans are lazy in their work(although I fear that many are) but just as Rip was lackadaisical in the duties of caring for his farm, I believe we Americans are very lackadaisical toward our interest in civics and the protection of our freedoms. If we’d have been doing our duty properly, we would have been retiring politicians after a couple of terms in office. Instead we’ve allowed politicians to remain in office for decades at a time. Longevity breeds corruption. Just as Thomas Jefferson said: “When a man casts a longing eye on an office, a rottenness begins in his character.”
Unfortunately , we conservatives have to shoulder some of the blame along with the Progressive liberals for our current malaise because we have not pushed back during the last hundred years following the time when we should have noticed the danger that was occurring around us. The Progressives came up with what they deemed as humanitarian projects, and we conservatives looked at each one and said: “oh that doesn’t look too dangerous, we can live with that.” We were asleep, and we didn’t push back.
Then came the entitlements; at first they were small. Again, we conservatives said,” oh they’re not so bad, we can live with those.” We were asleep, and we didn’t push back.
Then Congress began creating Departments and assigning to bureaucrats that were answerable to no one, the duties of writing the regulations. Congress also gave them power of judge, jury and executioner. By this time conservatives saw the handwriting on the wall, but, still, we didn’t push back hard enough.
There’s an old saying: “You can’t go back.” I don’t know at this point if we can go back. The entitlement mentality is so deeply ingrained in so many peoples’ minds that I’m afraid the only way we could go back would be to go through another revolution. Maybe even a literal division of the country into two separate countries. We’re practically two separate countries already because we are so divided in our ideology.
When I think about it, maybe my new novel on the subject of separation may not be so far fetched, after all. You can read more about this intriguing tale on the “Books” page a the top of this website.