Open Thread - 09-23-22 - Reflections
What would our ancestors think of us now?
All of history, millennia actually, is held within these precious moments in time. Held in suspension like an overburdened tear drop, straining from the weight of it's own making. Could any of our predecessors have envisioned our modern world, as it is foreign terrene even to ourselves. I don't know, maybe they could, but I doubt it. Hell, I can't believe it myself.
I came of age in the chaos of the late 60s, an era of change, much like today. It was an existential time, as it is today, for a young man about to reach the age when the government could reach out and rapture you up and spit you out in a jungle in southeast Asia. We were conditioned for that time when it was our turn to serve the empire, our archetypal duty to society, post WW II and Korea. I had been trained for that since the mid 50s, at birth. The television, the movies, the magazines, the comic books, were our teachers. I got a special taste of it in my mid teens.
I went to high school in a small town in northern Illinois from 1968 to 1972. It was a particularly tumultuous time, both in my life and in the life of the nation. Around that time I was introduced to The Chicago Seed, an underground newspaper. The Seed, the coverage of the Vietnam war on the nightly news, friends, and weed changed me from the jock I was to the anti war activist that I became. There was one other factor that helped in that transition, our high school military program.
There were only a hand full of high schools across the nation that had a military program that wasn't ROTC affiliated. My high school was one of those. The program started after WW I and ended in the early 70s, right after I finished high school. We males had to participate in military class every Thursday through our sophomore and junior years. If we didn't participate then we weren't allowed to graduate. We also had to attend a military review at the end of the year for those two years, where we had to march around in the gym in front of our parents. Again if you didn't attend the military review you weren't allowed to graduate. There were exemptions but they were hard to get.
In the class we had to dress in military uniforms that were provided for us, we called them monkey suits. We had to learn how to march in cadence, flip rifles around in all the various positions, the proper way to salute, how to take commands, you know, all that brain washing stuff.
There were ranks, our squad leader went on to a full military career. The conditioning worked on some of my friends as well, they joined the service after high school. Some of them didn't come home. That hardened my anti war resolve that I carry with me to this day. The program's purpose of creating fodder for the proverbial cannon also produced many who fought the war machine. Such as it was in that day, and I hope, such as it is for this day.
Our present may be taken from us, as can our future, but the past is ours forever.
We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?
― Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder
Some day we'll all return to the stars from whence we came.
"When a man dies a library dies with him." ~ Unknown
Have a good one folks.