The Currents of War

Every evening when I see the nightly news, I am deeply saddened and even shocked over the war which is being conducted in Ukraine by Russia under the leadership of Putin. I am incredulous at the loss of human life, comprised by Ukrainians who are mostly civilian. Watching rows of body bags being thrown into ditches and covered by dirt is infuriating as well as incredibly sad. Those bags contain someone’s Father, Mother, Grandparent, child, brother or sister, aunt or uncle. It may seem quite sanitized to see it in videos, or in photos, but to me it invokes the black and white images from a generation ago of the Nazi’s treatment of the Jews at the concentration camps all across Europe. During that war the entire world stepped up to combat those horrors…. although the United States was dragged into the war only because of the aggression of the Japanese at Pearl Harbor.

Now, we…. the United States of America, has the chance to defend another country in a situation which is as righteous as any I have seen in my lifetime. I cannot understand how politicians who voted to give President W. Bush the authority to wage an unrighteous war against Iraq, based on lies and innuendos, cannot now take the chance to defend another country which is being butchered by the Russians. Our current president was at the forefront of the authorization of then President Bush to go to war against Iraq. Thousands of civilians in Iraq were slaughtered by our military forces during that totally unnecessary and unrighteous war. Many hundreds were tortured and falsely imprisoned. Many lives of our soldiers were sacrificed in the sands of Iraq for the greed of a few politicians. We can never set that conflict right, but if we try, we can perhaps find some atonement for what we did then.

I realize we are pouring a lot of money into military aid for Ukraine. There have been billions authorized so far and the weapons are being sent there as fast as possible. I believe this has helped keep Russia from crushing Ukraine immediately. However, I don’t believe it will be enough in the long run. We will eventually be forced to directly confront Russia and Putin. I think we should do it sooner rather than later.

If I were a stone

If I were a stone of some type, I guess I would be a gravel. The kind they use in road paving, and to fill in mud holes. Utilitarian.

I could never be a gold nugget.

They are scarce and valuable. They are malleable and shapeable. They are extremely useful in so many things. Crowns of gold. Rings of gold that are used to bind promises of love.

Not a piece of silver.

A silver coin can lay in the ground for hundreds of years and then with a little polishing, can be as shiny as the day it was made. Silver is valuable. Circulateable.

Certainly never a diamond.

Shiny, hard and bright. A rare treasure. A stone to be cut and set in the most precious of objects. Jeweled scepters, and engagement rings for the stars.

No… Just gravel, with a coating of dust. Doing the job and getting it done. Filling the holes, paving the roads. Year after year.

I wouldn’t….I couldn’t, have it any other way.

My Requiem

To the night…sleep tight, all my loved ones and friends. Tomorrow we will find us a better day and maybe a better world. If not, let’s make the best of what we’ve got. Be kind to someone. Give if you can to those who have less than you. Hug and kiss your family. Love if you want to be loved.

And in your dreams tonight, may you find solace…and occasionally perhaps a glimpse of wisdom. You may find true love, conflict and maybe betrayal. You may dream the idea that changes the world, a new paradigm for a new age….but then awake, and forget it all. Dream well this night…

Most of all remember it is all temporary, it is time….our time. Use it wisely. As for me, perhaps I’ll take my own advice.

The way it was back then.

I thought about a lot of things today, I thought about how we are…our memories. Each of us a unique being with many shared experiences “remembered” differently.

Many days I’m flooded by those memories that belong to me, and I’m out of control and over emotional with the feel of them. Some days, they trickle in, and I am in better control of myself. Is anybody else like that? There are times I begin to write about times gone by, and I cannot finish. My train runs off of the track because tears….either of sorrow or of joy, blind me.

It becomes a bit messy and embarrassing sometimes.

As I rummaged through some old things today, and found some old writings of mine from school, I marveled at how far we have come since those days in the sixties.

I think about our old High School, and the fact that me and the people in my class were able to go to school in what was essentially a museum. We sat in old hardwood desks which still had the holes in the top where inkwells used to sit, so that the students could fill their pens from them. I’ve had some of those old ink jars over the years.

The old wooden floors in that school would creak and groan, as the bulk of students went out and back during classes. The old, huge windows had mechanisms inside them which assisted letting them up and down. Even the tile floors in the “new” wings of the school was the thick rubber vinyl stuff, which had to be coated in wax periodically, and buffed out in order to maintain them. I used to love that smell. I used to love the smell of the sanforized cloth that drifted across the Chattooga river from the mill and in through those big old windows. I used to love the clanking and banging of those old radiators during the cold winter months, as the steam poured into them.

In the first typing class I took, we all had the old “manual” typewriters, mainly Royals and Underwoods. Many, many times we would cross up, and hang up the keys during our exercises, and have to stop and untangle our mess. In my second year typing class we actually had a few new electric typewriters that plugged into the wall. Only the best students got to use those. I’m really thankful that Gary “Chocks” Clark talked me into taking that second year. It has been a gift through my entire life to have learned that skill. Many times I know I would not have “written” anything without that ability to “fly” over the keyboard. I’m sure a lot of people might wish I had taken shop instead.

We had the most unique and unusual gym in the state of Georgia in our town. It had an inside heated pool, a snack bar where you could get cooked little burgers and fries, and the best cokes. There was an upstairs basketball stadium…albeit quite small by today’s standards. We had a pool room, weight room, locker rooms, and various other sundry alcoves and inclusions. It had a movie theatre, and a staged theatre on one end also, although they closed those down very early along. I remember having our fifth year class reunion in that old gym in 1973, not long before they demolished it. What a wonderful place it was.

The most important and beautiful thing about those years, 1964 through 1968, were the people. Of course, I’m not going to sit here and say I loved everybody. That’d be a lie. However, for the most part, the people…my classmates and the “upper and underclass” students, were the lifeblood of the school in our little mill town. I wish I had time to go through and name each and every person with whom I remember going to school. I could do it if I had the time, or took the time, and could tell you a lot about some, but at least a little about most. Most of it would be good. Most of it would be joyful, some filled with a little regret….but, that’s the way of life itself, isn’t it?

I remember the ringing bells, the scurry of changing classes, the daily whispers….who’s dating who, who wants to go steady, who broke up today.

I remember the good teachers, the great teachers, and the ones….the very, very few…who didn’t like what they did, or who weren’t meant to be trying to do what they were doing. Those folks didn’t stay long, because our little school mainly attracted teachers who knew a good thing when they found it, and made a career in our school. I won’t try to name them all. Get out your annuals, and you’ll see their pictures. Mrs. Wingfield, Miss Bankey, Mrs. Myers, Mr. Jug Hayes, Mr. McCain, J.W. Greenwood, so many more. You’ll see yours too, my Facebook friends, because many of you were there. Many of you lived it with me. Many of you share these memories and those times. Most of us are still here, but some are gone.

It was pretty good, wasn’t it? Almost everything since then has also been good. As a whole, life’s been good to me.

Love you all.

The Pandemic

That’s What you get for Thinking. A Treatise on the Pandemic.

Back when I was a kid, I often had grand schemes that I would think up. Sometimes good ideas, sometimes a little “hair brained” Just when I thought things were going well, something would happen and the “grand” idea would fall through. When that happened, and I told my Daddy about it he’d just look at me and shake his head and say: “Well, that’s what you get for thinking” Honestly, he wasn’t getting on to me for thinking. It was more about counting my eggs before they hatched, or about being too arrogant or overconfident. I have that irritating trait in my nature and it occasionally overcomes my logical approach to things.

I thought I had a logical approach to the golden years of retirement.

I honestly thought my “golden years” were going to be filled with good times with my family, taking care of the grand kids, going to ballgames, dances, and school functions with the little grand-kids and their parents. I think being around the family and doing things with them was my ultimate goal. It was because of them that I came through four bypasses in 2010. At one point in the first couple of days, the pain was so bad I thought I just wanted to let go. But my wife and my kids….they gave me a reason to go on. I went through a long recovery and only started to really exercise, walk, and watch my weight in late 2004. I decided I wanted to live a few more years. Was that being selfish? I didn’t think so at the time. I was on Ancestry a lot during those years and I saw where a lot of my ancestors died young. Got to be about 60 years old and “BOOM” Gone. It was only through the work of the medical and scientific communities that they had a method by the time I needed it to “patch me up” enough to keep on living. I appreciate it so very much. I appreciate what those doctors and nurses did for me. I appreciate my family helping me hold on. I’m thankful to them all.

But…back to the “golden” years. I “thought” that things would go on as they always have. Work most of the year, maybe take a couple of weeks off….go on a vacation with the family. Be around the kids and help with them. Do my “trade day” thing every couple of weeks or so. Go out to eat at Logan’s or one of our other favorite spots on Saturdays. Cracker Barrel on Sunday. All that stuff. Ordinary stuff. To me it was just “every day” life. Taking that “every day” life for granted was a big mistake. Look at where we all are now. Not just us, me and the wife….but all of the Grandma and Grandpa’s out there who love their families and want to be with them, to see them and be around them. To love, and sometimes fuss over them. To live our lives “normally”. Normally….all of you my friends wanted that also, I know.

But now, there is no “normal” like that anymore. Only the new normal. The quarantine normal. The self-isolation normal. (and thank God for my wife who keeps me sane)

“Thought you were going to glide on through those golden years, huh?” I can hear Tarp Bowers’ voice in my head. “Well that’s what you get for thinking”. And….honestly, he’s right.

How did I dare assume that there would be an in place continued normal for humanity? What gall on my part! I’ve been warning people about stuff like this for years, and it turns out that I didn’t pay attention to my own warnings. “Mother Earth will get us back, “ I said. I never expected the nasty, evil stealth of this disease that has hit us though. I never expected anything which could separate human beings so totally from the natural tendency to be the social animals we have evolved into. A sickness that has never, ever been inside a human body before in the entire history of all humanity! An alien invasion not from outer space, but from within our own world.

Now, I look up at the window and talk to my granddaughters Evie and Ellie…and their Daddy, through a screen 10 ft away. I talk to my youngest son while he’s up on the deck and I’m way down below. I await “drive by’s” from my daughter and her family….my oldest son and his family. I haven’t seen my first granddaughter since Christmas. Watched my second granddaughter who’s graduating from college this year, get married via phone video. The new normal.

Yet, I am lucky. I am so, so very lucky. I can still do these things. I still have hope that our family unit will all get through these hard times all in one piece, so that we may come together….all together again.

Daddy used to look at me at times like these and say: “Alright, quit feeling sorry for yourself”. I’m not really….. Well maybe I am. Maybe we all are a little, and if so it’s really OK to feel that way. It’s just that this new normal is so damn abnormal for me. I’m hunkered down now and resigned to staying put for a long spell. I’m learning new things, and relearning old ones. I’m storing up hugs, tears, and love for the day I’ll be able to use them again. I hope and pray that it will be soon for all of us. God bless, stay home and stay safe.

Worth a Thought

Worth a thought?

…suppose the souls of all the women who were ever burned at the stake as witches, or for heresy, were to rise in anger from their graves and seek revenge on the descendants of those who murdered them or caused them to be killed?

…or if all of the ghosts of the Shamans and Elders, and the Chiefs of all the first people who lived in the Americas were to magically become zombies, like the ones in “the Walking Dead” and seek retribution for the diseases which decimated them, or the soldiers who cut down their woman and children left alone in their villages.

…imagine the fear which would fill the wind if the spirits of all the lynched slaves, all of the abused and tortured Africans and their children, could haunt the dreams of the offspring of those who caused that terrible and awful abuse.

..what if the Earth itself is silently plotting our demise because of all that we have done to harm her? The scars we have permanently left upon the land, and the species which no longer exist…many simply because they got in our way, or because we could easily exploit and manipulate them. Many died due to our greed.

why are we like this? At what point in human history did we decide that treating other humans as animals was ok, and that treating animals like dirt was our “right”, and that treating our home like it is disposable is even remotely wise? Why do those of us who do not want these things to be so, give power to those who have no remorse or conscience?

I believe that people who care about not letting the terrible things which have plagued our history happen again, should exercise our right to treat those who would do them as criminals and outcasts…. not as leaders. We don’t need destroyers as leaders, we don’t need the self-righteous as our teachers, we need builders of consensus and cooperation. We need people of compassion and love. We need healers.

Can we find them soon enough?

I look to the future generations and hope. I look to the babies who are crawling and toddling for wisdom. I dream of technology which is yet to come for assistance. My time remaining here is short, and my answer is that I am sorry that I have not done enough.

Many people say we should not worry about the deeds of our forefathers, what’s past is past, but every time I look out of my window into the deep woods behind my house, I hear the whispers in the wind, the soft crying in the breeze, the deep anger in the thunder and lightning, and I wonder if those people who want to forget about history are right or wrong.