Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Disconnect (in the key of 'me')

I wanted to follow up on the God Bless America post. I began by writing an essay that only enlarged the gaps I was trying to bridge. I realize the fatal flaw was that every time I typed "I..." and then "they..." I was pushing us all farther apart. And then I realized I had no right to speak for "them" anyway. I can only speak for myself.

And so here are some first-person sentences that might help explain why I come at politics, the government and the church from where I do. These are not 'why I am right' statements; they are more 'why I see things the way I see them' statements.

I was born in 1970. I am 36 years old.

I learned about the Greatest Generation mainly from history books, my grandfather's stories, Memorial Day parades and now I am humbled to hear them from the few WWII vets in my congregation.

The history books taught me that Hitler gained his power because sanctions had the German people so oppressed that they were willing to follow anyone. I wonder why instead of sanctions we don't try to change the world with education and food... the sanctions do not seem to work to me.

My grandfather was heavily involved in the Berlin Airlift. He spoke proudly of this.

My aunts and uncles and parents and their friends lost classmates in the Vietnam war. They talked about them in hushed tones or not at all.

I was born AFTER the men landed on the moon. That means there is no moment in my childhood memory where we sat around the television and rooted for America in anything other than the Olympics.

I was born after Kennedy was assasinated and during Nixon. All inherent trust of the government was long gone by the time I was paying attention.

The first president I remember anything about is Jimmy Carter. My first political memories are of people dying in long gas lines and a hostage crisis.

I remember Jimmy Carter being ridiculed and then he went and made houses. I remember Ronald Reagan being heralded and then he went and made millions.

I grew up in the age of attack ads and politicians clearly telling you anything you wanted to hear in order to get your vote. Then they just do what their big corporate donors tell them to.

My television father was Mr. Brady. He died of AIDS.
This does not directly related to the disconnect between myself and other generations when it comes to America's military actions but it does explain in a nutshell why I have issues with any authority figures who are put up on a pedestal for me to blindly follow. I figure they are all hiding something.

I never had to even remotely consider going into the military in order to better my education, career or life.

I never sat in a foxhole with bullets whizzing over my head.

I never had to convince myself that what I was doing was 100% right in order to justify the gun I was carrying and my willingness to shoot it at another human being.

I have always seen clearly the distinction between those who go to serve in a war and those who make the decision that they have to go. The latter group never has to go themselves and their children usually do not have to go either.

I too sat around my television set on September 11, 2001 and wanted to kick some ass.

I paid attention when things started moving towards Iraq and I listened when the president told us about there being weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

I thought there might be other ways to go but I talked with others about the concept of 'just war.'

I feel STRONGLY that this administration lied to us on purpose - it was not a mistake - and that hurts worse than Mr. Brady dying of AIDS.

I am weary of high government officials not being held accountable for their actions and decisions. I am held accountable for my actions so how come the man who gave us the 'bad information' about the phantom wmd's was given the Congressional Medal of Freedom, the highest award that can be given to a civilian?

I am humbled by those who have served in the military. I could never do it.

I am humbled by those who waited (and still wait) for their sons/daughters, husbands/wives, fathers/mothers to come home. I have never had to do it.

I support those who are serving in the military right now.

I do not support the war.

I have learned the mistakes of the Vietnam generation and I can say those two previous sentences with no conflict.

I believe that God bless America is a request, not a given.


apstraight said...

Wow. You have a strong voice. Thank you for sharing it.

reverendmother said...

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is effin' brilliant.

I am right with you on every statement, except I am 34.

By the way, you "post older." I was thinking 40-ish!

Girl said...

My parents never really talked about politics when I was growing up...and I never paid attention to anybody other than myself (typical, selfish drama queen)when I was growing up. So until I moved to Boston, I never really understood or cared about what was going on politically. But even I, very quickly, was able to do my part and educate myself beyond what the news media tells me and beyond what my church friends blindly support and develop my own ideas about what makes me sad and what keeps me hopeful in our society today.

What strikes me the most is how quickly I can become angry at people who don't see things my way...which I am convinced is the right way. Then I start to think that is the same mentality those who think differently have against me and now we are all walking around angry instead of working together to do something great.

But the more the media continues to separate the 'sides' to such an extent that we are like opposing sides of magnets, the more people will fight harder to disagree and stay on 'their side', instead of focusing on what we can all do if we come together.

Working together and accomplishing great things doesn't have to be a hippie-esque, free-lovin', responsibility shirking, cheesy, never-gonna-happen concept. And then again, so what if it is...

cheesehead said...

I'm alittle older, but I'm right there with you, point for point.

F'in brilliant, indeed.

peripateticpolarbear said...

Funny, RM, I was thinking she posts younger---I was guessing barely 30. Go figure.

Anyway, your final line is amazing.

will smama said...

Okay, on the age thing I am actually 35 but the next birthday is close enough so I skewed older.

I will take both of your guesses as a compliment although I will have to work harder at one than the other.

Girl, a lot of good thoughts there. Now just imagine all of that with the added fire of church politics.

the reverend mommy said...

Good stuff -- that I will be never able to say in my current appointment. (republican with a capital "R").

And I will never be a Democrat either -- in fact, I figure that anyone who WANTS to be a politician is demented somehow.

I don't think they all lied -- to begin with. I think that they had really really bad information, but then didn't tell the truth about *that* because it makes them look bad ... in other word, a little integrity would have gone a LONG way.

And now, people have become so entrenched in their position that none will bend.

You are right -- the "I" and "them" is hard to avoid.

will smama said...

Rev. Mommy - I think your second paragraph is exactly the point. My Red constituents think I am Blue, but really I just think our government needs a major do-over.

Campaign managers even on the local level are hired to manipulate public opinion, not highlight what the politicians would actually like to do.

The whole thing is just too far gone.

As for the lie... I think there was a definite agenda, THEN 9/11 that allowed an opening to achieve that agenda quicker than without an attack on American soil, and then a manipulation of nonfacts, innuendo and guesses in order to rally the American people to get behind the agenda.

Sue said...

This is a great post. I am hesitant to comment because I'm Canadian, but suffice it to say that I'm in agreement with you here.

juniper68 said...

Ok, I'm a little weepy 'cause it's the full moon and all, but this really brought tears to my eyes. You have totally put your finger on it. (Or, "Good use of I statements, as we used to say in seminary....ha!)

I think they lied, too.

I'm 37 and a half.

And I, for one, want to hear what the Canadians have to say.

Sue said...

I guess I just wonder if it's really my place to comment. It's not like our government is perfect either...

But, for what it's worth, I think you got snookered. They (as in Dubya et al) needed a reason to blast up Iraq and so they made one up. There is no connection between 9/11 and Iraq, but the White House said it enough times that folks started believing it.

The cost of that tragic decision to go to war cannot be measured -- all those lives lost on both sides. It just makes me really sad.

Lorna said...

I'm not American. I'm 46. and I loved what you write here.

Bless [our nation] is a request, and it happens by the grace of God, usually related at some level to whether we worship Him (more than with lip service) and obey.

Thank you for bravely standing up and saying "here is where I am"