Saturday, September 18, 2010

"Sai wot...?"

Talk, the adage tells us, is cheap.

Apparently, so much so that a lot of it is being purchased these days from the budget tables in the local discount store.

Or, more accurately, the scratch and dent table.

A few weeks ago, Sarah Palin lampooningly languaged that one should "refudiate" any false accusations levied or impressions impressed.

Now, the newest cast member of the reality show that puts them all to shame, "The Stepford Sarahs", Delaware's Christine O'Donnell, in one of her first public speeches as the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, told the crowd that she's going to champion, among other things, the protection of our "unalienable" rights.

And, of course, we could do a whole Catch A Rising Star set on the satiric syntax of George W.

Okay. First, let's not get distracted by the inevitable sidebar that starts out with something like "....well,I'd rather have someone who's not grammatically perfect but looks out for the everyday folk than someone who...."

And I'll concede that the inability to put together an articulate and cohesive sentence with both hands and a flashlight is not necessarily a deal breaker when it comes to choosing those whose advice and counsel we shall seek and/or follow.

After all, one of the smoothest public speakers of all time was Professor Harold Hill.

And we all know that the first trombone was a hustle, let alone the other seventy five.

I suppose it's just post traumatic stress disorder, resulting from the diligent professorial pounding I took forty plus years ago from some very dedicated English teachers, that makes me twitch a little when I hear people who are asking to be our role models make that request using words that I'm reasonably sure don't exist in any language, let alone English.

Which I really shouldn't have to press one for, by the way, but that's another blog for another day.

Zealous advocate for the rights of the opposition that I am, though, I began to consider the possibility that our social ills, rather than resulting from a defect in dogma or doctrine, per se' might be, in fact, the result of errors in expression.

And, with that light shining on the path of exploration, I discovered what I think might be the root cause of the whole systemic failure.

We simply didn't say it right, right from the start.

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,[1] promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Well, the flies in that ointment are Claritin clear from the get go, wouldn't you say?

"We the people"...anytime you start out anything with the word "we", you're asking for trouble..."we" of course, being the collective of the word "I"...this puts whatever follows, at best, at risk of failure because you can't get a "we" to agree on anything...put four people in a room, take a vote on what everyone wants for lunch and starvation will occur before consensus...

"a more perfect union"...first, and English teachers and/or ghosts of same feel free to correct me but, isn't "more perfect" like saying "more pregnant"?...that bubble in the I.V. bag aside, you have to circle back to that "we" thing again..."we" is still debating Thai versus sushi, let alone getting about the business of forming unions, perfect or more so...

"establish justice'...this is one of those things that sounds flag wavy, but is, thanks to the way we oxymoronically provide criminals with compassion, pretty much a catchphrase as opposed to a catechism...

"insure domestic Tranquility"...first, I think capitalizing Tranquility shoves that definition off in the direction of an historic chunk of the lunar surface...second, if "domestic tranquility" is meant to mean nationwide peace, quiet and co-operation, then it's back to that "we" thing again....the neighborhood family can't get through the Christmas party without somebody getting pissed off, so what are the odds the national family will fare any better?...

"common defence"...Dan Quayle-esque spelling of the D word notwithstanding, "common" is just a semantic subterfuge to keep from overselling the "we" while still slipping it in there...

"general welfare"...SWDD....same "we", different day...

"secure the Blessings of Liberty"...again, not sure why this capital letter thing kept rearing It's Ugly Head....muddies the manifesto, in the first place (didn't Blessings Of Liberty open for Tom Petty in the 80's?)...and in the second place, this is really just an artsy fartsy way of saying freedom for all...which, as life teaches us, is an inevitable hair in the soup...the problem with freedom, the wise man once said, is that you have to give it to everyone...

"do ordain" and state...hellllooo.....

The more I think about it, the more I suspect that the cracks in our national bedrock might simply be the result of these flaws in the foundation.

Of course, the current wording provides you with the prerogative to refudiate my point of view.

Go for it.

It's your unalienable right.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"September....November...and December..."

Today, I am reminded of the horror.

Of the carnage and the shock, the body blow to our psyches, the assault on our senses amidst the confusion, the stunned disbelief that on such a clear, bright and beautiful day, our lives could be turned upside down by an insane act that would, without warning, irrevocably alter the course of our history.

And I am reminded of how we gathered together, huddled around radios and televisions, bonding together, family with family, friend with friend, strangers with strangers, as we absorbed the horrific details of that horrific day and, almost as a single voice, cried out that we would never, ever forget.

And, for a time, the wound would not, and could not, close, the process of healing denied, primarily the result of our adament and stubborn refusal to let it begin , as if our willingness to let it happen would somehow cheapen the sacrifice that had been made that day, would somehow lessen the honor we all felt was due the life lost, the pain suffered, the heartache inflicted.

With each passing year, the inevitable anniversary brought us around once again to the just as inevitable churning of raw emotion, the tearful return of harsh memories and the renewed passionate determination that we would never allow ourselves the selfishness of pretending that our lives could ever be what we once believed normal, in that time before our innocence was smashed, before our eyes were forced open to the harsh realities of this life by the heartless, hurtful, immoral insanity of this attack.

And on each of those anniversaries, the airwaves filled with tribute and remembrance, with minute by minute or hour by hour replays of the sounds and sights and screams of those terror filled moments of the day when death rained down on us from what had been, until that moment, just another tall building in an America filled with tall buildings, as if to not relive, through those sounds and sights and screams, every insane and gory detail of the horror of that day, we were somehow selfishly allowing ourselves to cheapen the sacrifice and lessen the honor due the life lost.

Inevitably, in time, the process of healing, as it always does, overcame our best efforts to prevent it and, at some point, the once almost instinctive need to relive the sounds and sights and screams, was gently and compassionately usurped by a sense that while we should, and would, never let the sacrifice made that day fade completely from our awareness, the raw reliving must come to an end, replaced by respectful and reverent remembrance, honoring life lost by lighting it up and not dredging it up; paying tribute by not screaming our pain but by sharing our passion, a passion for a way of life and adherance to principles that evil, in whatever form it takes or horror it inflicts, simply cannot, in the end, overcome.

On that day, our innocence was brutally taken away, our eyes forced open to the harsh realities of this life. And death rained down from a tall building that had, until that moment, been just another tall building in an America filled with tall buildings.

The Texas School Book Depository.

In time, the raw re-living of that day came to an end, replaced by respectful and reverent remembrance. A remembrance that, to this day, does absolutely nothing, to diminish or denigrate the honor due the life lost and sacrfice made, nothing to trivialize the horror that must cruelly be a part of every futile attempt that evil makes to overcome us, be it the brutal destruction of a naval base in the Hawaiian Islands on a peaceful Sunday morning...the cold blooded killing of an American president on a sun drenched Dallas street...or the obscenity of our own airliners used as weapons against us.

Today, I am reminded of that horror.