Yesterday, a man from my hometown friended me on Facebook and complained that in second grade I broke his heart. That would have been 1971.
I'm not one to wax nostalgic. There is no time in my life I'd like to go back to and relive, including my childhood. I was born in 1963. The Vietnam War was already grinding up young men in Southeast Asia and families here in the States. Older brothers and cousins of my classmates would go and never come back. When the war finally ended, it had provided the backdrop of protests and body counts my entire life. Peace, such as it was with the CIA popping up everywhere, took some getting used to.
A bunch of my nieces and nephews - even a grandson - have been born since the Towers fell. They do not recall a time when we were not at war, but war has no meaning for them. They do not see caskets and funerals on TV. They do not hear reports from battlefields. If it weren't for the tepid arguments that erupt every now and then about funding, kids might not even notice what should be very much out of the ordinary but isn't.
On the Sunday talk shows, you hear wild ideas presented quietly, as if they were reasonable. If you're not used to mild changes in the pressure of language, you might not notice that we are being conditioned to accept the idea that we will always be at war, that the wars we are fighting now we will always fight and that endless war is the price we will pay to live as we do. We will always be at war so we can overlook being at war.
It's not just as if we didn't learn anything from the Vietnam War; it's as if we live now in an active state of forgetting. The economy crashed because we forgot bankers are greedy parasites in need of tight regulations on their behaviors. Women are about to lose access to abortion because we forgot the God Botherers hate us. The Democrats in Congress can't get anything done because they've forgotten basic math. That guy, for instance, forgot we were friends in high school. I can't remember a time when Bill Kristol was right about anything, but I doubt that's something I forgot. Maybe everyone needs flash cards.
I have a box of black adhesive bandages with skulls and crossbones on each one. Maybe I'll mail them to that guy to help him remember our past a little more clearly. What can be done for the rest of us?
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