When the war to end all wars ended, preparation for the next war began in earnest as man sought new and greater means of destruction. Our new age produced both the yawning mouths of ovens capable of consuming millions of fragile bodies and the unleashing of the secrets harbored by the atom. As the mushroom cloud ascended to the heavens, our gods nodded with approval. We were now on equal footing with nature, able to maim, kill, and destroy all that stood in our path. The secret was loosened and fled the opened lid of Pandoras Box. Suddenly the whole world knew our secret formula for destruction, and nation after nation rushed to develop their very own version of how to compete with Mother Nature.
The promise of peace through the power of the atom proved as elusive for modern man as it did for the Greeks who developed the Art of War, and engaged in heroic legends of death by feat of arms as mans destiny. I often wonder if a man feels more heroic being blown to smithereens or slowly bleeding to death from a sword thrust through his bowels or a spear protruding from his chest or a bullet ripping through the grey matter that was once a brain.
Our American leaders now look on everything as a war. We have the War on Drugs, the War on Fat, the War on Terrorism, the Iraq War, and Preventive War. One wishes that some bright bulb in the world or perhaps our own White House or Congress would declare a War on War.
The present administration unleashes the politics of fear on a populace that stands and waves the banner as the jingoistic mantras blare from the speakers. Watch as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney pump the crowds with their views of Armageddon and the evil of terrorists and then see the steel grey caskets draped in the flag of our country roll from the gaping bellies of military transports. As George W. and his neo-con legions search the elusive vapors for truth and justification for their invasion of Iraq, their chameleon explanations change quicker than most people change underwear. The preferred threat of WMD (weapons of mass destruction) has been discarded in favor of imposing democracy on this unwilling country, Iraq. I suppose, if our military kills enough of the Iraqi people, the survivors will embrace democracy, rather than dying and meeting up with promised harems of virgins in heaven. It is hoped that the Iraqi people accept democracy soon, as heaven has been rumored to be running out of virgins for all of the willing martyrs. Is there a place in heaven stocked with boy toys for the increasing number of women willing to blow themselves apart?
In a few short weeks, the American people will be given an opportunity to choose whether to stay the course of war with Bush, or seek a new direction from challenger John Kerry. Bush supporters are presented with an image of a man who walks a straight and narrow trail, never deviating from his chosen path. Kerry is presented as the flip flopper, a man who continually changes his mind. Bush, we are told, never changes his mind, even when presented with the evidence that his direction is flawed, and he is in danger of walking off a cliff.
Our last presidential debates between Bush and Gore were delivered on a sixth- or seventh-grade academic level. The promise of the debates this year between Bush and Kerry, in all probability, will remain at this level or lower. Will we give the thoughtful man or thoughtless man our attention and pause with due reflection regarding the course and direction we want our country to follow. The Road Map for Peace in the Middle East is shredded and has been declared useless by Ariel Sharon and the State of Israel. The promise of Perpetual War looks like a winner for the foreseeable future. The September 18 cover of The Economist shouts, NO WAY TO RUN A DEMOCRACY. The ensuing articles detail how many of our American democratic institutions have failed or are in danger of failing.
As with so many of the other abuses in American politics, it need not be that way. Just as some states have bought good voting machines, others have redrawn their electoral boundaries in a sensible way. Iowa, for instance, allows an independent commission to set them. Redistricting can be fixed and it should be. Americas devotion to the principle of democracy is admirable but the principle could be far better honoured in the practice.
None of us know when our horizon will reveal the distant shore that we seek or when we will finally step ashore to a land that balances reason with the nuances of emotion. Until that time arrives, we will have to continually adjust our compass settings lest we sail off the edge of the world.
by Bill Logal
When will that shore appear from which at last we see How all this came to pass and for what reason? Czeslaw Milosz From the Rising of the Sun
The hint of frosty autumn mornings greets early risers and, as they sip their first cup of coffee in their favorite breakfast nook, they glance at the days headlines. Emblazoned print screams out the newest disaster perpetuated by either man or nature. Graphics illuminate the story of the awesome power of nature as it unleashes winds that devour and shred all in its path. Man, not to be outdone by hurricanes or other natural disasters, displays his destructive urges in the photos showing the burned-out hulks of motor vehicles, the twisted wreckage of buildings, and the mangled bodies of those now considered collateral damage.