Well, we're off to war, and George W. Bush cements his place in history as the captain of America's loss of legitimacy in the international community. Tony Blair welded his lips to President Bush's ass a long time ago, and he may yet pay for the privilege--unlike Bush, he can be removed at any time by his own party, which is none too happy with him right now. But come on. We knew this was coming. Did we really have the illusion that this president of all people would actually listen to his constituents? Maybe you did if you believed him when he said he cared about people, or that corporate crime must be vigorously pursued, rooted out, and prevented. Nope, we're off to war.
I've always thought Vietnam left what I considered some good things in American society. (While I did take a course on the sixties in high school, somewhat to the consternation of my parents, I wasn't actually there, so I get to say these things with a certain amount of distance.) First, a distrust of government. Sure, it's sort of destabilizing, but the government lies to us and needs to be held accountable, and since it's hardly going to come clean on its own, we have to watch it. Second, a sense of caution on the part of the military. The current crop of military administrators remember Vietnam vividly and are conspicuously unenthusiastic about going into combat without the support of the American people (including the second war with Iraq).
The third thing may be the niftiest: the separation of American soldiers from the government and generals who send them out to die. Whether you know soldiers as the career-oriented disciplinarian who decided at age ten that he was going to West Point, or Jim-Bob down the street who decided to enlist at 18 because it was taking too long to finish 10th grade, America now seems to view its military as our brothers and sisters, daughters and sons, mothers and fathers. That's only a good thing, in my mind. Combat veterans need the people at home more than ever, poor kids. I feel sorry for them, not just for what they go through, but because they put themselves under the command of such arbitrary, selfish, insane powers. In Iraq they won't be defending my freedom, and they know it.
Here's the thing. There is the happiness of things: the good stuff that happens (did you know that "happy" and "happen" share the same Old English root?), people we meet and like and love, the job we enjoy and the five-dollar bill we find in the pocket of a long-ignored pair of jeans. While nifty, these are all smaller joys, the delights of the Little I. When you start to latch on to Big I, the smaller joys flow like water because everything is happy, because you have aligned yourself with the Way of the Universe. These days I have a lot of happy going on, but it all flows from the happy underneath it all, relaxing into a simple state of being undisturbed by the things in life that we label "good" or "bad". Good comes, and we are joyful in the stillness; catastrophe comes, and we are sad in the stillness. Deep happiness is to feel that unmovable stillness inside and know that we carry it with us all the time, and because we are close to our true nature, we will still have the deep happiness when life gets more difficult, as it always does.
Maybe I shouldn't have written that. But who cares? The full moon is so pretty tonight.