Think about it.
This question inspired another sleepless night... Most of us have been discussing the shootings in Oregon, the most recent example of mass murder in an American school. Interestingly, similarly sane and rational people considering the circumstances of the crime come to diametrically opposed conclusions. Some want to ban all guns. Others want to arm themselves. Even more interestingly, those who respond out of fear can reach either conclusion. So can those who are predominantly angry. This dichotomy led me to consider if fear and anger share a common root and how can people with similar feelings be poles apart in their response to the same situation.
I believe I found the answer. Both fear and anger are founded in helplessness.
Think about it.
“Oh-dark-thirty” is an expression I learned in the Army where we measured time by the 24-hour clock. The dark of the night could be anytime roughly from midnight to 04:00 (pronounced “zero-four-hundred”) depending upon your location and the season of the year. Thus, Oh-dark-thirty is any time in the middle of the night when you should be abed, sleeping.
A variant of the phrase, “Zero-dark-thirty”, became popularly known when a film of that title was produced describing the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden. The raid that ended his life occurred in the middle of the night.
When I was in the Army, we said “Oh” instead of “Zero”. I suppose the Brits say “Zed”. Or, they may say something completely different like, "Blimy, it's late!"
Did you ever wake up a child at Oh-dark-thirty? They're usually groggy, confused, aren't they? That's something the Army trained out of us. War comes anytime and you have to be awake and alert or you die. The modern Army claims to own the night. They have smaller, more efficient night-vision devices and train extensively in night tactics. In my time, during the Vietnam War, we simply struggled to survive the night.
Almost 300,000 veterans witnessed atmospheric tests of nuclear devices: Atomic Bombs and Hydrogen Bombs. They are known as Atomic Veterans. Most, if not a majority, are dead as you read this. Many died young of cancers and tuberculosis induced by their exposure to the deadly radiation emitted by these detonations. Those fortunate enough to survive such early onsets of fatal diseases are now dying of old age. Sadly, the United States has never officially acknowledged their participation as what many would characterize as guinea pigs. There is not even a ribbon to wear on their chests among the other campaign medals they may have earned.
The service members who distinguished themselves with great valor on a train in France should be awarded the Soldier's Medal. It is the only decoration available for valor performed outside a combat situation. However, a veteran receives no such military honor.
Of course politicians will jump at the chance at being photographed with a hero and I expect that Chris Mintz will receive their attention for rushing unarmed against the shooter in Oregon. Sadly, Mintz will be mere window dressing for the politicians' aggrandizement.
To be fair, most racists probably are disturbed by immigrants and aliens living in America and speaking their native language. It is ironic that such racists also enjoy pizza and chow mien and countless other pleasures that immigrants and aliens have contributed to culture in these United States. However, does that mean that all who eat ethnic foods and espouse that they learn English are racist? Hardly. Many simply wish to avoid the curse described in the Old Testament when man built the Tower of Babel to elevate himself above God and was cast into a confusion of languages. Confusion is the enemy of discourse, reason, and understanding which is absolutely necessary if we are to govern ourselves successfully.
Before we go any further I should state that I am not in favor of making English the official language of the United States. I'm too old to learn a foreign language. I speak American. I write American. I think American. Anyone who fails to see the difference between English and American just isn't paying attention. My wife and I enjoy many broadcasts that we find on BBC America, especially British crime dramas. Sadly they aren't aired with subtitles and we are often lost in the weeds. Not only are some dialects unfathomable (as are some regional American dialects), but also there is an idiomatic abyss somewhere in the Atlantic midway between London and New York. The simple fact is that I fear that we will be denied the greatest gifts of those who adopt America if they fail to learn the common language and that they will likewise be denied the greatest gifts that it has to offer them. Freedom of Speech includes the right to speak in any language one chooses. However, they must also keep in mind that we also have the right to ignore them.
Sadly, it seems that our Constitution has failed. Our union is becoming less perfect, more fragmented. Justice and domestic tranquility are fast disappearing. Our defenses are being riddled by invaders across our porous borders. The general welfare is suffering from a growing proportion of the population living in poverty. And liberty is a fading dream. Many feel that these trends can be reversed if the government's cancerous-like growth can be stopped and reversed.
Why has government grown so far beyond its Constitutionally mandated limits? Principally, it seems that the plain language restrictions on government growth have been misinterpreted until they mean the opposite of the original intention of the architects of the Constitution.
Maybe, just maybe, we need some other method to restrict government, something other than words.
I'm a lot of things: Husband, father, grandfather, American, writer, author. Generally, I'm proud to claim all. Until recently, I didn't think much about the fact that I'm also a veteran, a Vietnam Veteran to put a fine point on it. I'm very proud of that too. Recently I came across an interesting infographic that I want to share. It seems that out of some 340 million in the United States, veterans comprise less than 10% of the population and, on average, fare better than most.
Sponsored by BallotCraft
Anyone who followed my blog postings for Elections 2012 and 2014 may easily imagine that I'm steeling myself for another disappointment in 2016. My powers of prognostication are probably no better than yours. However, I'm determined to have a little fun this time. I'm playing BallotCraft.
Playing BallotCraft is much like playing Fantasy Football. It doesn't matter if your favorite team wins or not. You win or lose based on the performance of the individual candidates that you select from every party and ideology. Your challenge is to pick the best performers from the field.
Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Points won with good choices will offset those lost on poor ones. Your overall score is based on the average of all the candidates you've selected.
Now, rather than annoying friends and family with your political views this campaign season, why not vent your spleen on your fellow players. There are discussion threads and a Chat Room where you can make new friends and political enemies.
I listened with considerable fascination to a speech delivered by a thirteen year old Boy Scout on Patriot's Day 2015. He lamented that he had never known peace in his short life. He was, after all, born following the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, and the War on Terror, he reminded us, has raged continuously since then. Hadn't he heard? President Obama declared it done and won.
In any event, the Boy Scout accomplished his task. Well, at least with me, he succeeded. He got me to thinking. Have I ever known peace? Have you?
I'm rather proud of myself. I got it, but I'm going to hold off explaining it until the end of this blog. You too should have the pleasure of figuring it out.
I know, I know. You got it without any prompting from me. However, there are some who don't. Many born “outside the faith” don't know what those wooden benches in churches are called. (Oh God, I just gave it away, didn't I?) Well, too bad.
To be honest, that's not the point of this essay.