Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My Friend Bob

Below, verbatim, is an email I recently sent to an old friend from my days as a historian for the Air Force at Tinker. He's a retired AF colonel, a staunch Republican, gun nut, lover of fast cars. That is, totally opposite from me. But we've remained friends across these barriers. Some background. As is his custom, he forwarded to me some right-wing b.s. written by another retired AF pilot. The gist of it was everybody in the current administration are devils and they have to turned out for the country to be saved. In reply I demurred, saying, among other things, that neither of the political parties was going to save the country and it was foolish to think so. To my surprise, he responded that he agreed, but he then asked "what's to be done?" This is my reply.
Is there anything that can be done, my friend? Obviously, the political process is not going to produce anything but more of the same, which means an ever burdensome existence for millions of people in this country. I'm not so sure anything substantial gets changed now without bloodshed and mayhem--not that I'm suggesting we go grab our pikes.

One of the enduring characteristics of this country is that it has, from the very beginning, thought of itself as superior to every other nation on the planet. By nature superior, by choice of God superior. Which somehow endows us with the power (or grace or ability or blessing, depending on where you're coming from) to escape history. When in fact, as a historian and I'm sure you can see it yourself, I can tell you our path looks just like the paths of other empires now on the dust heap of history. Concentration of wealth and political power in the hands of a small elite, endless wars (you can already hear the drumbeats for conflict with Iran), military spending sapping the creative impulses of the country, proliferation of internal controls, growing dependencies on the resources of others, and so on. What happens is there eventually comes a breaking point that brings the edifice toppling. Could be internal or external. Point is, it's inevitable.

I don't think there's much we wise old heads can do to change things materially. Unless there's some way I haven't heard of to get us off this path we've charted for ourselves. We can practice charity. We can take whatever course our wisdom as elders dictates whether that be as much service we can render to those being hurt, wounded, ground down, discouraged by this cruel process or helping others understand. We can embody peace and pass on to our progeny and any others we can influence virtues like honesty and compassion. And we have to muster as much faith as we can to see things through ourselves.

I know all of this sounds awful fatalistic . . . but I've tried to be honest about the way I really see things. We, both of us, are caught up this this maelstrom, Bob. And we know in our heart of hearts that politicians of any stripe or party are not going to save us. That's why I'm really calm about this election, and all to follow, actually. I've finally concluded that they don't mean anything. They don't change anything. They are a periodic plaything for the power elites and the lamestream media, and an obsession for all those political junkies, bloggers, and pundits. In fact, they are fraudulent exercises to convince the credulous that they actually have a voice in the way the country is governed. Both of us know better.

Sorry. I didn't mean to get so "soap-boxy" on you.
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