American Identity

Big Mouths

While there are many issues with Lockian thought, the idea of self and that ideas are extremely important is one that permeates American thought. To be American means to have the freedom to think and communicate ideas with whomever you want to. Words, spoken or written, can be communicated freely. This is why we are a country that published Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, beloved literary classic, as well as, say, In Trump we Trust by Ann Coulter (yes, she is serious). Books based on all sorts of ideas are published every day, whether beautiful or wretched, enlightened or idiotic, full of love or hatred, without punishment.

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Photo credit: politicsususa.com

For this reason, I think that this is what it means to be an American. Anne Bradstreet demonstrates this in her poem “The Flesh and the Spirit.” The poem features two sisters, one named Flesh and the other Spirit. The sisters argue and Spirit is the victor.

For I have meat thou knows’t not of.
The hidden Manna I do eat;
The word of life, it is my meat.
My thoughts do yield me more content.

“The Flesh and the Spirit,” Bradstreet.

I think it’s interesting that Spirit says that her food is the word. Words are the vessel of thought, of spirit. All Spirit needs to do to survive is speak. In this sense, I think I am an American. I can say and think what I want, and the fact that we are even able to write these blog posts shows how the communication of words and ideas is an integral part of everyday American life.

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3 thoughts on “Big Mouths

  1. Your title is what hooked me, but the point you make is very interesting. I only wish I could hear more of what you have to say! Where you talk about Locke, then tie into Bradstreet made my wee heart flutter, because her line about feeding off of words really speaks to my soul (can you tell I’m an English nerd?). Yes, some of the things we say aren’t always pearls of wisdom, but that we can still utilize freedom of speech is unique to the American experience. Similarly, the often LACK of freedom of speech is also common to America, and I’d be interested to hear what your thoughts (or anyone else) are on that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Freedom of Speech is up there on the Bill of Rights alongside Freedom of Religion, Press and Assembly. There’s nothing firmer that our country is built upon. Sometimes this one about Speech drives me crazy because some people shouldn’t have born with mouths that can spew hatred and idiocy but what can I say? That’s their American, right! You can be apart of the Westboro Baptist Church or degrade all Muslims on television, that’s your right!
    To go on the previous comment, the idea of censorship then is so interesting because, again, the Westboro Baptist Church exists AND Looking for Alaska is a banned book–WILD!

    Liked by 1 person

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