The Myth of Innocence

David Price
4 min readDec 1, 2020
Painting by Maxfield Parrish

“The myth of innocence and violence is a dominant theme of the culture of the United States, innocence and violence and the constant movement back and forth between the two….

So we have an increasing volume of violence in the culture, no one can understand why, everyone gives sociological explanations of it, and they are all valid by the way, the poverty and the oppression and the racism and the decline of education, the sociological reasons are absolutely valid, I’m not decrying them, but there’s a myth also in here.

We came to America, the Pilgrims and the Puritans and all the rest because it was a new paradise, we came with innocence in mind, the innocence of the lamb, these are mythical motifs, and our movements were full of violence, the earth of the United States is filled with the blood of what we killed in order to make it our paradise, the buffalo blood, the tribal blood, the animal bloods, the bloods of the African American slaves, that’s what’s in the soil. And other peoples are very aware of what’s in the soil, but innocence keeps us from even looking at it, until very recently, we begin to look at it. Those of you who went to school in my generation, or at least lets say ten years less.. the story of the Indians was something you saw on TV.. you played Cowboys and Indians, ‘the only good Indian is a dead Indian’, and you know, it was built in, they were just irrelevant. That’s our ground, that’s our soil, and in the Greek perspective what’s in the soil is constantly working at you, constantly affecting you. They would call it “Blood Guilt.” — James Hillman

Leaving America, I was an innocent abroad for many years. I had been planted in Texas but my real growing up happened in Europe. It proved to be impossible to return to my original culture. I tried and failed more than once. My roots in my family of origin became more and more tenuous.

I was embarrassed to be treated like the clueless monolingual American that I was in my twenties, but I’m glad I was able to get the inevitable culture shock out of the way early. If you wait to leave the country until you’re retired, it’s probably too late. Your “innocence” is baked in. America seems to have an impenetrable bubble over it that prevents real news from entering. We’re very proud of our free exchange of ideas so we don’t see the range of things that…

--

--

David Price

I write about creativity, loving, language learning and psycho/spirituality. I’m a longtime painter and reader.