Saturday, December 30, 2006

From A Distance: New Year's Hopes and Fears

I have to admit that one of the perks of going to a parochial school is having an actual Christmas program that the kids put on.

[As an aside, even being the Marxist that I am when it comes to religion (I'm glad that OTHER people find solace in organized religion, being the opiate that it is. I just don't need it for my own purposes), I'm getting fed up with the whole PC thing when it comes to celebrating holidays. Why is the solution to not mention ANY holiday rather than celebrating ALL holidays? I get it that one of the fears is that Christmas, for example, would get more 'air time' than Kwanzaa. But I honestly think that that would be better than not even mentioning the C word.]

The SYO's school puts on a show-to-be-remembered and the first graders are the stars. Each grade sings a song or two that represents a particular country that they study for the entire year. The first graders essentially act out a Nativity scene. It is the Gospel of Luke meets Peter Paul & Mary. 'Mary' and 'Joseph' sing to each other that they 'belong to a mu-tu-al. . . Ad-mi-ra-tion society. . . My baby and me.' And when Joseph can't find a place for he and his imminently expecting partner to sleep for the night, the entire first grade bursts into 'Hit the road, Joe! And doncha come back no more, no more, no more, no more! Hit the road, Joe! etc.'

Yeah, it is cheezy, but the singing is great and well, they are our kids up there after all. They perform it to an entire gym full of parents and relatives a total of three times in the week before Christmas.

This year, the penultimate song was the Bette Midler jingle, From A Distance.

This line nearly brought tears to my eyes:
From a distance you look like my friend,
even though we are at war.
From a distance I just cannot comprehend
what all this fighting is for.

We are currently Up North (we have historically headed up here during the week between Christmas and New Year's with last year being the exception, given Mr. Big's arrival) overlooking the currently serene, yet ultimately powerful Lake Superior.

On this day after senseless capital punishment (that was the culmination of a trial that was infinitely shorter than any death row inmate in the US enjoys and no real appeals) and the day prior to the eve of a new year, I find myself feeling undeniably hopeless and full of fear with regard to our actions in Iraq.

Did you ever experience that feeling, upon reaching adulthood, where you looked around and realized that you were IT. You were your own safety net. You were where the buck stops.

This happened to me one summer when I was going through the 'Jump' program at the U.S. Air Force Academy. In order to take the five free-fall jumps (out of a flying airplane, mind you) to pass the program (and get the shiny pin that you could wear every day on your uniform!) we had to attend forty hours of training (note: even recounting this gives me the shivers. The things you can do at twenty!). At one point in the training I thought to myself: Holy S*&T! They are actually expecting me to have paid attention to this! I mean, my LIFE depends on me having paid attention!!! What if I didn't? This isn't Calc where if I miss a lecture or two due to day dreaming, I just get a bad grade and study hard next time! I can't afford a bad grade here!

This was one small step for me, but one giant leap into adulthood.

I wonder if George Bush is having some similar thoughts.

But what seems infinitely problemmatic is that he is not alone in this, yet he refuses to accept the bipartisan wisdom and advice of some very smart, experienced and (need I say) elected people in our government.

How many bipartisan commissions and reports can he ignore?

It used to feel like just a joke to me. A setup for an SNL skit or for the Colbert Report. But now it just makes me sad and scared.

How could even one member of Congress vote to give our president full authority on this war when they can't even tell us the difference between a Sunni and a Shia? Did ANYONE do the 'buck-stops-here' test prior to engaging in this action or did they think of it like my Calc class -- something that you could ignore here and there and still end up with a 'B'?

Looking back at my 2004 New Year's hopes written here, on the shore of Lake Superior (two years younger, all of us, and Mr. Big about three months from conception), I find this prescient gem: 2. that we get out of Iraq respectfully without leaving it a shambles.

Of the entire list, only this, and well, a bit of No. 7, has not gone without a hitch. But, regarding No. 7, there, at least, we can still be the buck-stoppers for our SYO. At least for a while.

Too bad Mr. Bush can't say the same.

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