Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Patriotism and Other Ponderous Concepts
The quote: "We need anything politically important rationed out like Pez: small, sweet and coming out of a funny plastic head." —Dennis Miller
A sad commentary on the state of the American public's attention span. In our collective defense, however, I must put forward the observation that it is onerous to keep one's attention focussed on the disconnected mental wanderings of certain individuals when those wanderings dribble out of their mouths in odd catch phrases and platitudes. Give me a politician who can step to the podium and convey an intelligent message with captivating prose and I'll listen for hours.
Of course, every politician who steps to the podium promising the hope of intelligent thought conveyed via elegant prose, and who then disappoints should be subject to an atomic wedgie. An effective deterent for pre-election running off at the mouth.
The quote: "Patriotism having become one of our topicks, Johnson suddenly uttered, in a strong determined tone an apothegm, at which many will start: 'Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.' But let it be considered that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretend patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak of self-interest." —Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), quoted in Boswell's Life of Johnson
Let everything be considered in its context. What kind of patriotism are we practicing when we attempt to bring democracy to another country? Perhaps in other leaders' hands it might be successful, but can Bush and Cheney actually be motivated by generosity? Clue: Not in a million years. The best hope in the quagmire that is Iraq is the military leadership doing the real work despite the posing going on here at home.
To the public demanding the military be pulled out because the whole exercise seems to be a failure: Reconsider your opinion of a failure, people. Just because your opinions are as changeable as your clothing, doesn't mean the convictions of a confused and frightened populace living in an entirely different culture are as changeable. This is their country, government and economy we are talking about. It is a bit difficult to convince good men and women to run for office in our own relatively peaceful country because of the stresses and scrutiny they will endure. How difficult is it to convince good people in Iraq to step to the fore when assassination is pretty much a guarantee, not to mention they'll be taking the reins of a country in civil war, with border nations threatening them (i.e. Turkey for the moment), and a foreign power currently in residence? That is a hard sell. Without that leadership in place and an impetus on the part of the populace to respect it, don't expect success any time soon.
Nations aren't built along a timeline, and they certainly aren't built along a timeline laid down by a foreign government. It was a bit naive to think it could be. I can understand why we want deadlines, but did we actually think these deadlines would be met? Commentary is beginning that we are looking at a prolonged effort like Korea. Korea is a rather neat package by comparison because there is a physical border involved. I'm exasperated at the lack of forethought that anyone has/is put/putting into the situation.
I believe I should step off my soapbox now. Thanks for letting me put my $.02 out there.
The quote: "I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain." —John Adams (1735-1826)
In a utopian society, his scheme might have worked. However, John Adams never had to face the reality of a "crumbling infrastructure". Today our sons and daughters must study all of the above, plus they must have a working knowledge of electronics, programming, and at least two foreign languages (not including texting shorthand).
Thanks for stopping by!