A few weeks short of twelve years ago and in the aftermath of the 2004 re-election of George W. Bush, I was a participant in an online chat group, one that was mostly anti-Bush, anti-conservative, and anti-Neocon. The handwriting on the wall back then might as well have been written in day-glow paint, describing the national traumas which we all knew were on their way and in search of a place to roost. In any case, one of the members of the group suggested that it could be an interesting exercise to see what ‘Liberals’ see in terms of lifestyle, of likes, dislikes, etc., and why, and how close to 180 degrees from Conservative any or all of them might fall.
I accepted the challenge, and posted the following essay.
November 22, 2004
Progressive moderate leftist independent with certain anti-capitalist leanings (some might call them ‘socialist’ but that wouldn’t necessarily be correct), spiritual AND a-religious, generally harmless, totally heterosexual but sympathetic to good and decent folks no matter their orientation — also no matter skin color, status, net worth, national origin, creed, gender, IQ, et al. etc., but with STRONG dislike/distaste for shallowness, no matter the wrapping.
What I love: my children, my beautiful lady, the memory of my parents, the Earth on which I live.
My passions (in no particular order) are Poetry, reading, writing, conversation, thinking, photography, music; also Nature: deserts, mountains, prairies, lakes, oceans, seashores, canyons, hot, cold, wet, dry, colorful, drab, tundra, tropics, rain forests, forests, unbroken treeless vistas, and all the plant and animal life extant in/on each (except mosquitoes, which I swat); also howling wolves, yapping coyotes, singing birds, the helicopter buzz of hummingbirds, chattering squirrels, bugling elk, and the mighty creak of raptor wings over an otherwise silent world; also the eternal search for the intangibles — Love, Truth, Beauty, Wisdom, — and the means to understand the nature of each (assuming there’s any difference between them); bicycling, walking, hiking, backpacking, camping, exploring, observing, the stunning paradox of a harsh and angular desert in springtime bloom, the aroma of baking bread (have a loaf in the oven as I write this); also history, ruins, relics, and the voices in the wind of those who once lived, and loved, and wrote, and thought.
Things I find to be of little or no use — an abbreviated list: materialism, professional sports, auto racing, horse racing, dog racing, dog shows, parades, motorcycles, dirt bikes, quads, snowmobiles, loud noises, guns, airplanes, speedboats, neckties, three-piece suits, shiny shoes, leather soles, leather souls, padded bras, religious dogma, worship services, Papal encyclicals, tobacco, booze, drugs, freeways, shopping malls, cities, cable TV, broadcast TV, movies (with a few exceptions), sitcoms, “Survivor” (I’ve only ever seen excerpts, but good grief!), fancy restaurants, five star hotels, four star hotels, three, two, and one star hotels, partying, consumerism, cell phones, people who equate wealth with money, swimming pools, SUV’s, developers and real estate agents, used car salesmen, new car salesmen, new cars, hunting (although some of my best friends are hunters), college football and the bowl season, credit cards; and last but by no means least, pompous butt-muffins like Donald Trump.
I detest poverty, war, unfairness, wantoness, abject consumerism, gluttony, Walmart and all it stands for, litter, litterers, lies and the liars that tell them, greed, bandits and thieves of each and every description (including giant banks and multi-national corporations), the “No Child Left Behind” act, the very idea of drilling for oil in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, most politicians (“most” a very generous adjective); stupidity, uncalled for rudeness, and last but by no means least, motor homes with satellite dishes and the noisy generators it takes to power the attached TVs.
I suppose I could have saved a lot of time above and simply said that I’m not much interested in “materialism” and the consequences thereof, but sometimes it’s more fun to stick needles into various (materialist) sacred cows to see if any of them start to moo. 😉 I also happened to see on the morning news that pompous butt-muffin Donald Trump has chapter-elevened his Casino empire for a second time — I think they said the red ink totaled $1.3 bn this time. Aw, poor fellow (somewhere up top I mentioned shallowness and greed, I think).
As for the “detest” category, if it sounded angry, there was a reason, a damned good reason. Late last week a young man died. He was a friend of my older daughter — they went through school together, quite literally: K-12. After he graduated, he enlisted in the Marines; on November 10, he was severely wounded in the battle for Falluja; he was treated first in Germany, then flown back to a hospital in Maryland last Wednesday; his family was able to get there in time to be with him when he died.
I place his death in the “abhorrent” and “political” pigeon holes for reasons which really shouldn’t require much elaboration. Meanwhile, the husband of my daughter’s best friend, also in the USMC, is on his way shortly to Mosul, apparently destined there to fight in the ‘next’ great “victory over the insurgency.” His wife is petrified, of course, as are all her friends and his friends. I heard the fear in my daughter’s voice last night when I spoke with her.
So once again, familiar words and their associated melodies begin to flit about in my head:
“How many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
How many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.”
Those were the words of *my* generation, itself bogged down in a huge senselessness.
“Where have all the soldiers gone?
They’ve gone to graveyards, every one.
Oh, when will they ever learn?”
Fifty-eight thousand lessons “learned” then, enough names to ornament a very long wall of black granite; and yet today that same question demands itself be repeated over and over again. Eventually there comes a recognition of the reality:
“On the stone that remains
Carved next to his name
His epitaph plain:
Only a pawn in their game.”
Is that really it? Is that all there is?
“I’m weary as Hell.
The confusion I’m feelin’
Ain’t no tongue can tell.
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor;
And if God is on our side,
He’ll stop the next war.”
So much for that idea, then.
Obviously, my generation failed. We’re in good company, of course — the company of every other generation that’s attempted to infuse thinking and common sense into this life: aka virtually every human generation that’s yet come and gone, or going. But still, *we* came so close, or so we dared to think. Of course now it’s my generation that’s pulling the same old silly stunts all over again and young men still die for no discernible purpose other than to satisfy the current whim of our current version of TS Eliot’s Hollow Men:
“… the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar”
Imagine it: men — supposedly grown men — playing video games, but with live ammo and real lives?
If I sounded/sound angry, it’s nothing personal; it’s simply directed at a nation, a society, a people, who ought to know better. Meanwhile, the big news of the week concerned the official (FCC) moral outrage expressed over a locker room scene from last week’s Monday Night Football. A cute blond, wrapped in a towel, dropped the towel, exposed a bare back, and hugged a black guy. Great god in heaven! When will this moral erosion — the poisoning of our nation — stop??! Didn’t that Janet Jackson atrocity teach us anything?
As Bob Dylan put it, “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin’ in the wind.”
September 22, 2016
Were I to write on the same matter today — two months short of twelve years later — I wouldn’t have to change more than a word or two here and there, maybe ‘trump’ an old Republican stat or two, and all the rest still stands. Ah, the irony!
So here we are today, two months short of a dozen years down the road. Another Presidential Election is just ahead, soon to be just behind, and as I re-read the stuff above, my sole thoughts are very simple ones: why is the past always prelude? Why the hell can’t we find our way out of this godforsaken CAGE that we humans have been in for thousands of years? Why can’t we leave all the hate and fear, the shallowness and greed, behind us and move FORWARD for the first time in our species’ entire history? WHY do do we continue to allow racism, bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia, religio-phobias — each and all re-foisted and encouraged, this day, by “pompous butt-muffins like Donald Trump,” that “poor fellow” who remains, this day, obsessed with and defined by his own “shallowness and greed”?
Why is that? What the hell is the matter with this country, with this world? Why can’t “intelligent” beings such as we humans ever seem to take a single step toward progress in any direction that might be considered a move forward? Why do we always lurk in the shadows? Why the hate? Why the fear? The greed?
Exactly. There it is. The now 53 year-old response to the same questions people of sound mind were asking back then, the same questions people of sound mind are asking today. The search goes on, and on, and on.
Today we know: THE ANSWER, MY FRIEND, IS a simple one. It’s that the POOR
FELLOW, that POMPOUS BUTT-MUFFIN who remains, this day, totally
obsessed with and defined by his own SHALLOWNESS AND GREED;
his name: DONALD TRUMP – the one who still, to this day, is
BLOWING . . . WIND.
Bottom Line: in November 2004, the American tragedy was indeed the re-(s)election of George W. Bush to the Presidency. Within the four years that followed, the consequences became clear: both of Bush’s illicit wars continued, and thousands of innocents continued to die; two more conservative justices (Roberts and Alito) were appointed to the Supreme Court in Sept. 2005; the Federal budget deficit and America’s national debt soared even as the rich got richer and the poor got poorer; in the final few months of his presidency in 2008, the US economy tanked; unemployment soared, and we were one step away from falling off the edge into a second Great Depression abyss.
Now, twelve years later, Presidential candidate Donald Trump, standing atop the GOP Heap, makes George W. Bush look almost as though he’s the reincarnation of Abe Lincoln by comparison. Do we as a nation really want to go there? Why? How can that be? Is there no sanity left anywhere? Must we allow this country to be the very DEFINITION of political malfeasance, of corruption?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind.
Some things never seem to change.