Saturday, January 21, 2017

January 21: You Dumb Bastard, Militarism, Bleeding Heart

"Saved your life again, you dumb bastard," Weary said to Billy in the ditch.  He had been saving Billy's life for days, cursing him, kicking him, slapping him, making him move.  It was absolutely necessary that cruelty be used, because Billy wouldn't do anything to save himself.  Billy wanted to quit.  He was cold, hungry, embarrassed, incompetent.  He could scarcely distinguish between sleep and wakefulness now, on the third day, found no important differences, either, between walking and standing still.

He wished everybody would leave him alone.  "You guys go on without me," he said again and again.

Billy Pilgrim isn't stupid.  He's naive, hasn't seen much in the world.  I think a lot of guys who fought in World War II were Billy Pilgrims.  Young and inexperienced.  Barely out of high school.  And they were given guns and sent across the globe to fight enemy Billy Pilgrims.  Most of them young and scared shitless.

I had a talk with my daughter about militarism last night.  She has been debating with her friends from school about the transition from sanity to insanity in Washington, D.C.  She is in the minority among her peers.  She's thoughtful, accepting, compassionate, and rational.  She was telling me how her friends believe that an increase in military spending in the United States will somehow make the world a better place.

I admire war veterans and the sacrifices they have made for the cause of freedom.  Every Veteran's Day and Memorial Day, I attend services with my family because I think it's important to honor those sacrifices.  The Billy Pilgrims deserve our gratitude and respect. My daughter understands this, as well.

I want the world to be safe for Billy and Milly Pilgrims.  I don't want to have innocent young men and women dying because political leaders are trying to make a point.  I don't think my daughter's friends understand this.  I am old enough to remember the last years of the Vietnam War.  I remember the black armbands and casualty reports on the nightly news.  The military recruiters calling my newly graduated brothers, trying to convince them to enlist.

The world is not going to be a safer place if we build bigger and better weapons.  Because then others will build bigger and better weapons.  It's an unending cycle.  Then, suddenly, someone decides to pull the trigger, and triggers start getting pulled all over the world.  And Billy and Milly Pilgrims, our sons and daughters, will die.

So, call me a liberal, bleeding heart bastard.  Call my daughter a liberal, bleeding heart bastard.  I will always err on the side of compassion, common sense, love, and acceptance.

Today, Saint Marty is grateful for the men and women who have fought and died for peace and freedom.

For my daughter's friends . . .

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