I can remember a time that this image was everywhere; on patches, posters, stickers, graffiti.
It’s hard now to remember a time when war without end was considered an aberration, a time before a daily body count was just part of the background noise, like crickets in the country.
We went to see John Conlee sing last week, and it was a very good concert– at the age of 71 his voice is as strong and clear as it was forty years ago– but there was a strange interlude in the middle.
For some reason he quit singing songs and went into a sermon in support of the troops. He put a 5-gallon bucket at the center of the stage, and invited the audience to contribute to a veteran’s charity he had taken a shine to. One at a time grim-faced men and women, their eyes glaring and focused, strutted, their bodies lurching from side to side with each step, to the front to add their money to the pile. Several shook his hand.
Their intensity was unsettling.
The lady next to me noticed that I wasn’t cheering and applauding, and made a point of shouting and clapping even louder. She was clearly trying to make a point without actually confronting me.
I don’t think it’s healthy for a society to be as militarized as we have become.
I don’t see this ending well.
Things Republicans believe:
- Poor people have too much
- Rich people do not have enough
- Peace comes from the barrel of a gun
- God loves us the best
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.” ~Noam Chomsky
Not just in politics, but in most fields there are possibilities that are immediately discarded without discussion.
It’s something to be on guard against.
Because of Donald Trump’s rants, standing for the national anthem now feels more like an endorsement of his policies than an act of patriotism.
I always thought it was kind of weird to have a national song that is only sung prior to sporting events, a song so difficult to sing that even professionals have a hard time hitting the notes, a song that’s really just a lyrical version of the fight scene in Cool Hand Luke. I only stood up for it because the song seemed to mean something to the people around me, even if I didn’t quite get it myself.
But now I don’t feel like I can stand in good conscience.
One of the books I’m reading currently is America’s Part in the World War by Richard J. Beamish, ©1919. Here’s a brief excerpt:
How the flower of America’s youth, answering the call to battle, sprang to the support of the colors; how America’s army of democracy was raised almost overnight, trained in an incredibly short period of time and made ready for the front line trenches in the battle for civilization, is a story that will go down through the ages as a monument for all time to the patriotism of America’s young manhood.
It’s sort of a bittersweet thing to read.
One of the things I enjoy about it has nothing to do with the subject matter. If you’ve ever read an interview with Tiny Tim, you know he talked like that all the time. It’s a pity he wasn’t born a half a century earlier- he would have been one of the cool kids. The style is entertaining.
But the facts are staggering. The disruption to lives, the death and human suffering were immense. Colorful words and flags can’t conceal the awful tragedy of it all.
And always in the background is the sad side that the author wouldn’t have known in 1919: he truly believed that good had triumphed over evil, that the world was now safe and free, and the story was ended.
He had know way to know it was only the prologue.