What I want for Christmas: a satellite, a force field, peace…

Someone asked what I want for Christmas, so here’s a list:

photo of satellite
Eye in the sky, image by PIRO4D from Pixabay 
  • My own spy satellite.
  • A force field around my bicycle to repel motor vehicles. (Two if you can swing it. One for me and one for Mrs. Smith.)
  • Peace on Earth.
  • A massive worldwide reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2020.
  • A non-criminal POTUS.
  • Everyone to know the difference between tenet and tenant.
  • An end to the senseless arguments about Harvard commas, which we all know are just regular commas that are often used when they’re unnecessary.

Please be sure to reply to all so everyone knows what you’re getting me. I don’t want two satellites and no Peace on Earth.

Write on,

B.J.

Robert E. Lee as tragic figure?

Not too long ago I started following more conservatives on Twitter and reading—or trying to read—articles that might help me understand them better.

This article caught my attention today, in no small part because of my recent renewal of interest in the song that it features:

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

I’ve always liked the song but had never before reflected very deeply on its meaning. It is moving and tragic and, as that article in The American Conservative said, it is sad. I re-read the quote from a Wikipedia page that the writer cited just a couple of days ago.

The AC article was interesting but ultimately a disappointment as it tries to get the reader to sympathize with Southerners and their “shame-honor” culture. I was buying it all until this part of the article:

Robert E. Lee embodies the tragedy of the American South: he was the best military man in America — remember that Lincoln offered him command of the Union Army — and wanted to keep the Union together.

Never mind that others say Lee’s flaws and bad decisions were key to the defeat of the Confederacy. Never mind that he so wanted to keep the Union together than he went to war to destroy it. He “wept tears of blood” over the decision, the article says. How many shed real blood in those years and how many died in that war?

To position Lee as the embodiment of that tragedy is a grievous insult to the memory of the millions of enslaved human beings that he and his army fought to keep enslaved.

While touching and sad, the AC article’s portrayal of white Southerners as helplessly and hopelessly loyal to family and place by virtue of their Scots-Irish cultural heritage reads like a lame excuse for owning slaves and going to war to keep them. My own Irish roots are rather deep, but I have never heard anyone in my extended family, or anyone else for that matter, lionize Irishmen who killed innocents with car bombs the way Lee has been idolized in the land of cotton.

Lee made his choice, and calling it honorable is to pervert the very meaning of the word.

But, the song…

Again and again in recent weeks I’ve watched and listened to the video that turned up in the AC article, the one of The Band performing the song about “the night.” I don’t see it as glorifying the rebels or Lee or even the war, although I understand why some might. It is about terrible loss in more than one sense and, if anything, a reflection of the tragedy that is war.

I always wonder about the seven words one of the musicians says just before the music starts:

“It’s not like it used to be.”

In some ways it is, in some ways it isn’t.

An open text from out there

boy-958478_1920b

We see you.

You are what your Anglos call “humans.”
We can tell by the way you move about
and the noises that you make.

You build machines that fly
to nearby planets and machines
that kill your own species.

Your home teems with sustenance,
yet many wither and die
as other humans thrive.

You seek other life
yet don’t know
how to live your own.

We wait to see you open your eyes,
then maybe you will see us.


First launched on Medium, August 13, 2016

What do I want for Father’s Day?

For as long as I’ve been at this business of being a father, you would think the question would get easier to answer. It’s tougher than it looks. It is tougher than ever.

My wife and children have already given me everything I need. They don’t stop.

What do I want?

What I want is the same as every other day.

jupiter_ganyA cure for cancer.

A cure for Alzheimer’s Disease.

An end to these dreadful politics.

Relief from my country’s addiction to guns and violence.

Love, not war.

I want Jupiter to align with Mars.

That’s all.

 

Someone is wearing those “boots on the ground”

The term “boots on the ground” is popular among the politicians and talking heads who increasingly and disturbingly adopt military-sounding lingo while discussing our participation in deadly violence around the world.

Its four syllables (and worse, the lazy acronym you can see on Twitter) make it shorter than the more precise and honest “America’s sons and daughters” who wear the boots that some are so eager to put on the ground.

If you want to send your fellow citizens off to kill and be killed on your behalf, say it clearly.