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Jun./Jul. '02 Articles:

Cruelty Under
the Big Top!

for Sale

Notes from the Cultural Wasteland

The Muddlemarch: 1

The Muddlemarch: 2

Another Oil War?

The Last Taboo

Lone Star Nation?

The K Chronicles

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America: The Lone Star Nation?

by Adam Finley
art/Marty Kelley

I've come to the conclusion that living in the United States is like living in a gigantic terrarium; one so large that its inhabitants are unaware of any other habitats that exist outside the structure. Similarly, Texas is like a terrarium within this terrarium.

I was intimate with Texas for a few years, having dated a gal from San Antonio, and having spent a summer in Dallas as a magazine intern. It's a lovely state with a colorful citizenry and a wild mixture of vast nothingness and bustling cityscapes. I wouldn't call it a microcosm of the United States, but it is able to occupy a vast number of individuals with different social and political ideologies. But then again, so does every other state.

The most prominent similarity between Texas and the United States is that neither of them seem able to comprehend there is a world that exists beyond their borders.

Maybe that's just an outsider's envy sparked by a state with an almost militant sense of self-pride. There's nothing wrong with being proud of where you came from, but Texans have a fierce swagger about them that sometimes results in a kind of myopia, making you wonder if schools across Texas simply have "Texas" listed as the third planet.

I'm not here to insult Texas, because every other state as a whole suffers from this same kind of near-sightedness, a condition that became even more evident after September 11th. The truth is, a majority of this country's citizens have always been benighted as far as what's happening in other countries. I'm not only talking about countries with extremists plotting to destroy us, since that kind of alertness is just part of human nature. A 1998 Ford Mustang doesn't interest me much, but a 1998 Ford Mustang that's about to run me over certainly does.

September 11th was a wake up call, but take a few steps back through the last few decades and ask yourself just how much you really know about other countries--not just their current political climates, but their history. There are a lot of benefits of your country being a superpower, but one thing that isn't so beneficial is that you can become swallowed up in it, making you less a world citizen and more of an ignorant spectator. For me, the most enlightening moments in college didn't come from the classroom, but from speaking to students from other countries. While there was some indignation over our obliviousness, there was also a fair amount of understanding. One Irish exchange student pointed out that an hour-long news program in the United States could cover nothing but news from within the country, leaving little or no time leftover for world news. To him, our sheer immensity made this forgivable. We had enough happening within.

I'm not especially keen on other countries looking upon us like we're children in a special education class, an entire nation of poor bastards who simply don't know any better. Sure, I have my share of patriotism, but when it blinds you to huge events that the rest of the world is fully aware of, it may be time for a reassessment of the situation. We didn't know people were plotting to fly planes into the World Trade Center, but to say that event made us stand up and take notice is to solidify the fact that we're a solipsistic nation that ignores what's happening in other parts of the world until it directly affects us.

Having said all of this, I think it's safe to say that Texas is ripe for an invasion. Like the United States, Texas has its share of astute citizens, but the majority of its people seem unaware that anything exists beyond the state line. If a cattle shortage ever occurs I'm sure Texas will be the first state to be taken over by one of those smaller, less significant states. In fact, I'd advise everyone to become vegans right now, because there may be a storm on the horizon, and it just might make the state of Texas stand up and take notice.

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Other articles by Adam Finley: