I was able to finish 2011 on a positive note. My dissertation is completely drafted and in the hands of my chair. Now begins those agonizing few weeks of waiting to see if my draft will be approved. My conclusion opened a few conceptual doors for me, and I’m a little nervous that my chair is going to ask me to flesh out that tiny chapter. Since we’re entering 2012, the popularly declared year of the apocalypse, the question of mythic change is becoming ever important, especially for American culture. The growing problem is a conflict between America’s nostalgic utopianism and the realization that this dream really isn’t sustainable. Whether you want to blame is conflict on capitalism, democrats, feminists, Communists (etc.) is immaterial. All groups and “-isms” are pawns in this transition.
America has been in transition easily since the end of World War Ii. While there were plenty of events in the first half of the 20th century that shook the foundations of American myth, World War II marked a major tipping point. The world was brought under a global banner for the first real time in human history, the world population grew to the highest proportions known, and war technology reached a destructive peak. It’s no accident that the Cold War years were filled with fear, paranoia, youth rallies, civil rights, and the shift from homogeneity to diversity. Nor is it any accident that as the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War officially came to an end that Americans turned those same issues into updated versions under the banner of Terrorism. As our fear is projected onto matters more and more elusive, culture becomes unstable.
So I do not believe that the world is going to end in 12 months, but something is going to have to change. My inner hippie would like to see the change come without violence, but this probably won’t happen if what the media reports is true. 2011 revealed that this transition is a global event, and this is the message of Walt DIsney’s Cold War myth: It’s a Small World. Those four words have probably already evoked the theme song and it will be stuck in your head all day. But consider this as you hum this catchy tune: It’s a Small World reminds us that we are all fundamentally the same. It’s okay to embrace cultural differences, but not to overlook humanity.