Ruminations, etc..

Musings, rantings, and pie.

Hits and Myths

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Inspired by this story, I started thinking about myths and the myths we’re told as children about the founding of our country.  As Americans, we love myths.  I think it has a lot to do with a cultural affection for bigger than life personalities.  Being an American that accomplishes great things just isn’t enough.  You have to do it in the most obnoxious manner possible, like that whole John Wayne, High School Football coach thing you see in war movies. “Hold em by the nose while we kick em in the ass!” and all that other stultifying crap.

How creepy is this image...

One of the more idiotic myths is the one about George Washington and the Cherry Tree.   Every kid in America has heard this one, but I’ll recap it anyway. When George Washington was a boy, apparently in a fit of anti-arboreal rage, he cuts down a cherry tree.   When the little miscreant is confronted about it by his father, he replies, “I cannot tell a lie. I cut down the cherry tree.”  His overjoyed father tells George his honesty makes up for the act of man-on-tree violence.  George’s father then, presumably, inducts his son into the Freemasons, who end up calling all the shots in the new country.

Schoolchildren are supposed to be inspired by Georgie’s honesty.  They also learn a life’s lesson, which is to be honest at all times.  A lesson that I’m sure is reinforced whenever a child is punished for being honest about a naughty act, but I digress…

Here’s what struck me the other day: Yes, in the myth, George is an honest guy, but honesty is only one part of the equation.  What about remorse?  Doesn’t he feel bad about cutting down the tree? A tree that did nothing to him?

Sure, I’m glad he didn’t lie, but, in some cases, lying implies remorse.  I know I’ve lied in the past because I felt bad about something I’ve done (or  because I’m talking to a woman in a bar).  Here, George says, “Yeah, I cut down the tree.  Whatcho gonna do about it?”  George cut it down, essentially bragged about it, and then went on his merry way. You know who else commits acts of violence and destruction and feels no remorse about it?  Sociopaths, that’s who.  Maybe George Sr. should be a little more concerned about Georgie’s problem with empathy and less about his honesty.


Written by B. Michael Krol

August 3, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Posted in Random Detritus

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