Veterans Day, My Birthday & The Future

I ran across Kurt Vonnegut’s A Man Without a Country earlier this week while culling our books once more before we pack them for the move. Misty says we’ve jettisoned over 500 books[1] since we moved from Austin to New York City and now New Orleans. The last 50-100 gave me the opportunity to mail random books to friends. I was able to get the Evergreen Public Library in the small Alabama town my dad grew up in to take the leftover books. We can only hope some kid will run across New Media Design and decide to become a designer (there’s good money in it!).

Vonnegut and I share today as a birthday.

I flipped through the book thinking something poignant would jump out. Nothing did. I put it in a box to be shipped to a friend. Maybe I’ll flip through once more.

Considering the election, my liberal friends’ responses to it and today being Veterans Day, I think it may be helpful to point out that those we’re celebrating today have faced far more dangerous situations than we currently do – even with Trump becoming president.

People go through phases of worrying about risks and about staying alive. . . . Then, over time, they adjust and focus on the job, becoming a bit fatalistic in the process. You can’t do your job and be effective if you stay in the worry phase.

The reason I’m not so destroyed over Trump? Because we’ve been fighting this fight for many years. Yes, we’ve hit a significant obstacle. Yes, we may find ourselves pushed backward slightly. But we will continue the fight for justice. We don’t have a choice. The neoliberal foundation of Western civilization is trembling beneath our feet – we have no choice but to respond. Fortunately, given our experience doing so, we’ll find that we’re still effective. We just have to put aside the tissues and begin working the issues again.

There’s a time for worrying about yourself and being teary-eyed. That time has passed.

You wonder why military members have such dark humor? It’s the fatalism noted above. It’s the conscious lack of control of one’s life. The military controls your life – and, to a degree, your death. If you can’t joke about it, you can’t do your job.

It’s time to do our jobs.

Pay attention. Don’t fall asleep again. Stay involved. Write letters. Organize. Get on the streets. Testify. Lobby. Help formulate a new, more equal society. Posting on Facebook and Twitter won’t change anything (no matter what the technological solutionists might have you believe). You have to get – and stay – involved in the political and policymaking process. Otherwise, you’re abandoning responsibility for the future of our country to the rest of us, and it’s a heavy load. We need all the help we can get.

As Kurt said, “The nicest veterans . . . the kindest and funniest ones, the ones who hated war the most, were the ones who’d really fought.”

Get in the fight.

Forward, march!

[1] As I’ve mentioned before, we’re going mostly digital. Keeping important, expensive, sentimentally valuable and signed books. We’re ditching books we can download. Makes moving much easier.

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