Friday, July 04, 2008

Fourth of July

Fourth of July is a major holiday in the US, not that everyone is remember the true meaning of the original event, but rather the day off from work, the barbecues, fireworks, and some other celebration activity. When we lived in Modesto, CA, there was not much to celebrate. It was basically a normal day, not having been invited to any parties, but none of our friends were having any to invite us to. In the evening, we would drive to the parking garage downtown and watch the fireworks from roof level. They lasted maybe twenty minutes, were less than spectacular and then we went home again. With all that excitement left behind, it was an easy adjustment to living in Hungary where the fourth of July is just a date on the calendar and nothing more. However, everyone and their last three generations of relatives find it necessary to send me Happy 4th of July greetings. People who ignore me on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or my birthday spring out of the ground like it was groundhog day to send me their best wishes for a happy holiday. Normally, I would be appreciative of being remembered; however, let's use some common sense here. Why would you ask me what I intended to do today, when you know for a fact that I have lived in Central Europe for almost seven years? To add to the frustration, what really irks me is the sub-text to these messages. "Remember our troops who are keeping America safe". The fact that they buy into all of the fear factor spread by government propaganda that we are there for American freedom, scares me to the point of wanting to get in their face, shake them silly and scream into their face "Wake up and use the brain you God gave you." The lack of critical thinking is beyond my comprehension. Now I must admit, my ability to look at all sub-text of an issue had greatly increased since living abroad, but I still read the papers, watched the news, and looked for other sources of information other than what was being fed to me by the media. There are ten corporations that own all of the major print and news media in the US. Can we say 'control'? Can we say "filtered"? But, alas, their lives are too busy to dig deeper than the front page of the local paper, or the five minutes of TV news at 6 and 11 pm, so this is what they have to base an opinion on. What I have confronted with friends, acquaintances, and others is that when you offer them the sources of alternative information for making sound judgments, it forces them into one of three choices. Some are honest enough, but incredibly naive by saying "It really does not affect my life at all" or "I know I should do something about it, but I just don't have the time" or the third and most rarely chosen response "Wow, I didn't know that, but now I will do something positive about it." I was sharing this with an old friend in the literal sense. He is over 80 years old and I have known him for about forty years. Although he took it more personally than I had intended, I will have to check my e-mail to him again, he did shoot back an angered response. He fought in WWII; he knows what the troops are going through; he writes to Congress people to make his voice heard since he can no longer go out to demonstrate (not that there are any demonstrations to join anyway). He accused me of playing the "holier than thou" card and maybe I did come off as doing that. However, I hit a cord, made him think and even if my thoughts do not apply to him, perhaps, he will share them with someone who needs to hear them. Since the age of the Internet, he has become a great communicator, unlike the years that lapsed because we depended on the snail mail system. But again, we are discussing apples and oranges here. WW I and WWII are the apples where as Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Iraq are the oranges. There are vast differences in the wars. The current war we are in was without the blessings of our allies, and the few who decided to help us, did so reluctantly and withdrew their troops as soon as was feasible like unwilling guests at a dinner party who left early, but showed up for appearances sake. We were lied to by our top elected officials and they continued to lie to justify their motives. They then continually use the fear factor to keep the populace in pumped up with apprehension of what will happen if we leave. What we are not being told often enough is that the Armed Forces are continually reducing their qualifications for recruits because they need bodies to fight. The recruiters are slinking their way through ghettos and slums, looking for desperate people who have no other choices in life due to a lack of education, racial discrimination, or poverty, making the option of a military career look appealing. When these people return, if they return in one physical piece, the heroes welcome lasts a day at the most, then the infrastructure for helping them succeed fails them. The ones that were not harmed physically are still impacted mentally, but who is there to aid them? The VA hospitals are under funded and overwhelmed. The public may be sympathetic, but no corporation will offer them a job based on sympathy. Rather than support our troops, which to me is airy language just to make those saying it feel better, we need to support our young people so they don't feel a need to be an Armed Forces member in order to achieve a living.

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