Imagine a young girl, maybe 20 years of age, who has been courted by an older man for a long time. He spoiled her with flattery and gifts and she felt on top of the world. Her parents were no where to be found, and the young girl came to depend wholly on the older man for her sustenance and for her sense of selfhood. She never hesitated to do his bidding, and she enjoyed the feeling of power and agency that it gave her. But her older lover was often absent and didn’t tell her where he was going or what he was doing. As she grew a little older and her beauty began to wane, and her lover’s affections cooled, she began to question the man’s actions and his intentions, and she began to wonder about herself – whether she had any life or identity independent of her keeper. She looked back on the years she had been by his side and started to perceive – as through a glass, darkly – that she had been deceived and abused and, to her deep embarassment, that she had welcomed it, not knowing any better. Now she is dazed and struggling to find her way before the walls close in.
This is one of many images that comes to mind when I consider the tragic situation of my country, the United States of America. Most of us have no understanding of the role we’ve played in the world.