Sunday, July 20, 2008

The river flows like a silent tear

I remain seated these days because I have trouble finding and maintaining my balance-worst part is, I'm not alone. We went from a society with a Bill of Rights to a Summary of Entitlements, and we don't seem to care what happens to anyone else in order to get what we want.

Every night we watch 'the news about the war' as if there were some form of monolithic struggle (like in the good old days, maybe?) but instead all the nuance has been drained from the screen, from the printed dispatches and from the ideology that should, and could, govern our conduct in the world. I read where every year fewer members of Congress, as one example, have ever served in any branch of the armed forces, active or reserve. I'm really not sure how important that actually is but I remember a bitter Air Force joke we used to call the General's Rule: nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it.

A couple of weeks ago, there were stories about this being the thirty-fifth anniversary of the All-Volunteer Force. I spent eight years in the Air Force for many reasons, to include that they paid me ('glow from within' didn't permit me to buy cheap smokes in the commissary, I had to have money). And, sounds petty I know, but because they paid me, I wasn't a volunteer-I was a professional (unless you served with me, and thanks for keeping quiet about all of that).

Maybe I'm an old soul in an even older body. I, like many of my generation went to Woodstock (if not literally than figuratively), and unlike a former Chief Executive, did inhale and did turn on, tune in and drop out and then I started wearing long pants--I think Apostle Paul speaks of it in a letter (from camp ?), "I put aside the things of childhood." Many of the rest of us in the commune stayed with Uncle Max, I guess, on the farm. Sure feels that way.

And we've now raised a second generation of skin-covered obliviots who think because we have Earth Shoes, eat Tofu and wear "Free Tibet" tee-shirts, our piece of the world is safe and saved (what do those monks really think of Richard Gere? I'd love to know). We protest injustice and infamous injury to a person or a people by growing faint in the presence of those who inflict the damage. We still trade with them, mind you-and we even let them host the Olympics, but in our heart of hearts, at night before we close our eyes, we disapprove of them. That'll show 'em.

We have scripted a movie of life where those currently in the military service are some sort of abstraction--we're grateful for their service but we don't want to think about it too much and most of us don't actually know anyone with a son or daughter in the armed forces. Despite our technology and voluminous information networks, we have no idea how the world REALLY works and, more ominously not only do not know what we do not know but are increasingly dismissive of those who know differently than we do. Where's their loyalty and sense of team?

In a hundred years we'll have evolved into a society that we, today, will not recognize, with footnotes to laws now being laws themselves and something akin to a multi-national corporation marketing our next President. Men go crazy in congregations. They only get better one by one.
Who among us will be first?
-bill kenny

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