Sunday, November 9, 2008

Waiting - By Jimmy Petrol

November 4 was election day. Of course, you will read this knowing what we cannot know here in the time warp that surrounds Petrol Central. You will know whether hope or fear has triumphed in American hearts.

Here in the bunker, there is a stillness that I have not felt since I sat in a Jeep that was set to carry me, my pitiful gear and my buddies to the airfield and then to war. We only waited the final order, the call to go from alert to move-out. It never came and I remain saner today than if it had come.

I also remain in America. Which is not what I would have done. A practical joker pried my final call in the matter from my confused and frightened mind; I headed for Canada at a dead run, the butt of a joke. All my buddies had a fine laugh.

Now we wait again, not just the young, clueless boys that go to the "front" this time, though. Today it is all of us.

And again I am sitting in my "jeep", it worth it to stay, to fight, to maybe fall?

It wasn't when it was just "war games" in a jungle far away.

But now, to my surprise, it is the only way.

Not because I find my fellow Americans to be, as a whole, brave or kind or hard-working or any other good and solid thing. I don't.

But rather because I am, by accident of birth, here. My grandparents (mostly) came here from across oceans and rivers, some legally, through Ellis Island, others at the point of the sword of starvation and across the Rio Grande. Because of their courage and desperation, I have led an easy, fat life.

The country they came to was different than it is today. In those days, the little shop-keeper, the tradesman, the skilled craftsman, hard-work and honesty were prized. Today they are just jokes; like Russian children, Americans hope first for riches and are eager to their chance at gangsterism and prostitution at any level; the gangsters of Enron and their close friends in government may be reviled, but they are most often emulated.

No. This is not the country my grandparents told me about. It is now a place of private armies (Lord Cheney's Blackwater), un-impeached but impeach able presidents and a political morality common most often to pirates. The business world is so pathetically corrupt that "ethics" classes are being offered in schools, since right and wrong are confusing to the amoral.

But it is still the place that I am. It is still the place that sheltered my ancestors (and yours, too) from the vagaries of vulgar governments and their religions.

Were the world less crowded, as it was around 1925, there may have been another way, another place just growing into the pleasant years of hard-work and growth. There are places like that: Chile, Argentina....we could all go there and pretend we are just moving to a better place, just like our ancestors did for us.

But it wouldn't be true.

The difference now is that the planet is dying, the fish are mostly gone and it doesn't matter where you are when the whole thing starts to crumble. You may as well forget isolationism as a survival strategy.

So, whether we now have that fool McCain, whose best idea for a Vice President is somebody he didn't even know, as long as it was a "she" thingy, or the Talented Mr Obama, who is not nearly as smart as he thinks he is (because there are so many others poised to outsmart him, like they did Jimmy Carter), we are still all in the same, sinking boat.

I reluctantly join Ms. Chow; I will stay here now, in my mind and heart an American, not because I am proud of America or Americans, but because only America has the wealth, power and ability to stem the tides that are killing our planet. Only America, which is emulated by all of the planet. Only America can lead the world into frugality and sustainable behaviors. Only America, land of the ultimate consumer, can lead the world away from consuming itself.

So I am happy to be placed, by strange accident of birth, in this country, where I can do the utmost to slow the stampeding human herd that runs headlong towards destruction. And like the late Misters Vonnegut and Twain, I have given up on human beings; I no longer think that they can be taught to act responsibly. But I think we can make it too expensive and painful to do anything else.

So if it is McCain and the Tomato, in I wade to harass, embarrass and impeach. If it is Obama and friends, in I go to block the Limbaughs, Bushes and Clintons (!) that will assail him. Whichever, I find that I am unwilling to go quietly into the night, after all.

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