Thursday, July 3, 2008

America: a Cornucopia of Cupidity

We're thisclose to Independence Day but I'm actually thinking, albeit only for a moment about (Saint) Valentine's Day, because cupidity should have something to do with the latter, right? But it doesn't--however, it has a lot to do with who we are and where we are in the world today.

If fifty is the new thirty (I had such high hopes for what that made 56-all in vain as it turns out), I guess that makes four dollars a gallon the new buck seventy-five. I wish I were joking but I'm not--we're still driving as if the Bill of Rights guaranteed us cheap gas and we keep buying vehicles so large they have their own zip codes.

As a nation founded on the idea of fun, or what do you make of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" (thanks, Ben, and not just for the stove; and all this time I wondered Are Friends Electric? And will they now cost more because of rate hikes on the first?) when did we become Me-Firsters on everything? Yeah, we can take turns checking out at the grocery, merging into traffic, getting a hot dog at the ballgame, and you can start the line behind me.

We have become a nation of 'what's mine is mine, but what's yours is negotiable' even while we promise in the next few days to think about those whose service makes our way of life possible. At the risk of sounding less New Age and more like the relentless pragmatic curmudgeon that I am, I'd point out to armchair warriors that many, if not all, of those in the US Armed Forces will fight for their country (= you + me) but they will die for one another. They put a flower in the picture frame/Some mother's memory remains.

'Liberty, Fraternity, Equality' were the watchwords of the French Revolution and despite the purest of intentions, that little episode went off the rails in rapid order. We, on these shores, were still such a young and fragile democracy. We were struggling with problems of our own and never became involved in a revolution that boasted it was modelled on ours. Somehow we knew mirrors were not windows and reflections were only true to themselves and not the originals. Good for us--better for everyone else.

I don't want to harsh your buzz as you buy ice for tomorrow's picnic or pick up the steaks for the grill for the afternoon barbecue or maybe oil up the glove for the softball game that's always part of the weekend's activities but maybe in the next three days, you can find the time to click here and read a little about the 140 thousand kids, of all ages, we've sent halfway around the world and only think about when some part of that number end up as "B" roll on the nightly news. The pursuit of happiness is an essential freedom, but as with all freedoms, it comes with a cost.
-bill kenny

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