Just got the news. Thanks for all the Christmas–you’ll always be Santa to me.
Panama…then Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, Iraq again, Afganistan–right or wrong, for causes both just and cynical, we’ve been in an exhausting, nearly constant state of war, however distant and vaguely defined, since I graduated from High School in the 1980’s–and that was just a few deep breaths after the war in Viet Nam/ Cambodia/ Laos that defined my father and his generation. It seems fitting to start out a series of my favorite poems with war theme.
I’ve thought of no other poem more than this one over the past two decades, which speaks volumes for Wilfred Owen, who wrote from a foxhole in World War I–the “War To End All Wars.” In the age of biological weapons, this piece resounds like the deepest church bells on a cold, crisp night.
Dulce Et Decorum Est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.
GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!– An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.–
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
I try to be a tolerant guy. I don’t care what color you are, what country your parents came from, who you love nor–once I’ve gotten to know you–who you voted for. I won’t pretend those differences don’t exist: race, gender, orientation–all that stuff–is fascinating baggage to dig through, preferably over a drink, if for nothing else than for the wildly different experience these otherwise meaningless characteristics create, not to mention the social and cultural expectations and preconceptions engendered by the same.
I guess that’s why I don’t understand the homophobic bigotry of the conservative right, who despite their collective wailing and gnashing of teeth about “liberty” tend to expend exceptional energies in denying the freedom and liberties of homosexuals. Similarly, I’m disgusted by the propensity of Christians to aggressively proselytize, demonstrating their overarching, dismissive disrespect for the spiritual and religious beliefs of others while simultaneously scheming to shape and control–and ultimately subvert–all public offices.
Numerous Christian women have, in recent weeks, written letters to our local newspaper in what appears to be a concerted effort, advocating a forthright Christian litmus test as part of the requirements for president, assuring us that the Christian god does not approve of Barack Obama, reminding us that that “Many people seem to forget how this country (world, for that matter) was started and who started it. God! And it’s pretty bad when people think he should be removed from all aspects of our lives.” Finally, and this is my favorite, another woman asserted that the government’s failure to embrace and promote Christian values equates to repression and makes us “no better than the Taliban.” And no, she was not promoting irony.
Recently, I received the following email:
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|Please, help me spread the Truth for YouthAugust 28, 2013
Dear Charles This week, OneMillionMoms.com and Revival Fires International are hosting the Eleventh annual “Truth For Youth” Week across the nation.
Really, there are no catches, no gimmicks, no shipping costs. Everything has already been paid for on your behalf.
We just want to get Bibles into the hands of our youth. No one will call you and you won’t be added to any mailing lists. Order your Free Bible now.
Our goal this week is to give away at least 65,000 Bibles. We need your help to reach our goal.
The Truth For Youth Bible consists of the New Testament in the God’s Word translation, along with 100 pages of powerful full color comic stories that are packed with “absolute truth” regarding issues young people are faced with.
Thank you in advance for your help in getting Bibles into the hands of our youth.
During ‘The Truth For Youth” week you can help make reaching the 53.8 million youth in America’s public schools with ‘the truth” of God’s Word, a reality. To receive a free copy of the ‘Truth For Youth” to give away in school, order online here or call 1-800-733-4737. Limit: One Bible per teenager in each home.
Additional copies may be purchased for a special discounted price of only $3.00 each at http://www.thetruthforyouth.com/truth_bible.html#HELPTHECAUSE.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have subscribed to the One Million Moms email campaign because 1) This chick is unintentionally hilarious, and 2.) I like to know who they’re targeting.
In this case, however, I am NOT AMUSED. What kind of people plot to use their own children to undermine and subvert the values of their peers’ families? How fiendish and twisted to employ a militia of children to wage war against other families? I’m pretty confident my kids wouldn’t go in for this sort of assault on our beliefs, but believe me: if a kid of mine did come home from school with a bible in their hand and a tale of attempted conversion, the parents of the kid are going to find me on their porch and in their face. No one has the right to interfere with the way I raise my children, and Ms. Cole’s breezy confidence in her insidious plot to corrupt the values of 65,000 families is shocking.
Imagine the outrage if a group of Muslim or Jewish missionaries embarked on a plan to “convert” 65,000 American children. Christian parents in California raised a stink over physical education classes that taught basic yoga! Sigh. I simply don’t understand the colonial, missionary zeal of the religion that instilled in me most of the (very few, I admit) moral strengths I can claim. What is it about Christians–and Muslims, for that matter, quite a lot of common ground here–that drive them to recruit, convert, or conquer “unbelievers” either true or perceived, why the need to remake the world. Why not live and let live? I mean, if I don’t get into paradise on good deeds and kindness alone (not actually criteria, according to what I heard from the pulpit), it’s just that much less often they’ll have to refill the bowl of heavenly corn nuts, right.
Why not “live and let live?”
Have an answer? Illuminate me.
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