"The painful truth that Americans were so frantically fleeing was that history had at last caught up with them. It was no longer 'something unpleasant that happens to other people,' for it was happening to them too in their own part of the world. Neither their fabulous wealth nor their unequaled power, their superb technology nor their legendary 'know-how,' nor all these endowments combined assured them of success in solving their most pressing problems. On both the foreign front and the domestic front they had at last encountered problems that defied solutions of the traditional short-term sort and mocked their religion of optimism." -- C. Vann Woodward's The Burden of Southern History.


Woodward wrote of the surprise and shock that people went through when "something unpleasant that happens to other people," happened to the Americans--them. Being wealthier and more powerful, nobody expected anything to go wrong in this country of America. But it always has and always will, even in this time now.

In Woodward's time (1960), America was still developing. Technology, weapons--anything to make us more money and gain more power over the other countries of the war. It was (and still is) always American that did this or that to others; like a bully to the rest. The people of America were all accomplices. This caused us to become full of ourselves, high in the mind, and fooled that nothing like what happens to others could happen to us. America was wrong to think that. In Woodward's time, there was sickness and disease and their technology couldn't stop that. So they developed cures over time, yet we still have incurable ailments today.

America got overconfident, to say the least, and disasters, bombings, sicknesses were just eye-openers. It showed the people of America that though we may be safer than the people of other countries due to our wealth and power, we are far from invincible. "On both the foreign front and the domestic front they had at last encountered problems that defied solutions of the traditional short-term sort and mocked their religion of optimism." As quoted from Woodward himself, his words rang true. America was and is going down and it is all thanks to its overconfidence.

Currently, it today's times, America is facing problems that started in Woodward's times. There is unnecessary war, inevitable recessions, still incurable diseases and sicknesses, terrorism--which was a big shock to us all, since we used to be the ones doing the terrorizing--and so much more. People are suffereing. And they are suffering because they were unprepared. They brought this on themselves. Wealth and power cannot stop everything all the time. Even considering, those are even some of the causes of America's all-around downfall. Maybe the terrorists were right to bomb, as tragic and horrifying as that sounds. Maybe we needed someone to finally say "enough."

America, whether in Woodward's time or now, still needs an eye-opener. People are being blinded by their false senses of safety and security, surrounded by their country's position and their current luck. Luck runs out eventually. "Neither their fabulous wealth nor their unequaled power, their superb technology nor their legendary 'know-how'...assured them of success in solving their most pressing problems," stated Woodward. He meant that no amount of power or wealth in America can solve its problems, unless the people start seeing and thinking clearer.


Short essay done for English Language and Composition AP (advanced placement) class. I got a 4 out of 9. A 50%. Think this is fair? I thought I did pretty good. Tell me your thoughts!