Essential American Wisdom

How Things Work For People who Don’t Read, or Won’t Read

America has come to a crossroads and the outcome all depends on whether the majority, who for all those years didn’t read, and now won’t except in 240-character couplets, clean up their acts.

I’ve told the story before about an old fellow, Moses Sands, who wanted me to write a book “to ordinary Americans” about how America was designed to work, because, in his words, we were “about to lose it” unless we did an about-face. Like a lot of people in their late 60’s (I never knew how old he was) and partly because of what he’d seen going on in the enslaved half of the world, the Communist Bloc, he knew we were losing ground fast. And he knew his allotted time to tell people about it was limited. Especially since he wasn’t a writer. He was a fixer.

That was 1998, and I replied, “So you want me to write a book for people who don’t read?” Moses moved on to the high pastures in 2006 and that book was never written. Well almost, for I took good notes.

And that was a full generation ago, when GenX’ers had mostly graduated from college, and their children, Millennials, were just entering college.

You can’t understand the pickle our country is in unless you can understand the role “the law of generations” has played on us ever since Madison Avenue discovered that  “Generation matters” in the 1920s, largely because of the rise of accessibility of the general public to film and popular music. They were the ones who first named my generation “Baby Boomers” because there was such a baby boom when the soldiers came home from the World War II. (Millions.)

American culture changed because of the power of advertising to kids who couldn’t actually afford to buy the product. When I was a kid in the ’50s, people from socials scientists to preachers were already speculating about the power of television to sell kids products, from sugar-coated cereals (that would rot their teeth out) to 45-rpm records, and Elvis and the Beatles (that would curve their spines), while Mom and Dad paid the freight.

I heard all that when I was younger, and laughed it, thinking it was harmless, but by the time my two Gen X-sons were in high school in the 80s, I began to review my own life growing up; the fashions, the fads (duck tails), movies and TV, from Marlon Brando in 1953 to the Fonz in 1977):


And in the passing of generations I noticed that something was being lost with each step; important things such as any real knowledge of family history, what I call the “shoulders we stand on”. This is why respecting our elders was such a key element of the American family. And then there was also the “other shoulders we stand on”, such as the soldiers from World War II, the Civil War, all the way back to the Revolution, for they were all fighting for a different thing, but also the same thing, America. That too was passed onto me, by my grandfather, my dad, and also my schools, although in a different way. My dad didn’t like to talk about the war, so I burned up the school library reading books about the war, and in those days our library was filled with books about WWII and Korea written especially for young teens. (Look up Landmark Books on eBay.)

My sons’ school library had no such section, World War II only a distant memory, and even the American Revolution was hard to find for young readers. So I put my boys on a reading schedule at home, then found out in my own reading that home-schooling had been a common practice in America going back to the late 19th Century. It was the most important part of passing “America” onto the next generation.

Then, by the time my boys graduated from college, 1992 and 1996, I had had my first jolt of reality in Russia, and witnessed how the state had intentionally erased the peoples’ history before 1917 as their first step toward re-shaping the people’s reality. Those people eventually threw Communism down, but the Laws of Nature left the people hardly free, and for 30 years now they have been wandering around without any real map to guide them. Very sad.

There are some mighty fine people there, but one of my favorite Christian philosophers, (a Frenchman even) by the name of Blaise Pascal wrote (and I paraphrase); there are those who are found, and those who are seeking to be found, but tragically there are also those who are lost, only do not know they are lost, so are not even seeking to be found.

Today, we not only don’t read as a way to analyze where we are standing, but we won’t.

Much of America has reached a point where we don’t even know that we’re lost. Or why. Still, like those poor Russians, who for an entire generation after World War II knew exactly what it was they hated, just a you know what you hate today about the same enemies now entrenched in America, had no idea how to go about paving a new road out. All they could do was wreck the old system. So instead of freedom, communism in Russia was replaced by a modern-day version of fascism, which is little more than gangsterism.

Americans today know what they hate, but most of you, for I see you on Twitter, have no idea about the basic essentials of 1) the shoulders you stand on, 2) how things actually worked in a working free democracy, and 3) how the Laws of Nature work, just as they did in Russia, to guarantee failure if you don’t really know how all the pieces are supposed to fit.

Your grandparents did.


This is just an opening chapter, a preview, about things I’ll be talking about as long as I can stay healthy

To begin with you need to retrain your mind in the habit of reading…especially about how things used to work in those years that produced the Greatest Generation of World War II, who arose out of the Great Depression. I remember one old fellow, an electrician, who told me the first piece of white bread he’d ever seen was “throwed off the back of a CCC truck in Appalachia.”

On my site, knowing when I’m going to give a sermon, sometimes a teaching, other times a preaching, will be easy, for I will always use one of three logos:



You can’t regain what you’ve lost if you don’t really know what you had in the first place. So you have to read.

And if you’re patient you can even learn to read long essays by some really smart people, scholars like Thomas Sowell. You’ll quickly see that some very fine teachers are out here who are deep into the grander scheme of things, going all the way to the Greeks (who were often wrong about things American), but still speak in the language of the regular American. You can always tell when someone is trying to appeal to only a select group of people. Faculty-club talk. Obama was that sort. Sadly, so were some pretty good writers at National Review after Buckley died, who jumped up and peed all over his grave as soon as Donald Trump showed up.

In that vein, a friend of mine, a blind Appalachian named David Poff, has just written a very good book Unwashed Philosophy, A Users Guide for our Imperfect Union,  and is currently in the process of trying to get it published. One of his central themes is how God’s original Covenant with Abraham, trekked through Egypt and Moses for several hundred years before ending back in Judea where Jesus was raised, and then, when the Good News went out, after another 1600 years, it ended on the shores of Virginia, and was a major cornerstone in the foundation of America….making us unique as the only nation in the history of the world that was created from the bottom up, by the very same sort of people Jesus exclusively preached to, instead of those high muckety-mucks of the ruling class.

It all started there.

This is stuff you probably never thought of, and would never know unless you read, because no one is ever going to tell that story on Facebook or Twitter or not even Bongino’s podcast. Only the likes of Billy Graham could wrap this story up into a 30-minute sermon.


This is the edge of the cliff where America now stands, a three-generation slide, back-to-back-to-back, beginning with my own, where the simple task of passing from one generation to the next the basic principles of survival as a free people and turned into a trickle.

I’m at the front end of My Generation, so we have 10-15 years to do our part to reach down and resuscitate the tired soul of America, and massage some of the muscles that have grown unused.

Since 2015 Donald Trump did much to give oxygen to the fire Barack Obama lit in 2009 when he accidentally resurrected the Tea Party. Since I don’t know what plans The Donald has for a second term, or for the creation of an Era, much like the Founders, 1787-1824, (37 years) I’ll be doing this “How Things Work” and “Natural Law” series, and you’ll know them just by the icon art of the titles.

Stay tuned.

Vassar Bushmills

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