I have been trying to gain a better understanding of how we Americans have gotten to the point we are – as fucked up as it seems. I found an article that summarizes a view taken by the late historian David Potter:
The European settlers who first came to the country found forests stretching on forever, flocks of geese so large that they required 30 minutes to take off. All of this possibility drove the settlers sort of mad. They found themselves walking more in a day than they had ever imagined, dreaming dreams bigger than they had ever imagined. These immigrants, the ones who weren’t brought here in chains, turned entrepreneurial, disordered, antic, religiously zealous, morally charged, messianic, and perpetually restless. They measured their life by how much they had grown and how far they had climbed. They were propelled by a central contradiction: They had this intense spiritual drive to complete God’s plans for humanity on this continent—and they also had this fevered ambition to get really rich. They were propelled by a moral materialism that would never let them rest.
This follows several ideas that continually pop into my head: Manifest destiny and the fact that – indeed – America was founded as a Christian nation. I have, in the past, confused freedom of religion with freedom of belief.