Before the Brave New World Order, when the good and bad guys were a lot easier to tell apart, my wife's mom used to send a care package from Offenbach near the end of November, the fourth Thursday in Germany being celebrated with a little less gusto than how we do it here, that always included kinder schokolade (actually the big eggs with the amazing toys always requiring some assembly are outlawed here in this country; AR-15's not so much, go figure), esel salami and Christmas stolen.
Now with the world a 24/7 mall, we just go online and nine out of ten times the products we're buying with the familiar names are now made in China. It's how we like it-cheap. When it wears out or breaks, we buy another and forget in the old days that didn't happen so often or so fast. We work very hard to forget how to remember how things were and pretend they were always just as they are now. We've always been at war with Oceania or was it Eurasia? Sometimes I get confused but the next Two Minutes Hate will make it all clear.
When you watch animals of the same species meet one another for the first time, they are usually tentative, sniffing and pawing and sniffing some more. We're not very much like that-whether it's someone new moving in (been on the movee side of that equation) to our neighborhood or just a wave of new people showing up where we hadn't thought they might be or even imagined they could be.
We're coming up on Independence Day which should be the standard against which we hold ourselves, as citizens of this country and as citizens of the world, every day and not an excuse to buy 20% off at the Mall, buy a keg and have a barbecue with a grill that's crying like a fire in the sun (I said medium well-done, Conan-nice job). A little more than a hundred and fifty years ago we were still struggling with the aftermath of a fratricidal war that ended slavery in the USA and have tried, fitfully, at times to move on with ourselves and our lives.
In many ways who we are now is what we were then as that war propelled us fully into the Industrial Age, whose Revolution had begun twenty years earlier, and helped move us towards a more open and larger engagement with the rest of the world until we had achieved Pax Americana, that started after Appomattox.
Many have sacrificed much so that we can be who we are--and many are away from home today, far from home, in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, the Horn of Africa and South Korea because those who wish us ill don't take holidays and as a famous Chicagoan (no, not Ernie Banks) so eloquently explained decades ago, you get more with kind words and a gun than you do with kind words alone.
Men and women in uniform, no matter their personal politics and feelings, would agree that growing faint when confronted by the evil in the world will not deter or distract it. It must be confronted or it will consume everyone and everything, including those who think fretting about our democracy, is nobler than struggling to protect it. As you shop for the big three-day weekend please spare a moment for all those, past, present and future, who make it possible. And I'll meet you further on up the road.