My karma seems to be on a war footing.
Last night, by accident, I tuned into "The Draft," one segment of a Public Broadcasting System trilogy. It made me cry a couple of times, but tears are cheap.
What does it mean to be a citizen of any country? What obligations, if any, attend on that circumstance? The United States has taken to the bully pulpit in the past on behalf of some lofty ideals -- "freedom" or "justice," for example. Freedom is good, but is there any personal willingness to pay a price for it? What price? What obligation? The questions are not abstract: They are personal.
Morality bangs American chimes, I think -- an overarching sense of decency and nourishment both for the moral individual and the people in his or her environment. But morality depends on having the time and energy to consider its ramifications. It is a luxury item and luxuries are not the lot of those who are underfed or undereducated, or writhing in poverty.
Watching "The Draft" made me think that my country, far from pursuing "the better angels of our nature," and far from holding out a beacon of hope and ease, would best find its umbrella statement not in lofty ideals like "freedom" but rather in a single word spoken long ago but not spoken often enough: "Business."
It is dispiriting to be called or drafted into a realm of lesser angels by policy makers of no wider and more fruitful vision. It is dispiriting to be offered little more than hypocrisy as a guiding light.
Yes, we may love God, but the god whose ranks we enter is a cheap date ... and we know it. To say we must fight the war because the war is what we're in short-circuits the energy and willingness to track the war back to its roots, the roots of vainglory and pocketbook.
I am so sorry!