How old is America?
13 September, 2012
How old is America?

Somebody might think I am kidding – how come a grown man like me and the one who has spent twenty years of his life in the States would have no clew of the age of the greatest country in the world. The blessed year of 1776 – that’s when America was born – and I certainly know that much! On another count, the question ‘How old is America?’ could be slightly disconcerting and even irrelevant.

 

Throwing in a random comparison,

how would you answer a question ‘How old is jazz?’ Shall we start counting the age of jazz from when its giants had started performing? Then jazz is quite young. But if we go deeper down into the roots of this amazing musical genre, jazz may turn out to be as old as the hills. Same with America! For inquiring into America’s age, I would rather use an interrogative phrase like ‘How young is America?’ and the exacting answer will follow – two hundred and thirty six. And technically, that must be correct. In blatant actuality though, America is as old as the good old Europe with its famously shining human ideals, its Renaissance, its Enlightenment, its Reformation and its Romanticism. It is so funny — and this is a purely European habit, held up by the rest of the world — to stigmatize America as a young political culture which looks like an infant, compared to a wised white-haired grumpy ailing Europe. There is no imaginable America without the universally venerated ancient European culture, the wisest of which had made an attempt and succeeded in staging the biggest social, economic and political experiment in the history of mankind. Man has gone through enumerable vicissitudes on the verge of life and death until it hammered out the human ideals that are still burning to give the world the light it needs. America is the result of putting in practice those ideals although through many pains, blood and chagrin. America cannot be younger than Europe – it only is a result of geographic migration of the old ideals in question. And the world is so small! If America is using in any possible way the ancient Greek and Roman means in administering the country, then it is as old as Greece and Rome. If America has in any way made use of the English common law in building its own system of jurisdiction, then it is as old as the United Kingdom. What difference it makes when America had started physically in time and space? What matters is what material America has used to build itself and how old those components are. I have never looked at the United States from this focal point – it has just occurred to me, although something similar is resounding in my mind, reverberating a couple of sporadic statements and opinions on the subject. Even if there is a fundamental work dedicated to the theme and unknown to me, I still insist that my grassroots level of judgment on America’s age could be acceptable, to put it mildly, if not made it the subject of decisive discussion at all. I am just trying to put an end to frivolous talk about young and inexperienced America who should know and behave better. Enough is enough. Can we finally get hang of it? Take a grip, folks!

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