Hi, welcome to my blog page, where I get to ramble on about nothing in particular, or what comes to mind about a particular subject. Read on.
Children are curious things when you think about it. A sperm and an egg get together, and nine months later, this little pink, wriggling bundle of joy is delivered into your nervous hands. You change it, bath it, feed it and love it, until suddenly you are chasing it around the house trying to keep it out of trouble. How did that happen? A moment ago, you were breast-feeding, or walking around in the middle of the night, trying to get it to stop crying and go to sleep, so you could. Or, holding your arms out for it to take it first tentative step. You know on one level it’s growing, you just didn’t notice when. You watch it exploring its universe, poking and prodding, stretching the envelope of its little world. Then one day someone taps you on the shoulder and asks you for the car keys, and for a split second, you look around, wondering where your little baby went. Then it dawns on you, the person walking out the front door with your car keys is that little baby. How did it happen, when did he or she grow up to be a person?
Sometimes you watch them, seeing their little quirks and mannerisms, smiling as you do, seeing yourself, or your parents, wondering where the little smile or pout came from. Gradually you add layers of information on them, one on top of the other. Some take, others not, and you don’t know if they took it in or not. Then they surprise you by asking the damnedest question about something you’d long forgot, or they had overheard. You look at them and wonder what they will be when they ‘grow up’. Will they be an Einstein, or a super athlete, change the world in some way? In the end, you just hope they will grow up to be a good person, and not end up on drugs, on the street or in jail. At some point, you knew they would start to think their own thoughts, generating their own ideas, likes and dislikes. As they develop, you wonder, did I spend enough time with them? Did I pay attention when they asked a question? Or, did I just brush it off with some flip answer?, too tired or distracted by life to really answer. All these things go into the mix of who they are and what they will become. What did you say or didn’t say to influences their lives one way or another. Could you have done better by taking more or less time with them? After a while, you realize somewhere in the process of growing up they became their own person, and it’s too late to change who they are or what they will be. Without even really seeing it, they have become someone with their own mind, independent of you, able to make their own decision about the world around them. There is a certain sadness in realizing they will no longer hold your hand, no longer seek your guidance, or cry on your shoulder over some lost love, and you are no longer be the center of their universe. In many ways, they are the sum total of all you have taught them, for good or bad. Schools adds layers of information, both in and out of the classroom to what they know, over which you have little or no control. Agree or disagree with the school system, the law tells you they have to be ‘educated’. But how much of that will influence the person they will become?
Parents from time immemorial must have wondered the same thoughts as I, seeing that small bundle of life growing up before them, and been just as surprised at how quickly they turn from a baby into a full-grown person. Then you laugh as you see the same things happening again, only this time to someone else, usually to the child you just raised. Children are such a wonder, so full of limitless potential and possibilities. All any of us as parents can do, is our best, love them, and try to open as many doors for them as possible. The end result is in their hands, not yours. Whether they will fulfill some hidden wish or dream, or disappoint you is far beyond your control, but maybe it always was, and you just didn’t realize it.
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Observations on War:
Native American’s use to say, ‘white man talk with forked tongue’. On one side, there is the ‘Official’ Position. That’s the one you hear about on the six o’clock news, social media, religious center, or the equivalent, depending on which side you are on, that tell you innumerable reasons why our people have to go somewhere to kill other people. The news media speaks incessantly about it, calling it a ‘just’ war, or a war on, or against something, manifest destiny, or some distorted religious perspective on the world. They have expert talking heads, politicians and religious leaders to back up this or that position. They have graphs, charts, statistics, sound bites, biblical quotes from one religious book or another, legal experts, and photo footage. All in living color with stirring music in the background for dramatic effect. Yet, behind it there is another reason, one they don’t talk about in public. One these leaders whisper to each other in small groups in private meetings. This is the conspiracy, and the real reason we go out and kill each other, not the one ‘Bagdad Bob’ and others of his ilk speak about from ‘official’ podiums, whether it be a political, religious or social medium.
There is no record or official documentation of those secret conversations, only vehement denial they ever took place. They shout down and ridicule anyone who dares to say different, or call them conspiracy nuts, traitors or lunatics, the ‘tin foil’ hat brigade. But? Is it so crazy? What prompted the current wars in the mid-east? Or Putin taking over the Crimea region of the Ukraine? One side attacks the other and they responded in kind, as in so many wars. Yet is it as simple as that? Or is there another, hidden agenda with different objectives? Look at any ‘war’, no matter what the politicians call it, and ask yourself why it was fought. What was the objective and who profited, and how? Was it for territory, money, power, oil, personal ambition, greed, megalomania, fanaticism, ideology, land, or just plain vanity? Mostly we will never know, only that a lot of people died, the innocent and the guilty alike before it over.
There is no easy answer to the question of why we fight wars. Up until the latter part of the 19th century, most of our wars were to gain territory, resources, access to ports in strategic locations, or access to foreign markets. Mostly, they were between individual countries, and before the turn-of-the-century empires building by one nation or another. Whether it be the Egyptians, the Greeks, Romans, Turks, England or the Americans, all wanted to gain as much territory and power over the other people of those territories as possible. Then came the so-called religious wars of the Middle Ages, Christianity fighting Islam, Protestant fighting Catholic, all fighting for the hearts and minds of the conquered people, slaughtering those that disagreed with their particular ideology, much as the religious fanatics are doing today. As barbaric as many of those wars were, they paled in comparison to the slaughter of the First and Second World War, where a hundred thousand men died in one battle alone, compared with the 58,000 or so men and woman who died in Viet Nam over 14 years of war, oh excuse me, the ‘police action’. Looking back, you have to ask yourself the question of why we fought the war in the Viet Nam or the mid-east. Was it to stop the spread of communism, or get rid of Saddam Hussein? Or was it more about protecting America’s oil interest in Saudi Arabia? In addition, why, who or what exactly are our young men dying for in Afghanistan?
Is any war worth the cost in human life? Some would say yes, others no. They say that some wars need to be fought, and looking back in history, I can’t say that I disagree. Maybe it’s in our genes, but more I think it’s built into our system of education and government. As the poem said …go tell the Greeks passer by, that by Spartan law here we lie… We have perpetuated a culture of war since time immemorial, glorifying in our victories even since man first waged war against another. We enshrine it in our culture, our games, sports, TV shows, movies, and video games, spending countless billions of Dollars, Pound, Rubles, Marks, and Yen on perfecting better way to kill our fellow man. Now we have the ability to wipe out ever man, woman, and child on this planet many times over at the push of a button. If that happens, we will finally have worldwide peace at last. When asked what the next world war would be fought with, Einstein answered that he didn’t know. He said he did know what the fourth world war would be fought with. Sticks and stones.
The answer, I believe is that we like to fight. We are a killer species, the strong dominating the weak. From the schoolyard bully to the insane brutality of ISIS. From the Friday night football to the all out conflict of war. No matter how many millions of our fellow human beings we kill, soldier, civilian, men, woman, children, the old, and the young, there always seems to be another potential leader waiting in the wings to start the killing all over again. They all have perfectly sane, at least from their point of view, reasons to start killing, as if the 38 million people who died in World War I and an estimated that 85,000,000 in World War II both military and civilian weren’t enough. Yet those numbers pale into insignificance if we unleash nuclear or biological weapons on each other, which some of these leaders have threatened to do. This time the death toll would be in the billion, and might even mean the end of the human race itself.
To our children sitting in stuffy classroom listening to some boring lesson about history, those facts are just numbers in some dog-eared book they have to remember for the next exam, rather than the horror and carnage they imply. All blithely going down the same path as their parents and grandparents trod, and being told the same lies and half-truths to keep them pliant and willing to do the bidding of their leaders. They too will march off to war singing patriotic songs with their heads full of dreams of glory. The truth is there is nothing glorious about war, just the brutally of killing another human being, or seeing friends and love ones die. My only hope is that our childhood will end soon, before we kill ourselves off, and that we can put away the implements of war forever.