It makes me cringe when people greet me with a "Happy Memorial Day." Happy? It's a holiday to remember those who gave their lives for our country. It's also a sad reminder of our continued failure to, as a world, live in peace as God intends.
Watch a military appropriations committee hearing on C-Span and it becomes evident that even as the U.S. military has been engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last decade-and-a-half, that funding for the military is based less on the needs of the soldiers sent in harm's way than as economic stimulus to the military contractors who write the largest checks to the congressional committee leaders' campaigns.
In 2011 I watched then General Petraeus and Secretary Gates advocate for body armor for the soldiers serving in Afghanistan. They did not want to add a penny to the budget. They wanted to shift some spending priorities from large ticket items destined to be mothballed to body armor asked for by the troops on the ground. Let's just say that congress was not about to shift its priorities to help the troops in harm's way.
Learning Ally volunteer John Hopkinson was recording Steven Pinker's recent book The Better Angels of Our Nature. After recording a section he came out and read some of Mr. Pinker's thoughts about how much less violent the modern world is compared to the past. This poem was my reaction. It was published in Richard Vargas' fine journal Mas Tequila Review in 2014.
Statistically Insignificant (A thought on Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature.)
Celebrating our evolved civility,
the author wields detailed diagrams
that present the percentage
of the American population
killed in wars in 2005 to be
what he calls,
“paint thin and
And I know a number
cruncher who will
tell you that
when you divide
945 dead by almost
300 million living
the result is
of the insignificant
100 percent of your son or daughter
or husband or wife
or brother or sister
or mother or father
or anyone you love
and that equals
Thoughts, large and small, from poet Tony Gruenewald.