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June 11, 2006

Notes from the edge

I have my daily must-read blogs on rss feed, and this morning I'm not getting the "no posts for the past three days" blurb for Jeff Harrell. Good lord, that man could post about grass growing and I'd swoon at his prose. I kept starting to compose a response to his May 23 one, but it kept coming out too "lecturey" and not what I wanted to say, I disagree with you, but I understand and honor your thoughts and feelings.

Now, I don't for one minute buy that Jeff hasn't been writing all this time.

But that’s not why I stopped writing, is it? It couldn’t have been. I stopped long before last weekend.
He hasn't been posting, true. But a word artist no more stops writing than a music composer or painter or sculpter stops their creating just because they turn away from their medium of choice for a time. While the muse may take a sabbatical, she is never far. Whether or not you pick up the paint brush or put fingers to the keyboard, her return will not be denied and she'll just fill up the empty spaces in your head until you let it spill out.
Look, here’s the deal: I think the world’s gone crazy. It’s happened slowly, so slowly that hardly anybody noticed. And for a long time, the only people who did notice were the people who always say the world’s going crazy, so who the hell cares what they think? But be that as it may, the world has gone cuh-rayzee.
Dear, the world has "not gone crazy." The world is rarely sane. The world is a homeless schizophrenic who occassionally ends up in the hospital, raving and near death, gets back on meds, cleans up, feels great and, after a brief period, thinks the meds are the problem and tosses them aside.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Come on, people. I’m no more a fan of Wowie Zarqawi than anybody. I didn’t lose a single wink of sleep when I heard that he’d been killed by American bombs. Live by the sword, die by the GPS-guided cruise missile, I always say.

But justice? That’s not justice. That’s justified homicide. It’s an exigency of war, to be sure, and I’m certainly not saying that it was either morally or legally wrong to do it. But it ain’t justice, people. The day we start calling the summary execution of people by high-altitude precision bombing “justice,” we might as well just tear out all the pages from all the books that have been written in the past four centuries on the actual meaning of the term and start over.

For about six summers running, when my girls were little, I hosted Japanese exchange students. They had come to America for six weeks to stay with American families to hone their conversational English skills. It's not always easy; for the first couple of weeks you carry around your English/Japanese dictionary and the two of you will have your heads together over it as you point out the words to best express what you're trying to say. But you both have the same goal, to try and find those common words and phrases to best express what you truly mean.

Too much of the political commentary in contemporary America is people, innocently or deliberately, speaking past each other; just as if we were speaking two different languages. Especially if we are dealing with the legal "language" and moral "language." They overlap, but they are two different realms. It is actually a subject I have written about in depth from time to time on this blog.

"Justice" is a word that has both a legal and a moral dimension.

Jeff is correct that Zarqawi didn't receive legal justice. But morally? There are some behaviors so egregious, so heinous, that one morally forfeits their right to live.

Moral justice was served.

Jeff does make an excellent observation on security vs bureacracy via TSA. No arguments there. However, this kind of approach has been around for 30+ years. When hijack-fly-to-cuba stuff happened in the 70's, metal detectors were put in, hijacking faded away and everyone figured shuffling people through a metal detector was enough. Even that screening didn't exist prior to the 70's. I was five y/o in 1959 when I was with my parents to pick up my grandparents at LAX when they flew in from Hawaii. LAX was surrounded by a whole lot of nothing, the ocean in clear view, and we actually walked out onto the tarmac as the passengers came down the stairs rolled to the sides of the planes. Security at airports? You might as well ask why seatbelts were not even standard equipment on cars at the time.

The world was pretty much on its meds post WWII. Or just too exhausted. Okay, there were the demon voices jabbering across the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe ... Berlin 1948/49, Hungary 1954, Czechoslovakia 1968 ... America especially tried to ignore the voices, tossing itself into boom times of family, suburbia, education and optimism.

But sanity and peace are not the norm. The struggle between idealism and reality is part of the human condition.

As the willingness on the part of the American people to set illegal immigrants as scapegoat for all our country’s problems has waned, it’s time once again to haul out that old tried-and-true, gay marriage.
That only makes sense if one believes there is no sincerity or legitimacy on the part of people who argue that unchecked illegal immigration is a threat to the ideal of national sovereignty or that the redefinition of an important social institution is both radical and should not be up to judges.
Do you have any idea how uncomfortable it is, how chilling, for a guy like me to feel like he’s the sanest person in the room? Have our standards fallen so low? Has the world gone so mad as all that?
Time to retreat to the patio for a smoke and a ice cold drink, preferably one with lots of rum and an umbrella in it. Look out over landscape, tall trees, rooftops, anonymous cars moving from one destination to another. The people you know are down there ... the couples making love, the parents yelling for their kids to come in for dinner, the kids struggling over homework or asking to stay up past bedtime, the pimply-faced teen delivering pizza and the grandma sitting down to another dinner for one since her husband passed away. That's life in the micro, while so many of us chew ourselves up over life in the macro.

Take another drag, then a long cool sip, and when returning to the room remember some of the people are sincere, some are not, and the trick is to engage the first and ignore the latter.

And if you wish only to write about grass growing, Jeff?

I'll still be here to read it.

Posted by Darleen at June 11, 2006 10:43 AM