|Between Minus and Plus Infinity - From “The Last of the Mohicans” to “The Last Great American|
Between Minus and Plus Infinity - The voices of the young.
Born and raised in communist Romania, I was fortunate enough to read at a young age, James Fenimore Cooper’s 1826 novel “The Last of the Mohicans”. Taking place in 1757, the novel depicts the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) between Great Britain and France for the control of North America. As with many early readings, this novel had a great influence on my life – even now being the starting point to this essay.
James Fenimore Cooper was the first major American novelist born in 1789, the year when the French Revolution began. In 1826 J.F. Cooper moved his family to France, trying to provide a better education for his children and to observe European ways firsthand. Here, he became friends with the French general and American Revolutionary War hero Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, the man who helped in writing the fundamental document of the French Revolution, the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen”, which was inspired from the “United States Declaration of Independence”
It is interesting how these intertwined destinies of two great men inspired the 1848 revolutions, the formation of many national countries, and in turn, shaped the history of the world. Indeed, with the American and French Revolutions, a new era began. An era that would inevitably lead to our understanding of liberty, freedom, and the American dream.
The second term from the title is inspired by the 2004 BBC documentary “Johnny Cash: The Last Great American” portraying the legendary American musician, songwriter, singer, actor, and patriot Johnny Cash. A country that gave birth to such a spirit as the “The Man in Black” cannot be anything but a great country, and the beacon of liberty towards which every oppressed and hungry child of this world to look with hope. This was America created by revolutionaries, the America that accepted the Statue of Liberty as a gift from the people of France to symbolize freedom, democracy, justice, and friendly welcome to immigrants. This was the America we all loved.
The period of approximately 250 years from the “Last Mohicans” to the “Last Great American” can be seen as a solar system year, since it is the period of the furthermost planet (now a dwarf planet) of the solar system, Pluto. As the passage of time in our life is measured by the Earth’s rotation around the Sun every year, so too may the journey of nations be measured by Pluto’s rotation around the Sun. One may then observe that countries, and maybe the governance systems, and democracies, also have evolution from infantility, to maturity and old age.
As we look at the status of democracies on both sides of the “big pond,” we can see that people all over are unhappy with their level of liberties. They feel oppressed by the same governments they elected into office, and they experience discrimination for varying reasons. Replacing one type of inequality with another is not progress, it is not liberation, and it is most certainly not our future. It is the past, it is darkness, and represents the fall. Democracies are no longer working as they should. People are not represented any longer by their peers and elections do not provide us with leaders who are able to inspire us, drive us, and lead us.
At a time when anyone can represent themselves, in a fraction of a second, in any problem of public interest using modern communication technologies, a democracy based on a system of representation built 250 years ago looks ancient and honestly nonfunctional. A “direct democracy”, as the 5th century BC Athenian democracy, envisioned also by Jean Jacques Rousseau in “The Social Contract” (1762), and by John Stuart Mill “liberty” and “freedom of speech” concepts, (expressed in his essay “On Liberty” published also in 1859), has now a better chance than ever to emerge like the democracy of the future.
Now let’s imagine a world where another J.F. Cooper will not be forced to write about war. Where, another Johnny Cash will not be forced to sing for the people “living in the hopeless, hungry side of town”, for “the sick and lonely old” or for the” hundred thousand who have died believing that we all were on their side”. Let’s picture a place that will inspire a future Lafayette to guide the world toward a new” Renaissance” for the next few hundred years. Let’s envision a world based on true equality, no difference between human beings whatsoever, direct expression of opinions without representation, no separation in any fictive classes or groups created to divide, enslave and exploit everyone throughout the centuries.
It is the time for a new paradigm, a new choice, a new society, and a new “Declaration of Independence”. Independence from what? We should become independent from our vices, from our greed, from our consumerism, and our collective sins toward the Earth. We are now almost eight billion people on Earth (way more than 250 years ago), using a lot more of the Earth’s resources, and without considering the consequences. We have depleted and destroyed our planet more in only a few hundred years than dinosaurs did in 60 million years. We are now the plague that the Earth is trying to remove.
We are in this together, and since there is no one to save us, we need to save ourselves. The only way out could be by realizing that we are interconnected. We are parts of the whole being that is the Earth. We are the children of the Earth, and the planet is not our property. Rather, we are her creation. Nurturing the soul of the Earth might be human destiny. “The pale faces are masters of the earth, and the time of the red men has not yet come again” concluded Tamenund at the end of “The Last of the Mohicans”. It looks like the “pale faces” did not do a good job after all. Their time to go may be sooner than we might think.
I could be wrong, as I’m only human, but what always makes the difference are Jesus Christ’s words “As I have loved you, so you must love one another”. What is moving the world is the vibration of the human spirit encountering other souls in searching for the deep meaning in life. We need to come collectively to a new agreement, to love each other, to love the Earth, to learn of living together without harming one another, to “walk the line” as Johnny Cash would say, or we will certainly be wiped from the face of the Earth, as it has happened before.
Ioan Cojocariu, March 2021, Vaughan, Ontario, Canada
Ioan Cojocariu, 3/5/2021