Father’s Day Dreaming
Father’s Day Dreaming
An Open Letter to My Son, Demian
June 15, 2008
By: DI Foreign Policy Editor, Robert Rodes (Dusty) Schoch
(With Trailing Contributions from
Virginia Attorney, Mike Murphy and
Notre Dame Law Professor Robert E. Rodes III)
I woke up today and made a mistake. I read the newspaper. It was supposed to be a day of quiet celebration for us …as fathers. But, reading the paper made me question whether I made a mistake 35-years ago helping to bring a child into this world…this world crumbling around me.
Don’t get me wrong – I hated that Armageddon story when I read it the first time – in the Bible’s “Revelations”. But I suspect the author of that work was more than a little mad. He described seeing “visions” of things that clearly weren’t there. What I’m dealing with this morning are visions of what IS. I made the mistake of reading the news. With the paper now in the recycling bin, let me share with you my concerns with what … stuck – this Sunday, June 15, 2008:
A metaphorical image for what I see in the news today is America in the form of its prior NY Twin Towers – right at the moment the news casters showed us pictures of flames in the first tower. Because I know now what happened next back on 9/11, 2001, I see America now itself as those Twin Towers. The North tower in my metaphoric vision stands for American industry, and the South for its soul (it’s morality). One is on fire and soon both will be, and soon thereafter both will come crashing to the ground. It’s not going to be slow, like with Rome. It’s going to be faster than anything that’s ever happened to the world’s strongest nation in any point in history. The speed is evident in everything I saw today in the news.
I won’t give the stories in any preconceived or rationally-constructed sequence. I want my Father’s Day stream of consciousness simply to flow. Foremost in my newly-downloaded dad’s databank, is the picture of our bully President Bush, in the company of cohorts from Russia, France, Germany and even China plotting a war with Iran wholly oblivious of the fact they are simply kindling evil and danger by embodying evil and danger. Of course Iran has just as much right to play with uranium as the already-nuke nations. Of course the mob of the strong justifies its bullying by conjuring the word “evil” to describe the weaker outsider (non-nuclear nation). We already have 7 irresponsible nations armed with nuclear arsenals and yet are more concerned with proliferation than elimination. We want to secure our positions among the self-selected bullies with permission to walk about in the nuclear neighborhood.
Next I see our second largest brewery fixing to sell itself to Bavaria—casting thousands more American bread-winners into future bread lines. Miller already belongs to England; so why shouldn’t Bud join the industrial bailout of America’s toppling twin towers. The twin towers epitomized, housed and embodied American corporate industrial might. Since 9/11 I have watched the fat-cat corporate mongols (I used to honor them with “mogul” monikers, but they are clearly today’s barbarians…this time storming OUT of the gates to the city they set on fire) export its workers’ jobs to slave-driven third-world nations while “we the people” sit blithely by, condoning the treason by buying the exported product at Wallymart , a.k.a. The China Store. No more furniture made in High Point where furniture in America was born and raised. No more electronic hardware made in California’s silicon valley where it was conceived and fostered. The North Tower of America – its industrial core is now pretty much up in flames; the fat cats of industry who are exporting her piecemeal to China and India are moving into new digs in the new global gangster hole in the Middle Eastern wall… a little vacation spot for escapee global billionaires called Dubai. A few feet off the coast of Dubai you’ll find them in an Arab-fabricated little archipelago called “The World”–the brave new world of the bandits who sold America and escaped to their new “water world”. The parallels in this and the apocalyptic Costner movie are creepy scary.
As for America’s South tower…its morality…the newspaper was even more pregnant with pictures of flames that will fuel the on-coming collapse. In the midst of our oil crisis, our mortgage foreclosure crisis (one-tenth of our population will suffer the loss of their homes under the collapse of the mortgage bubble’s bursting), we still have featured in the auto section of our news a big spread on Mercedez Benz’ newest gas guzzler that gets 12 MPG and makes up for it by paying a “gas guzzler’s surtax” that puts money back into the tills of a government (America’s) more concerned with corporate profits than saving the Earth from globally-warmed extinction. Shame on the corporate-owned newspapers that publish for profit that fat-cat car obscenity. But how can there be “morality” without some vestige of intelligence? The “conservative” pundit in my paper’s news today is blaming the whole problem of gas prices on liberals who keep Exxon-Mobile from drilling for more oil off our North Carolina shores. As if more oil is going to save us…when it was oil that motivated the toppling of the twin towers and literally oil that exploded them, and oil that is pumped and burned by 6 billion of us to the end that when the twin towers of America’s industry and soul are finally flush upon Earth’s ground zero, it will probably be curtain calling time not only for the world’s formerly foremost nation but for the world itself. It is we who today say “yes” “yes” Yes!” to pornographic and sadistic reality TV in lieu of art; it is we who say yes to a leadership which has said no to earth-saving Kyoto protocols; It is we who have not insisted on the impeachment for the greatest candidate since Hitler for the moniker of “Anti-Christ”.
My father’s day ruminations were/are the result of my concern for the future of my 35-year old son who this morning came in and gave me a hug for having taken part in bringing him forth to this day. I will probably be here when the twin towers of America’s former industry and morality resoundingly reach ground zero. That’s going to happen faster than anyone can imagine. The only reason our present stage of economic depression isn’t declared is that we’re living in a state of denial pretty much identical to the one we were in when we were gazing at the flames in both the North and South towers in NY wondering how long it would take the NY firemen to put them out.
These fires I’ve cited in the news paper today aren’t going to be put out. America has allowed its corporate fat cats to sell its industrial heart to foreign slave traders; America has allowed its fear and greed to sell its soul to those who would invade nations and kill hundreds of thousands of people to preserve a status quo that puts America’s commercial interests and aspirations above the priority of preserving life on earth…the only life we know for sure exists in this universe of ours.
I wish my little sojourn into global circumspection this day might have ended on a happier note. I’m constrained to borrow my concluding surmise from Robert Frost –
Some say the world will end in fire;
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
By the way, Demian, my son: Thanks for the hug. I really needed it. I wish only I could be here when you’re 65 to return it, because I know you’ll be needing it then much more than I now. So know now I’ll be thinking of you then, and if Einstein was right about the warping of time and space, you will still be feeling that hug if between now and then you’ve managed, as I know you will, to have hung on to your soul. It’s going to be a hell of a ride for you because of the choices made by your ancestors in their handling and husbandry of your earth. And as clear as we can see the tsunami’s, tornadoes and apocalyptic horses heading our way, it’s clear that there’s never a time to abandon either hope or your pursuit of happiness. I wish I could give you a map to help you steer around the hurdles and pitfalls of your future. But at this point, I can only give you this, as a father’s day ray of hope:
God has given us both a map and a compass to guide us. The map is the design and fabric of the earth and the universe beyond. The compass is the heart. The heart beats with the pulse of all life. Our minds are free to choose the roads we take on our journey of life, and if we keep and follow the compass, it will be a good trip.
Michael K. Murphy
DI Contributor and Virginia Attorney
I imagine that as 300 A.D. slid toward the 400s there were certain to be some Roman fathers who must have sat quietly with their thoughts outside their homes on many a warm summer’s evening, a glass of wine to sip and a bowl of olives and a bit of bread to pick at by their sides as warm Mediterranean breezes stirred their thoughts while their wives and children readied themselves for the night inside, secure for the moment.
These fathers felt a powerful connection to the past greatness of the Roman Republic — as they were its natural and lineal heirs and as their children would be; yet they had become only mute witnesses to Rome’s evident decline from the legitimacy that the Republic had conferred upon Rome while the Republic was still alive. Now, many years after the Empire had supplanted the Republic, the internal decay that the Empire brought would be evident, not at first, not for many years, but by now. Maybe not all understood what was happening, but certainly some did; some could see very clearly that Rome’s days of glory and legitimacy had passed and what was left of it were only the old forms in society and government, for example, that many would desperately cling to for security. Others, these men, would just sip their evening wine and pick at some food and smell the warm air off the Sea and dream of what might have been for their children but which they could no longer give them.
Professor (of Law) Robert E. Rodes III
University of Notre Dame
(and Dusty’s esteemed cousin)
Conclude Dusty’s Father’s Day Lament with
Some back and forth discussion about
History and current events.
(Professor Rodes in Blue, Dusty in red)
Thanks for this. It is a pleasure to find you still fighting the good fight. But it came just after the Supreme Court Guantanamo case, so I see rather more glimmers of hope than you seem to. Indignation is simple, and rightly so, but history is complicated.
I am simply indignant with that which is about to become history. History is complicated by the same process that makes religion subject to dogmatic debate: the myopias and dysgraphias of men as observers and reporters. With Guantanamo,little and late beats nothing at all. I concede it. But in the case of Guantanamo’s belated judicial scrutiny – it soothes me solely with the relief I feel when I cease smashing my toe with a hammer. Those poor souls have been in our torture chambers the better part of a decade. A decade of immutable and historically iconic disgrace. If all nine Justices drank world-transcending cool-aide on the Supreme Court steps in a ritual show of collective American judicial contrition, I believe the scales of justice might tip again towards the horizontal.
When your son was born 35 years ago, did you think you would live to see the end of apartheid in South Africa?
I did in fact, because I’d been to school and confidently debated the issue with sons of Africaners. All slaves eventually find freedom because their state is the most unnatural. What I didn’t expect is what I have since found – i.e. that the sequelae of that disease of disparities is—at least for an evolutionary period of adjustment– more malignant that the disease. But most healings come with crises.
Did I think I would live to see a black Catholic priest presiding over an all white congregation in the middle of Tennessee?
A book just surfaced in our motley collection, The Proud Tower, by Barbara Tuchman, which I hadn’t looked at for many years. It’s about the period from 1890 to the First World War. Things were bad then too. There were terrorist incidents then too. The suspects weren’t imprisoned; they were hanged. The fat cat industrialists didn’t outsource their work to cheap labor abroad; they kept a supply of cheap labor at home by busting unions. We fought a war with rather less justification than this one, and involved ourselves in a similar fight to make the spoils safe for American business.
Our history as invasive genocidal self-righteous raiders of the lost arc of God began at Plymouth Rock, and at the same time I assert such, I salute you for your more moderate appreciation of the yin/yang flow of everything. I suppose I’m simply “stuck” with the belief that our oscillations from yin to yang are now (with corporately-connived denials and continuities in globally-warming policy) are a quantum leap ahead of what has gone before. Before either of us were fathers, the nation’s # 1 sage said quite accurately, “Everybody talks about the weather but no one DOES anything about it.” Twain would be blushing at his own shortsightedness. We were steaming down and ecologically damning rivers even in his day. But there were no corporations capable of dictating the global execution of their dollar-driven ethic/policy. Every civilization’s wealth has been derived from slavery. Plus ca change. What I rue is the death/dearth of America as a beacon/paradigm/template/model of perceived “good”. My father’s day lament was more for the loss of my country as a world lantern in the new dark age of environmental and economic Armageddon. When the Euro and the crude barrel jointly displace the Dollar, the axis of the world will likely spin from eccentric to chaotic. The “big brother” defender of the downtrodden and bullied is now the worst bully on the block. There’s nothing (quantitatively) like our taking over 660,000 Iraqi civilian lives in America’s history from Columbus. There were veritable villains in WWI. We were both victims and perps in the Civil War, saviors in WWII, justifiably (?) red scared in Korea and Nam, but without excuse…or even the pretense of it in Iraq. And an infinitely more circumspect and savy world knows it. And the world will never forget. And if we are able to get “philosophical” about having waged unprovoked wars of unadulterated acquisition and aggression, we are building up momentum for another holocaust and justifying—in fascistic style– the first one in the process. The dream of America as big-brother guardian of the meek and friend of the Earth is no more. It’s time for America to declare peace and mea culpa so that the healing process can begin. Scarred forever, we could confess, recover and make amends. Am I far off when I characterize the bottom line of your position as…”We’ve been bad before so… what’s the harm of a little reprise of a perennial play” ? Bob, I simply can’t get out of my own mind the historic fact that Hitler’s seminal battle cry was “Onward, Christian soldiers”. The Vatican has to this day never withdrawn its concordance with that proclamation. My fright on that account is revived today by the fundamentalist Christian Right currently continuing to condone the Bush war in Iraq as divine mission. When minds such as yours find philosophical (or theological) solace for our current sins in our past sins, my fright soars into a jet stream of awfulness.
Happy Father’s Day…to all.