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.