Sunday, September 16, 2012

It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding

If there was an internet back in Revolutionary War days, the following Daniel Boone tale would no doubt have been tagged a "rural legend." As the story goes, one day the famed Kentucky pioneer was hiking through a forest when he unexpectedly stepped on the tale of a rattlesnake. Simultaneously, a mother grizzly stood high over him and he noticed he'd come between the bear and her cubs. As if this weren't enough, beyond the cubs was a Native with fierce intentions placing an arrow into his bow.

More Hollywood than real life, but it's an apt illustration for the times we live in. Economic crises, global warming, unexplained infectious epidemics, food shortages, drug wars... and the ongoing conflicts in multiple locations throughout the known world signaling that 9/11 is not yet finished... We tune it out daily, primarily so we can enjoy our sports, entertainment and other diversions. It's hard to function when your heart is heavy so most of the time you cap it. Having responsibilities on the job helps distract us as well.

But like trying to hold a beach ball underwater, our global troubles occasionally slip out and surface again so that we're aware of the global interconnectedness of the world we live in. This week, it occurred in the form of riots in an uncertain number of countries. Purportedly these riots were a knee-jerk reaction to a film about Mohammed. Is it possible the film is but the occasion for this display of anti-Americanism that has been long seething beneath the surface due to American behavior abroad?

During World War II, as U.S. troops marched into town after driving out the Nazis in Northern Italy, the people rushed out to greet them, shouting "Bueno Americano!" The Americans at one time were heroes. My sense is that this is no longer so. One reason might be that when we visit other countries the only Americans they encounter are our drones.

A story in The Guardian states that in Pakistan alone there have been over 330 drone attacks with more than 3,000 civilian casualties. I doubt the people in Pakistan are shouting "Bueno Americano." Nor the people in Yemen or Somalia or Egypt. In a Tom Englehart column at yesterday it was pointed out that being militarily powerful is now America's great claim to fame. Currently we now produce nearly 80% of the world's arms, and have Delta and other incursion forces in as many as 120 countries worldwide.

I don't know where this is all going to lead, but it concerns me. I hear other people-in-the-know express their concerns and wonder how we can so willingly go on with our bread-and-circuses.

Then again, maybe the bread-and-circuses are good because we have no power to really change anything anyways. The power brokers decide and we live with the consequences. The Ugly American has cnme of age.

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