The war in Ukraine is being reported as though it were a game. The analysists tote up the score and analyze the various team’s game. Several teams contest the field and their fans and supporters are not far away following the action. Today we are hearing that Putin has been declared a war criminal for targeting civilians. A reasonable charge, he is the commander of the forces attacking civilians. But I have a hard time forgetting that civilians were targeted by an American general at the end of WW2. I think the Russian foreign minister Lavrov pointed this out today. There is a qualitative difference between fifty or a hundred and a hundred and fifty thousand. There can’t be a moral difference. I guess it all depends on who the winner is.
I see something. Maybe because I am old. Maybe the perspective of having had the culture shift under me a couple of times. Once a generation and there have been several in my time. I see structure I grew up with being dissolved. The social structure. The social reality. For anyone under forty the US Viet Nam war is history as ancient as the US civil war. Worse than that, the last couple of generations have not been taught or haven’t learned their country’s history. Does that mean they’re doomed to repeat it? They would be anyway, people don’t learn. Circumstances don’t change much and human nature not at all. So I need to disconnect. Following all this without having even the slightest influence is masochism. I don’t need that in my reclining years. My re aligning years. The years I should resign from being a watcher of human history.
I was just out in the tiny house on the edge of the big field. Today it is warm, 55F. The mud shows signs of drying out. Under the stubble and stalks of last years weeds this summer’s weeds are awakening. Thru the big energy inefficient windows I thought about marking a “No Weed Zone” in yellow crime scene tape. Within the zone weed whackers would patrol. The ground is most excellent for growing weeds. An accident of a sort. Where the tiny house stands now there once was a huge barn. It was the largest barn in the county 110 years ago. Its last years were served as an apartment building for chickens. That use resulted in a ton or two of chicken poop. Before the barn was demolished the poop was pushed out and spread. It composted and enriched the soil to the degree we get five crops a year….five crops of weeds. A lot of whacking will be done. A better use of my time than watching the big “game” on the internet.
A couple of related items registered with me today. A high school teacher told a friend of mine that he noticed students now show less empathy. He has been teaching long enough to see a generational change. Specifically he was talking about news that tornados had killed dozens of people in the Midwest. The kids shrugged and said the events were far away and thus didn’t affect them. I can understand that. The news overload I’ve written about. The draining and burnout of empathy. The other item was something on National Public Radio as I drove into town. Anymore I can’t listen for more than a few minutes before something makes me switch the radio off. The affected voice with the up tone at the end of sentences, question or not. Or the vocal ticks each generation seems to have, Like you know? or so. What got me this time was advice on how to avoid a reaction to the pictures of dead babies on your twitter feed. Putin’s tough love for Ukraine sends missiles into maternity hospitals. Seems people here are being upset by the images. Looking away I think was suggested. So… of course there is less empathy. The young are incorporating the callus that isolates us from a reaction to the murder of innocents. Older people look away when it gets to be too much but we still feel it. We feel a powerlessness too. The kids will be better prepared for a nasty world, the one they will own and suffer. There is no other.
But I wasn’t going to talk about any of that…..and yes, I am one virgin short.