Democrats & Liberals Archives

Vacation

My wife and I took a vacation last week at the beach. We watched the ocean and listened to its background noise while we read and cooked and slept and smiled and smiled and smiled. Smiling is really relaxing, I can recommend it. We worked at a few things that needed to be attended to immediately. But for the most part we were living the life of the totally unplugged and it was a far, far kinder world we lived in than the one we returned to this morning.

Iraq in all of its contradictory splendor as the lawless nation that invented law and an impoverished nation with huge wealth lying beneath its sands is still there. The “Great Divide” in American Politics is still crippling our society and threatening our democracy. The specter of nuclear arms in Iran and North Korea still haunts our security. Al Queda is still trying to follow up its huge success in New York with something else that will catch our attention, now that we have unwittingly aided their recruitment efforts in the world at large. In short the world is much as we left it and that is comforting in its own way.

Things that move too fast out on the periphery of our vision frighten most of us in the human race. That is probably a function of the time when our ancestors were more hunted than hunters but it still seems appropriate. We are a lot too focused on the truck we are trying to pass and that makes us far more vulnerable to the Humvee bearing down on us in the passing lane. We are heading into a future where the same old answers will not work anymore. Oil is going to be in short supply in the future regardless of how Iraq plays out in the end. Saudi Arabia will not remain as easy to deal with if democracy really takes over there any more than Iran would be if democracy suddenly bloomed there. A wall will not solve Israel’s problems any more than it solved Russia’s or East Germany’s or will solve ours along the Mexican border. The world is as always as we find it not as we might wish it would be.

Most of us know that fact from hard experience and we use various methods to forget it at times of stress. We reassure ourselves with denial, we falsify the evidence that disaster is just a few feet away, we break with reality and take a vacation from truth, any or all of the above will do in a crunch. At least until the Humvee strikes our front bumper, then the moment of truth is upon us in all of its splendor. We are not more threatened from without by Al Queda than we are from within by our own lack of focus on real threats to our economy and Republic. Al Queda could get lucky and kill a few million of us if their wildest dreams came true, they will never destroy this great Republic. It can only be destroyed from within. If they succeed here again we will crush them if it takes the use of all of our power to do that, which it will not. We have been distracted by Iraq but we still can destroy them if we focus on their limited threat to us. Their greatest threat is not to us but to those they seek to lead against us.

Remember Afghanistan under the Taliban and Al Queda? Who was most damaged by those unwashed barbarians, the USA or the Afghani People themselves? We lost three thousand in 9/11 and a few more in the war. They lost over a million killed by war and starvation and disease during the years of war before the Taliban took control of portions of that nation. They lost hundreds of thousands whose lives were destroyed by the inhumane treatment of Afghani’s by other Afghani’s. They are still starving there today in many parts of that completely un-subdued nation. The Poppy is once again king in Afghan agriculture and the money is going to feed the coffers of warlords who have no loyalty to the illusion of government that we are maintaining there. Poverty and hunger dominate the lives of most people there, as they have for centuries, and will perhaps forever. It is in the civility of people of different beliefs toward one another that a real basis for civil society is found. That is absent in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia and seriously limited in Iran and Iraq.

We are working toward limiting our devotion to civility in this nation to those who agree with us politically or on religious doctrine or by measure of any of a myriad of other means which we can use to divide our society into “us” and “them”. We are all one here, black and white, rich and poor, religious and profane, strong and weak, young and old. It is as true today as when it was first spoken in the time of our revolution that “we will all hang together or we shall all hang separately”. The world outside our borders is not under our control despite the illusion maintained by our dominating military power which is looking wispy today. We need to understand that our nation is as precious as it ever has been; as is each and every one of the people in it. I can no longer decry incivility by others without reflecting on my own lack of civil behavior towards them. Those are the fruits of this vacation if I can maintain them, humor is allowed and mockery is valuable as a tool of humor. Bitterness and anger are not. God bless you all and keep you safe in working toward a civil society that embraces difference and truth as two faces of the same coin that has made us as rich and powerful as we are today. ©Henri Reynard/GoldenBrush Interactive

Posted by Henri Reynard at July 18, 2004 3:05 PM