Notes for this post have been sitting around for awhile and the thoughts behind it for a lifetime so excuse the disjointedness. I remember thinking it would irritate some people if I posted it on Memorial Day and now here it is being posted on Independence Day.
There are those who worship the military and think they represent the best of the country and are always automatically right. This thought was brought home again with recent discussion of a veteran’s cemetery to be possibly located on a wild and apparently rugged area of a state park. I’m not a big fan of cemeteries anywhere but damaging a natural area for one seems especially stupid.
My father has always been a military fan and told me a few months ago he’s decided to be buried at
Despite the slogans of the jingoes, no one has their freedom because of the slaughter of women and children at
There’s a version of the chicken and egg question involving the military and the people who make it up. Certainly being in a war is a brutal dehumanizing experience which many veterans struggle with afterward, and they don’t get enough help from the country which subjected them to the experience. But I believe most people who choose to be in today’s military aren’t the best of people to begin with. I don’t know if there’s ever been a good war but there have certainly been some necessary wars. It’s been many decades since the
Who chooses to join the military under those conditions? Certainly a big percentage is poor and uneducated, seeking some way to escape their current place in life by any means. The ends don’t justify those means. Many volunteers may be naive believers. I’ve read that standards on accepting criminals have been relaxed in order to get enough warm bodies into uniform. Whatever the motivation, what kind of personality is required to be willing to travel around the world and kill people? I think people who join the military are far more likely to already be violent and aggressive than the type of people I admire. It’s true--I do not support the troops.
In the old days, like many hippies, I wore a flag. It was attached to the collar of an old army jacket and I wore it as a liner or cape depending on my mood. I wear a different flag today as I type and this time it’s a flag I actually believe in—a t-shirt of green, white, and blue with trees replacing the usual stars, and the phrase “in nature we trust”.
Here’s the quote of the day from today’s NY Times email. "People go ape when they see it. It’s a feeling. It’s a feeling that takes over a whole stadium. If anyone in the stands opened their mouth and objected, there would be hell to pay."--Jim Alexander, whose company, Superflag, creates field-size American flags for sporting events. Leaving aside the disparaging of our fellow apes, it seems Jim thinks the thought of beating or killing anyone who didn’t worship the flag is a cause for pride.
The other day someone was stunned when I told him I’ve never used a gun. In this area of hunting worship and military worship and flat out gun worship, he truly thought I was kidding him. Like giant flags and the implied threat of violence, I don’t think the country’s gun worship all the way up to the politicized highest court is anything to be proud of either. Neither is its lack of healthcare for all, nor the high number of its citizens in prisons or homeless, nor its greed and lack of responsibility to the world and the future, nor its general “every man for himself” attitude.
My country is not about flags, the illusion of never-ending growth, domination, wars, and guns. My country is about trees, wildlife, ecosystems, beauty, simplicity, humility, and respect. The only lines on a map which interest me indicate rivers, trails, and topography.
A few days ago new Pew poll results came out showing increased support for drilling for oil in ANWR as opposed to conservation in light of the increasing price of gasoline. Sixty percent consider increasing energy supplies more important than protecting the environment. I saved the article under the title Americans Are Assholes. These results are no surprise to me; I’ve always thought that in the end Americans will destroy every bit of beauty, kill off every species, and pollute every inch in order to go on living their lives of excess one day longer. In fairness, Americans may merely represent the ultimate expression of human nature. This wouldn’t be the first civilization to cut down the last tree on the island. And this is exactly why I have favored the collapse of industrialism and human die-off to much lower numbers as soon as possible. It’s the only hope my country and I have left.
Happy 163rd anniversary to the beginning of living at Walden. May we someday be that wise again.