Tomorrow

I’ve been through yesterday, I’m going through today, but I haven’t gotten tomorrow yet. Tomorrow is a brave new world, or maybe a cowardly old world. We’ll just have to see.

Today is Memorial Day, when the nation pauses to honor it’s military veterans, particularly those who have given their lives in ultimate sacrifice to our country. My father was a veteran, and was drafted twice, once for the Korean War and once for Viet Nam. I don’t believe he saw combat, but I do remember he told me that he was sent to the military psychiatrist because he refused to bend down and touch his toes. I have always wondered what that was all about, but this was a guy who refused to eat yellow vegetables, so who knows.

I know a great many veterans, and I understand that it takes a certain kind of person to survive in military service. I have the utmost respect for them all, because I know that I could not do the duty. Warrior is an archetype, and it’s definitely not mine, although it’s interesting because I am so prone to fight. I fight on a different level, for different things, I suppose but I fight nonetheless.

There was another mass shooting last night in Miami FL. The shooter was apparently fighting on some level, considered themselves a warrior in some cause. Or maybe they were just nuts.

I’ve always know there’s a very fine line between great brilliance and great crazy. Sometimes I can’t quite tell the difference, and sometimes it’s absolutely necessary for the exceedingly brilliant to be just a little nuts. The container of the average cannot hold them, and it is probably quite maddening. Michael Jackson comes to mind when I think of such a person; the man was a brilliantly talented musician and musical visionary, but he had…issues. I believe his mental issues were helped along by his upbringing, his early life in a fishbowl, and his aloneness in a class of talent few ever realize. I consider him quite a tragedy, and mourn a world that is deprived of his quirky dance moves, impetuous vocalizations, and ever-changing chameleon’s appearance.

I’m suppose to present a 3-4 minute testimonial to a very dear friend at my Fellowship. She’s a staff person, and people want to celebrate her tenure on her job as Director of Religious Educator. The title is nearly humorous for Unitarian Universalists, who frequently deride “religion” as something not applicable to us. But, that’s her title and we all know what that means, so there. She is very good at what she does, and very unassuming.

My friend is a 5-foot nothing bundle of strawberry blond hair and freckles, a white woman from rural North Carolina who somehow gets things without having experienced them. She gets racial injustice, she gets extremism, she gets implicit (and explicit) bias. I don’t have to explain my experience to her. She has a biracial niece and nephew, and has struggled with the racism that is directed to them. Her struggle is not one of fear for them, but one of fear that she is not doing enough or not doing the right things to protect them. And she understands that people who look like her are the ones from whom they need protection. This is a different journey through racism than I have, and she understands that her journey is different but yet the same at the end of the road.

So, I’m supposed to present this next Sunday, and I can do it any way I choose. It will be a Zoom gathering, so I figure I will just write something to read. If we were meeting in person I might choose to play my flute or guitar and (gulp) sing something, but that doesn’t always translate well across the interwebz. So, I will write something, procrastinating for the required amount of time to make it complete at the last minute. I’m just that kind of girl.

Back to Memorial Day, though. I would never, never, never want to minimize the significance of this day, nor the immeasurable gift that a military member’s service gives to us all. My struggle is not with the warrior archetype, or the choice of those who serve. My struggle is not as simple as rejecting the military because I reject the concept of war. I don’t have the innocent belief that we can do without war and simply choose peace.

I really have no qualms about celebrating this day, or honoring those who serve past or present. I do, however, have pangs of regret that military service and war, in the administration of conflict, is rarely limited to our warriors, our service people. The people who love them, or hate them, are impacted just as much by their experience as they are. They are not paid at levels that reflect our gratitude, however, and so it irks me that people wax poetic about this day and Veterans Day as sufficient recompense for it all.

The other thing troubling me about today is really my persistent awareness that everyone is at war here in this country. Perhaps all humans engage in warfare, not with guns or cannons, but in attitudes that leave our edifices in ruins, the fabric of our communities in shreds, and our spirits weary. That is the war of differences, and superiority, and bias. We have not conquered the war inside our souls that rages on every day, urging us to differentiate ourselves even at the expense of others.

As I mentioned there was a mass shooting in Miami FL last night. Another salvo in the war of somebody vs. somebody else. The death toll was 2 this morning, with another 20 injured. Perhaps the shooter was not a good marksman. Perhaps the victims took effective measures to escape. I am grateful the casualty count was low, but there remain two human lives that were taken last night. Taken at the hands of another human who made a decision about their lives, for some unknown reason.

As in military wars, the impact of last night’s shooting are not limited to those who were killed and injured, but in everyone connected to them. The loved ones, the children, the spouses, the parents and relatives. The witnesses. The colleagues, the friends, the vendors, those who received the outlay of their productivity. We are all connected in so many ways, and eliminating a link from the chain weakens the entire structure.

So, how can we not be at war with each other? I don’t quite know, but I know this is not it. Focusing on suppressing voting rights in a country that has prided itself on one vote, one voice and the will of the people is a cognitive disconnect. It makes no sense. Continuing to claim the last general election was stolen from the incumbent makes no sense. Persisting in multiple vote recounts in various states is a futile endeavor designed to simply keep people stirred up and at each other’s throats.

TFG (The Former Guy) is not going to stop throwing gasoline on this fire of disgruntlement. He cannot accept the outcome of the November 3rd election, just as he could not accept his own part in that outcome. Buying more guns will not quell the conflict, because it is within us rather than between us. Storming the Capitol and smearing feces on the walls will not do it either. Recounting votes and suppressing future votes is futile, and ultimately, they know it. But as long as people are stirred up and in the fog of war, they will keep trying to change reality. Good luck, y’all.

When I am disgruntled, it’s because I do not accept the reality of what’s happening, whether it’s wrong or right. I do not accept reality, and keep trying to change both yesterday and tomorrow, which is absolutely preposterous. The efforts to change the very fabric of space and time will fail, but they will cause damage that will take a while to reverse. What a waste of time.

Back in the 1950s, the war raged over racial segregation in schools and public accommodations. It was impossible to remain neutral in that, and we killed each other over different opinions about whether people of different races could share space. It was a brutal and bloody battle, people died, innocence was trampled, towns and buildings destroyed. But ultimately, after a great deal of damage to people and places, we desegregated. The world did not end, and life stumbled on.

Unfortunately, however, the internal conflict over racial equality has continued. This latest round of legislative efforts to suppress the vote in several states is just the next step. Until we come to some kind of peace within ourselves, it will never end. If we colonize Mars, or the Moon, or some other planet we’ll take our biases with us and start the whole thing again elsewhere.

It’s difficult for me to believe that I’m superior to anyone, even in terms of talent or effort or work. When told that I should have confidence in what I have to give, I’m usually tongue-tied and feeling a bit ridiculous. When I do have some kind of confidence that I’ve made a superior effort, that’s rarely because I consider my personal identity to be superior to that of anyone else. It’s only because my actions turned out well, that my preparation was sufficient or exemplary, that fortune smiled. I don’t quite understand how just being who I am entitles me to victory or reward. About that, I have no conflict.

People who have died in the service of their country are due the respect, honor, and memorialization of all of us, in my opinion. There is no minimalization of that. I am simply challenged by the confines of how we define war, and its impact. We’re all in service to our country, on some level, whether it’s by working or being law abiding or healing. For some of us, the battlefield is closer than for others, and we should remember that. As Angela Davis once noted, freedom is a constant struggle. As I say, sometimes we have to fight for it.

Let my people go!

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

2 thoughts on “Tomorrow

  1. There’s so much on this post that I’m not qualified to say too much about.However, it’s a good post and has many interesting points, some of which I do want to add my view to.

    I too have a great respect for our soldiers and their great bravery although I sometimes feel the leaders let them down by not taking enough thought for the lives they “spend” in these wars. I think there should never be an acceptable loss level and that the weight of each death, right or wrong, should be carried in our memories so that we always remember war as our last option, not our first.

    I also agree that we’re all always at war. I think, in the end, we fight ourselves most of all – our needs to dominate, fear, hate and kill may, I can imagine, often be traced back to our not wanting to face our own fears about who we are and our rights to be that and there.
    Then, there are two choices – to blame others so that we don’t have to face ourselves or to build in the hopes and intent that what we do may prove that who we are is good enough.
    Of course, that’s only based on me and my thinking.

    I hope that one day we’ll turn to facing our fears of difference, change and the unknown in ourselves. Perhaps that will make a difference.

    As for your feeling of not feeling superior, I think we’ve long had the concept of there having to be one hero to change the world – from Cuchulain or Boadicea, Spiderman or NCIS agent Gibbs – and it makes us forget that we’re all heroes and it shows in the kindness and effort we offer into the world.
    As Take That sang, We Are Giants

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for that insight. Yes, we fight ourselves, but see another as our enemy. As always, your insight is much appreciated and gives me even more to contemplate. That’s a very good thing. And you are right…we are giants. I looked up that song, and I think this is it (I really liked it, too): https://youtu.be/GI0Ft-BI_d0

      Liked by 1 person

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