No matter how old I get I hope I never grow too old to enjoy cartoons. Watching some childhood favorites again through Youtube, I see them today with new eyes, as exhibits of something I absorbed but never understood, when first observing them at a younger age.
The Hollywood theatrical cartoon of the forties and fifties is so delightfully, unapologetically, indelibly American. The best of them reflect the best of American civilization: its capacity for keeping faith, its belief in re-invention... both cultural tenets joining as one, in the form of the Happy Ending. (In the above example, a pragmatic Happy Ending, making it all the more quintessentially American: where else is it so ingrained to take lemons and turn them into lemonade..?)
A further American trait I see on display in many of the old cartoons, going hand in hand with the ideal of re-invention, are their many examples of forgiveness. Old enemies putting aside deeply-held grievances in order to rally and address a new and greater problem, exhibiting the rare self-discipline of not holding a grudge.
Growing out from the ability to keep faith in oneself, benefiting from the belief in the Second Chance formula of “try, try again”, comes the true arena for success: a forum that preserves the freedom to fail, so that by trial and error you may learn what you are best suited to become. We are not born to follow in our parents' footsteps unless that ends up being the choice we select for ourselves.
Put them all together and what do you get?
In God We Trust (the most self-renewing source of self-confidence), e pluribus unum [“from the many, one”] (the recipe for moving on from old grudges arising out of old relationships, looking to see what may be shared in common as well as where there may be differences), and Liberty (the freedom to fail while searching for the best version of ourselves to become): the three stages of the American Trinity, as described on American coinage... and older American cartoons.
For how much longer will this Trinity prevail, with anti-theism on the march, with old grudges increasingly unforgiven, with ever increasing suffocation of Liberty, the fragile laboratory so necessary for innovation and self-discovery?
These besieged older values desperately need to be re-animated with a fresh breath of new life, a new will to forestall a final fade-to-black on the last best hope on Earth.
I imagine we will find a way to win, in the end; it's a dream I picked up from watching a lot of old cartoons...
[With thanks to Dennis Prager]