As the new year enters, 2011 Gregorian calendar version (Chinese is coming up on Feb. 3, year of the Rabbit; رأس السنة الهجرية was a month ago, on Dec 7, making 1432 for Muslim counters), the usual year-end prognosticators and past year celebrants all pitched in with their views, good, bad, headed up, headed down. For my tea-reading exercise I list the following headlines, each of which tells a tale, and together make some kind of figure hinting at that future.
A few days ago it was
Several Warnings, Then a Soldier’s Lonely Death
This item told the story of a young American, troubled in personal life, who signed up to serve, and after exhibiting ample signs of his troubles, committed suicide in the parking area of America’s airbase in Kandahar, Aghanistan. The military declined to call it a suicide, at least so far.
Officially, the Army says only that Sergeant Senft, 27, a crew chief on a Black Hawk helicopter in the 101st Airborne Division’s aviation brigade, was killed as a result of “injuries sustained in a noncombat related incident” at Kandahar Air Base on Nov. 15.
Sergeant Senft was but one of a modest army of military suicides incurred by America’s willful domestic policy of trying to pretend there is no war – though our national budget groans under the weight of them – by consigning the actual fighting and experiencing of it to a tiny slice of the populace who are sent again and again to do and witness the worst of humanity’s activities. Small wonder these mostly rural, under-class economically, culturally deprived souls crumble under the crush of what they are asked to do, hidden, off far away.
4,000 Dead Birds Drop From the Sky
Then there was this story, from out of the Ozarks, one of the places that Sgt Senft might have come from (he didn’t; we was from Grass Valley, California, in the Sierra foothills). On New Year’s Eve it rained birds in Beebe, Arkansas. Red-winged blackbirds, to be precise.
One thing is almost certain: the bird drop is not related to the 83,000 fish that died a few days earlier in the western part of the state, the biggest fish kill in Arkansas that anyone can remember. They were spotted by anglers last week and reported to the Game and Fish Commission, which spent New Year’s Eve measuring and counting dead fish that had spread out for nearly 20 miles.
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise,
You were only waiting for this moment to arise,
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
Body of U.S. Military Expert Is Found
James Fallows, a national correspondent for The Atlantic magazine, wrote in an article on the magazine’s website that he had known “Jack” Wheeler since the early 1980s. A photo on the website shows a youthful, businesslike Wheeler in a dress shirt, tie and suspenders, in front of a map.
Wheeler, Fallows wrote, had spent much of his life trying to address “what he called the ’40 year open wound’ of Vietnam-era soldiers being spurned by the society that sent them to war.”
Mr Wheeler’s body was found in a trash dump as it tumbled out of a garbage truck in Delaware. In the NYTimes article the matter of just who might have done the killing is daintily skirted. Elsewhere the story is muddier. Mr Wheeler was a former military man, an initiator of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, and involved with the military-industrial complex. One must wonder a bit just what he knew and who stood to lose or gain by his death.
I won’t bother to quote the utterances of those newly elected representatives entering the halls of Congress these days, aside from to say that the shrill cries of cutting costs (which never include the military’s costs) is sure to assist in sending the nation further deeper into the “recession” soon to become a down-right Depression as towns, cities, counties and States begin to foreclose on themselves, the Feds frantically print more money thinking the solution may lie there whereas it is the lies of monetary policy, and everything to which it is connected, which are a great part of the problem. These are they guys who are now going to lead us with their hatchets in hand:
Of course, if one were to connect these little dots in the cosmos of our contemporary moment, one might reasonably come away with the conclusion that our immediate future is dim. There appears in these images the signal of a declension. Rather than gathering the will to look reality in the face, the prerequisite for then doing something about it, we have chosen a mixture of denial, rage, ranting, and electing the pasty-faced guys above to sort out our problems. It appears that the national community has jointly stuck its head in the sand, or perhaps some more unseemly place. Those above intend to do their “problem solving” by pulling the plug on most of the social services which one takes for granted – fire department, police, community library or swimming pool. Except, of course, the military. And so into this second decade of the new century, the sturm und drang continues, almost for sure to bring the country to a grinding halt. At this stage intelligence, rational thought, modesty, or any of the qualities the times and circumstances call for are out of the question. Rather we will get simple-minded slogans and a higher decibel level. One day not too far away I imagine social disturbances of a kind which will logically lead to the imposition of martial law. It seems that way in the tea-leaves I read, anyway. However dramatic all this might seem, perhaps it is good to place it in perspective and see how so very tiny our dots actually are in the context of reality.
A belated Happy New Year!