If God made me white and liberal, then God had a reason. “I won’t be made (guilty), nor be idle with despair.” As Jewel sings.
Of course I like my “citizen” essays, but since we all like to hear about human beings, well, it’s time for a “human interest” piece about my life, or, if that’s too hard for me to share, at least about my flaming opinions. Self-indulgent maybe, but hey: It’s a blog thing.
As you may recall, blog is short for “(world wide) web log.” Originally, young folks, comfortable with computers, who rightly thought their lives mattered, would post a log (Stardate 3141.59) about their days and their fears, complete with photographs of what they had for breakfast. This required some effort. Today our “need to get attention” is more easily served by briefly tweeting. Like the U.S. president does.
As for me, I’m just as modest about my “ordinary half-boring life” as was my favorite dead-tree essayist George Orwell, or my three favorite essay-bloggers: Modest, all of us. For example, I barely know, in passing, that the other essayists have wives, but I don’t know what the wives have for breakfast, or what kind of shirts they wear… as their kitchen counter radio plays Major Tom. (Space Oddity)
If you and I didn’t want to get some attention, through our blogs, tweets, media and our conversations in-person at the watering hole, if instead we were totally self-effacing, then I guess we would be saints. And verily our lives without attention would be as plain as supper without salt: Oh well, at least as saints we’d save on the cost of beer and cigarettes.
As for thinking we all count, I’m still chuckling over someone’s T-shirt I spotted down in the States. You may recall the Yankees have been saying, “Black lives matter.” This T-shirt had big block letters to proclaim:
At the top: ALL LIVES MATTER
At the bottom: except isis, fuck those guys.
You might say those words against ISIL are “demonizing the enemy.” I would agree. I saw the T-shirt out in the Arizona desert, among plastic lawn chairs, as in: “the white seats,” as in: the expensive up-front section of a big outdoor country music festival. A performer reminded us to support our military. He added, “If you think supporting our military is political, then you can just leave now. Because supporting our American military is never political.”
That’s historically true: When little republics like Athens or Corinth would beat the drum everybody would rally around the flag. The drum, to use a metaphor, was kept silent until there was unity. Any political talk among the people mingling in the forum would happen before they finally voted and all clamored for war. Then: All of the people would support some of the people to carry out the wishes of the people. Historically.
What if, foolishly, we would attempt to fight before we felt an appropriate certitude in our decision? The Bible has that covered: “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” and “A house divided cannot stand.” If you do, God help you, blow an uncertain note, if the people “blow it,” then it still remains appropriate to emotionally support your “countrymen at arms,” beyond all politics, while at home we are acting as swiftly as possible to sort out our political conscience.
Historically, such is the way of a healthy republic.
The classic “uncertain note” would be the “Vietnam conflict” —the official army term— during my youth. Americans used under-voting-age Cold War conscripts—the conscription being ALREADY in progress—as part of the greater Cold War effort.
The smaller localized conflict in the Republic of South Vietnam was never formally endorsed nor declared to be a war by the U.S. people, the “body politic.” In fact… even though the contested battleground was officially the “hearts and minds” of the Vietnamese, to convert them to democracy, while preventing them from converting to communism… it is documented that all of the important leaders in Washington, let alone regular citizens, could not have passed a simple community college exam on the hearts and culture of the Vietnamese.
The Americans never called up their National Guard and their reserves; they had no recycling, or any other sort of war effort, on the “home front.” Such a dim uncertain trumpet.
As for me, as a Bohemian sings, “I’m just a poor boy, from a poor family…” and yet I easily mingled enough, in the desert, among affluent fans in the white seats. I can say with assurance the rich people had ample empathy for working people, trailer trash and, as Loretta Lynn sings, a coal miner’s daughter. Furthermore—here starts my flaming opinions—those country fans could sympathize with the dear boys and girls whom America would send into harm’s way. Unlike certain elite
—Oops! I wonder if I have just offended some Guilty-White-Liberals? You know, the elite so comfortable to stay-at-home while letting impoverished guys like me do all their fighting for them. As for that anti-ISIL T-shirt, before my Canadian readers call it prejudiced against innocent ISIL-Arabians, remember this: The U.S. has declared War on Terror. This means, by definition, Americans have to “demonize the enemy.”
I live on planet reality. Maybe on fantastic Mars the patriotic social workers and saints, during wartime, are flying in their bombers and pressing their buttons while sobbing, “This will hurt me worse than it hurts you.” Not me. I would look down through my plexi-glass at the flashing anti-aircraft guns and say, “Screw those bastards.”
Historically, no one has ever been able to make war-time sacrifices, such as great tax increases… or leaving their crops half-grown in their fields, or leaving their college degree half-finished, or leaving their National Football League cash-cow to go off and join the fight, not until they had first demonized the enemy.
My dear Canadian readers: If, hypothetically, Canada declares War on Terror, and then, if you and your friends don’t demonize the enemy, then to me it logically follows: You might as well do tax decreases just like Bush junior did, and let your war be fought by “others” such as civil servants. In uniform. Which would suit corrupt liberals just fine. But know this: You surely are confused or a liar if you call that a “war.” I know one thing for sure: Even a bigot hates a liar.
A thought: If someone asks in bewilderment, “Why do some people view Hilary, Obama and Bush junior, despite their diversity of gender, skin color and party membership, as being all the same, all elite, all peas in a pod?” then at last I have an answer… Now, during World War II, young Bush senior was in uniform, a pilot, shot down by fascist AA guns in the Pacific and then rescued by a submarine. Yes, but can you imagine those three young peas, Hilary, Obama and Bush junior, serving out in the Pacific, fighting on Hacksaw Ridge? (Film) Me neither.
In contrast, I can imagine a (future) President Kennedy volunteering in WWII, President Truman volunteering in WWI, and President Lincoln volunteering in the Blackhawk war, where his peers elected him to be a lieutenant. Everyone respects Lincoln: By his plain words and his down-to-earth humor, we know he had too much inner dignity to ever want to join the elite.
Forget the elite: I can easily imagine President Trump sharing my foxhole. I’d probably have to tell him to keep his head down as he occasionally fired off a few rounds and shouted insults across no man’s land at the evil Nazis. When the time came to race across the field to the enemy lines, through thick dust and smoke, so thick that no one would ever know if we secretly wimped out or not… I could surely count on Trump to keep up with me as we dashed into the fire...
As I was saying at the top: Of course we all want to get attention, but let’s not tell false news with our tweets, blogs and social media, not about ourselves. For example, I would hope that by honestly blogging that I have an “ordinary half-boring life,” my readers aren’t struck by FOMO—fear of missing out. And hey, let’s not get confused about the definition of war. Let’s not lie to ourselves.
Human Interest Religion Sidebar: held back for some other week.
~The used bookstore in Sundre has a separate room for treasured old books; I drive the nicely scenic 22 north from Cochrane.
~The movie Hacksaw Ridge is like Saving Private Ryan: heavy casualties. But the grim film is still worth it, being a moving testimony to one man’s faith, a God-fearing man. He wouldn’t touch a rifle, yet he won his country’s highest honor, presented to him by President Harry Truman. At the end of the movie, people clapped for a long time. I have the old hardcover version, unearthed in Sundre, on my shelf. (The Unlikeliest Hero by Booton Herndon)
~A person of color, with laughing eyes, teased me, “But you’re a liberal.” My eyes flashed, “But I’m not guilty!”
~If God made me white and liberal, then God had a reason. I won’t be made guilty, nor be idle with despair. As Jewel sings.