Friday, December 30, 2011

The Ending of a Year

And so another year ends. Not one of the great years one would say—a dismal economic performance worldwide, and a broken US political system. Might we hope that it can only get better from here (despite the dismal forecasts for 2012)?

But, as I was in that half awake-half asleep mode this morning, I thought of 60 years ago, as I was approaching the end of 1951 and looking forward to my high school graduation that coming June.  My excitement at the coming graduation and my planned attendance at Stanford University in the Fall of 1952 made the closing out of 1951 and the upcoming year look to be exciting. 
The downer in all that excitement, of course, was the ongoing Korean War. That war provoked considerable discussion and not a little consternation among my male friends, most of whom were either already 18 or soon to turn 18. The magic 18 had nothing to do with conventional stuff like drivers’ licenses or legal drinking, but rather the draft.  Would the war continue and would we all, therefore, be drafted to serve in that war?  My “coming of age” date was December 17, 1952. I would be at Stanford at that point, so whether I would be drafted at all might depend on whether the war turned into a larger conflict.
I was just becoming aware of politics and I was excited about the coming election, even though I could not yet vote. Eisenhower was the great father figure who had played a major role in World War II.  Hopefully, we all thought, he would be able to act in such a way that Korea would be contained, although China was widely regarded as a serious wild card.  Happily, for me at least, my student status prevailed and I remained out of the draft.  Happily too, the War finally ground to a halt with an Armistice. The shooting stopped.
So, as we approach 2012, some 60 years has passed and we still have one ongoing shooting war. We really don’t seem to get it—we the World of adults I mean.  It is difficult to escape the notion that adult males especially, love to shoot things, people especially, and now, especially if it can be done at a distance, using somebody else’s son or daughter as the instruments of destruction.  If it isn’t organized religion, it’s oil, or territory, or to remove somebody we don’t like at the moment (see Sadaam Hussein and George W. Bush).  We seem to possess an inexhaustible supply of reasons to shoot people.  “Love thy neighbor” seems a passing bad joke.
And to listen to all the chest thumping going on amidst those royal, loyal republicans running for that very high office, I remain confident that one or more of them will dream up some argument for invading Iran, once elected (except for Ron Paul who, although terminally nuts on most fronts, seems predisposed to stop getting us into wars).  I remain hopeful that this parade of delusional clowns will all self-destruct on election day 2012 and go back to their main business—getting really, really wealthy.  If there were only some legal way we could imprison them, and the global bankers,  for their roles in crashing the world economy. But alas, they will all go scot free and continue to grow their fortunes. Such is life.
So, as the year ends, I am visibly older than the young sprout anxiously looking forward to 1952, but I nonetheless continue to look forward to the coming 2012.  Who knows, maybe common sense will suddenly strike the world of adults . . . it could happen.
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