You and the Atom Bomb (p.903)
The 1950's were an active decade for America, both internationally and domestically. To highlight some of the most significant developments: Television broadcasts stretched to all corners of America, as well as made its transcontinental debut in 1952; the Korean War began and ended; Senator Joseph McCarthy created the Red Scare; Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat; the polio vaccine was created; and Alaska and Hawaii become the 49th and 50th states. That's a pretty active decade by any stretch of the imagination, one filled with a myriad events that were very influential in defining what American means both in the short-term and the long-term.
Before the 50's, American public relations were limited to radio, Communism was spreading and America didn't have an effective way of inhibiting it, the words "Under God" were not in the Pledge of Allegiance or on any money, blacks were expected to defer to whites due to a sub-racial status, infectious polio had been spreading for nearly a century, and America didn't necessarily have a solid relationship with Hawaii or Alaska, despite using them as access hubs and military bases to reach the East. These developments spanned multiple categories; from economics to civil rights to marketing. America was substantially changing.
That may seem like such a banal observation, but think of how automatic these things were to them, and how permanent they must've felt. I realize asking others to feel is the lowest form of emotive-elicitation, however, thinking about our current social and economic status, does it not seem like they've been like this forever? And do you think the pre-50's America felt any differently about the status of their economic and civil world?
For the majority, cultural awareness is innately egotistical, because unless actively intervened upon, our perspective is framed by current state of affairs. This doesn't make us automatons, is simply means we don't create our awareness our of thin air. There is a small minority of individuals who are impervious to the social states of affair by nature, however, the majority of us--whom are not naturally knowledge-seeking or creative--adopt the current and historical paradigms of understanding knowledge and affairs. This means that it's more difficult for us--though not impossible--to override our compulsions and latent paradigms and treat our affairs 1) Like they haven't always been this way, and 2)Like they shouldn't necessarily stay this way.
The more time that passes, the more egotistical cultural transmissions compound because more generations are born. Whereas in the late sixties the compulsion of the "new America" was probably widespread but still developing, in the 21st century there is a shrinking number of people born in the time when it didn't even exist, making our compulsions so cemented that argumentation over these things can be met with blasphemic responses. As if no other way ever existed.
It's here I'm thinking of the addition of "Under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance. Americans who protest this as unconstitutional are struck down not just by legislation, but by public ridicule as well. And it happened only 60 years ago! Nearly all non-seculars are offended when a secular points out that the new wording endorses religion, and how the original document made no mention to a religion. Further, the asinine McCarthy panic is never brought up in conversation, which is odd, because that's what precipitated the added wording in the first place. Before his American-witch hunt, the Pledge of Allegiance was fine the way it was, however the sheer thought of Commies lurking in our midst gave non-seculars the clout to inch back into government via the national Pledge. In current day, kids, teens and adults are programmed to feel shame when critiquing any popular American document. It's very Nationalistic.
That's the power of the 50's; in some instances--like Rosa Parks and the addition of Hawaii and Alaska--rights were provided; and in other instances--like the McCarthy Red Scare--behaviors were unknowingly primitivized in the long-term. Both feel natural due to our perspective on cultural states of affairs, but both also display why it's important to look at our history as distinct eras of compulsions and relationships of power, rather than events leading up to our present.
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