Sunday, September 16, 2007

A vision for the future...9-16-07


"O, it is excellent / To have a giant's strength, but it is tyrannous / To use it like a giant." Measure for Measure 2.2

This blog will comment on, evaluate, and deconstruct current important social and political issues as well as salient trends and developments in areas as diverse as literary theory and baseball. Public figures are certainly fair game to be named; however, any comments that seem to be directed to a specific anonymous person are purely coincidental. The focus of this page will be analytical. If you have no interest in philosophical discussions, there are many sites in this brave new world we call the internet. For those of you who want to think and be challenged, let the ride begin...
First, this is not a page dedicated to a political party or "liberal" or "conservative" base. One of the most disappointing developments in contemporary society is the death of intellectual curiosity. People who say they have political views are "educated" by right and left wing radio and TV. Their minds have long ago ceased to be their own, and they wouldn't recognize an original thought if they had one. What does Rush think...? What is Hillary's position...? What would Jesus do...? Who cares... As Emerson said in "Self-Reliance," A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen...Speak what you think now in hard words and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today." The point here, of course, is not that I am endorsing "flip flopping" but rather the very positive quality of thinking for yourself, as "nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind."
As most of you, I hope, I love my country and want it to be the beacon of hope in a hostile world that it should be, the "shining city on a hill" that has turned into a sad joke in these cynical times.
Shakespeare spoke of the abuse of power in the brief quote above. He knew very well the consequences of absolute power, as he was writing plays at the time of the Jamestown settlement; indeed, it was in one of his last plays, The Tempest, where he coined the phrase "brave new world" that I mentioned in my opening parargraph. Will our future be defined by continual war? Will our "allies" be there to defend us if and when "they" follow us home? Do we care about Mexico's perception of our country? Is Canada going to halt an invasion of this country? It always amazes me when people talk about the evils of nuclear weapons when, as ironic as it may be, they are the only reason we have not had World War III. No country claimed responsibility for 9-11 because they fear nuclear annihilation, not because they wouldn't like to wipe our country off the face of the earth. Human instinct at its core consists of self-preservation. As with all animals, we want to survive. Period.
I come from a family who actually fought in wars. I have my grandfather's Purple Heart in my safe. He was a middle-class Italian who went to France and took three bullets to help prevent a Nazi takeover of the world. Is that what we face now? Come on... In World War II, if you were able-bodied you fought in the war, as my grandmother's four brothers also did. Our "volunteer" army is in a practical sense a destination of last resort for MANY--not all-- of the young men and women in this country who choose to join the military. Many others join because of a sincere love for this country and a sense of patriotism that is far beyond that of the old men in Congress who send young men and women to die, as they are concerened more about stocks and money than freedom and justice. The Democrats are a joke because they are too cowardly to risk their coveted power by actually doing the right thing in Iraq. They need to learn from the Republicans, who at least know how to play hardball, divide-and-conquer politics. Who else could make a bunch of middle and lower class white men think they have something in common with millionaires they elect. It's genius: George Bush isn't really a Yale man, he's Bubba...
Military recruiters scour lower income high schools, with promises of cash for college to kids whose options are limited because they are products of a criminally deficient public school system. The military knows that many of these kids do not have the academic skills to succeed in college. Where is the military presence at upscale public and private high schools? Where is the call for all men and women to enlist so that we can defeat this grave threat to our way of life? Isn't that what the President should be saying: Join now so we can win this war and save our way of life! Where is the draft? We were able to secure Germany in the aftermath of WW II because we had 1,000,000 soldiers there! Surely, we could do the same in Iraq, where we currently have somewhere around 170,000 troops.This is a stealth war fought by courageous young men and women who are being manipulated by cowards, and for what? We have a government that cannot even define victory, let alone achieve it. What is the endgame?
We will not bomb Islamic terrorists into a love of American values. They have always hated us and that hatred has only multiplied exponentially in the past 4 years. The most naive of us speak of the power of democracy, without thinking about the painful reality that when given the vote, many people actually embrace our enemies, not our system or values. As Yeats said, 'The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity." One need only look at the elections in Iran, Lebanon, and Gaza to see how that inane logic has worked for us. The pathetic and misguided idea that people in Iraq were somehow going to embrace our values is truly one of the most tragic miscalculations in this country's history, and it is our children and their children who may very well have to continually fight the wars that are spawned by this folly. And the next generation will not have the luxury of watching the war on CNN...
Now that our government has been taken over by chicken hawks, men whose "patriotism" led them to a plethora of military deferments in Vietnam, our saving grace is that science, not religion, has provided us with the technology to create weapons of mass destruction that are a tangible and profound deterrent to those who would love to destroy our country and the freedom it stands for. As DeLillo said, they hate us because of our modernity and our perceived godlessness, as we are a secular society in which religion is no more than a symbol of propriety for the vast majority of our citizens.
Realism dictates that we cannot be pacifists: If only the world was a kind, peaceful, loving place, but the tide of history is awash in the blood of the guilty and innocent alike. The times call for a return to limited isolationism, with military involvement only in areas that are real threats to the security of our state or those of our true allies. Diplomacy and the threat of catastrophic military consequences have been used to avoid WW III, and it's an unpleasant but very real status quo that we have to maintain and cultivate.

"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"