May 12-17, 2005
our German cousins
There was a time when strangers were welcome here
Music would play, they tell me the days were sweet and clear
It was a sweeter tune and there was so much room that people…
could come from Everywhere.
This day in May, 2005 I am preparing for a wake.
Here’s what I did last year with my 401k “retirement” money: pulled it all out of the market and blew it all on taking the kids to Europe. Fact is, I’m never going to “retire,” even if I wanted to. I’m going to end up dying in the saddle, just like the Old Man. Spending my dotage tottering (or wheeling) about the lawn of my stately McMansion isn’t in the cards.
Oh yeah… the Wake. Who died?
My Nation, perhaps… and I’m not sure when it happened. I just looked around and She was gone. It seemed like She would live forever… like a kindly old aunt who sends you crisp small bills in birthday cards. I told the kids stories about Her. I even took them for a visit one time… to the Sacred Ground of Gettysburg, the Wall in Washington DC. That was years ago.
They’re growing up fast, the kids.
Pretty soon, they’ll be fully grown and starting their own lives. My babies are now contrary teenagers, and while I mumble and scowl at their piercings and pink hair (like an old man should), I admire their moxie. Years ago, I wanted to manage my “investments” wisely so I could send them to college to “compete in today’s competitive environment.” What a joke.
Checking my “investments,” I began to feel like Yosarrian
in Catch-22 finding Milo Minderbinder’s IOUs in the medical cabinet. I learned Snowden’s secret. This metaphor is meaningless to anyone who hasn’t read “Catch-22,” and those who have can work the rest of it for themselves. If this life is all there is, then understanding the journey is far more important than the destination.
So the best “investment” I could think of
was taking the kids to see where they came from: “Old Europe.” I wanted them to see other cultures and hear many languages and feel what it’s like to walk the streets of a big old city without being afraid of being robbed or arrested. I wanted them to eat real food and see what happens when people experience a real war. We could still see the damage.
This year I want the kids to see
where they may be going. We are “looking for America.” But “ America” is a continent, and “Country” has become a kitschified collection of geegaws, yellow ribbons, hype and lies. Our Nation is more… it’s the dream of immigrants like my simple German Great-grandparents. These days their dream seems so simple and sweet, but they found it. They lived it.
Their Hessian home looked like a fairyland
compared to the stark mudflat of Indiana where they came, found a regular job, worked at it for over 40 years and died after their life of work was finished. It doesn’t sound like much, but they escaped the princes who used them as pawns. They made a modest living in peace and relative safety. That’s all they ever wanted, and maybe… just maybe… their children could do better.
Now the princes use us as pawns.
Our work is no longer secure. There are wars, rumors of wars, and the “church” has become a corrupt arm of the state. Maybe there is a place in our Land where people are still free from want and fear. We’re going to look for it, but I’m afraid we’ll just be “viewing the body.” I could be wrong. We’ll see. The “truth” can still be found if you know where and how to seek it.
In his May 2005 essay, “One of These Days,”
William Rivers Pitt has said, “The frustration I feel personally knowing that I and everyone else are being deliberately deceived and misdirected is topped by only one thing: The rage, horror and sorrow I feel when I finally do manage to carve through the crap and get to the truth. Because the truth, friends and neighbors, is so much worse than you can possibly imagine.
Today we read puff pieces
, not poetry or essays, and we look for entertainment, not truth. I share Pitt’s apprehension. I fear we will be strangers in our own land, flotsam in the revenue stream for carneys or criminals. Worse, we may be taken for “terrorists” because we wish to cross borders in search of the truth. Truth-tellers, even truth-seekers have become strangers in our current country and culture.
There was a time when strangers were welcome here.