Killing Children, Worshiping Guns, and Burying Heroism in a Doomed Empire.
What if you knew her
and found her
dead on the ground?
Choose your icon now. Because for the rest of your morally destined life your fist can only grasp one metallic symbol of what you actually believe is most important. It is time to lay all the wages of sin on one turn of the cards.
You want to understand but no amount of politicized anger will allow you to process this fusillade of death straight from the laughing devil's hand. You want to be comforted but no words will help. You want to be held but the media screens cannot warm your skin. You want death for anyone but the kids. Death comes for the kids. Maybe those parents were people you knew until the bolt snapped forward. Old friends, work mates, drinking buddies. They are gone now and they are gone for good.
We want to place a nationalist blame on "Them" but in this turn there is only a grey American "us". We all want to see a celebritized hero standing in the mirror, but even an elected Republican can't pray with gun hand now. Still, we fall easily back to the swaddling cloth of political tribalism.
Bide the public perceptions fade-time then. Make another wager on partisan lockstep obstruction. Tag it with a childish slogan, clothed in the tired conformity of new conservatism's immaculate self-destructive anger. But in the meantime, tell me the difference between a brimstone-and-doom preacher on an urban street corner and a Republican politician from some hell-torn gerrymanderland?
One is an acolyte of his delusional network of self adulating heroism. One is ranting alone in the cold winds of a concrete Gomorra where hosing blood off the sidewalk is a common enough task for old women.
Groan and raise fists against the slow anguished parade of less American, less human, less Christian citizens. The enemy across the street. Your rage de vivre burns into an obsession with fantasies of death. Rally the mob "against" and light your greasy torches because you are called, you are chosen, you are the blessed activist chosen to "wake up" the sleeping liberal sheep.
March your mob down to the sewered sea of America's new conservatism and witness one last sunset across a foaming red gyre of failed moral destiny. Line up, and proud, to the monied trough where they are once again handing out childish things by the armload. Put away reason. Put away faith. Put away the discipline of thinking about anything and replace it with a partisan belligerence of believing you are right about everything.
Well, sure sure, and there you go again Peggy. But this will be the last time for the blank verse devotionals. Enjoy that last arrogant glass of K Street fraternization with the Reagan-boys. The dice rolled hard, as they often do just when the men who worship power were turned away. See them distracted from humanity by their frets about hoarded gold and dreams of salvaging a rotted empire. The gilded calf of Republican "faith" can no longer be hidden behind the burning crosses of your sin-to-win partisanship.
Watch the big wheel turn. In the gambling hall of heroes the only real moral prize is to see another generation of powdered bones paved into a new, low, step up the great pyramid of human moral destiny. Children's blood is no kind of mortar there. A gun is proof you are more willing to kill for your faith, than die for it. Hold breath then, as the dark-jacketed cardmaster slides the chits across the green felt. Six, two and hold 'em. But let the devil count the cards. Because even the children of the NRA's God can only enter heaven if they die unarmed.
You can never again be equally true to a gun in your hand and a cross on your neck.
When death comes for the kids you quietly trundle off the parents where they won't be seen in daylight anymore. And exactly how many is too many? An un-nameable but undeniably self-wrought terror.
Anything but this.
Take another tower and shrug it off, because Al Qaeda has done nothing to harm America's moral watchworks compared to what your gun worshiping culture has wrought. When is it too late for self described Christians to put down your swords ?
Still, allegedly grown men fall back on the grand ole' party line. Choose to join them in a bloodsport against reason itself. Or fall to your knees in the public square. Either way, it is the last genuine moral choice you will ever make. Beg forgiveness and you can hold in your hand another trembling hand, perhaps your own in prayer, perhaps a stranger's in mourning. A simple interweaving of fingers. Let's be clear; a genuine moral life will stay bittersweet to the dregs of your fame-less days.
In the end isn't that what this entire descent into cult following extremism on the right all about? Aren't you really just lost among the throngs, desperate to reforge your identity into that of a glorified talk show circuit hero? (And why doesn't this make it the talk shows' fault ?) Well, someone has to bury the dead my friend, and no celebrity status obtains from the turning of the spade.
Easy now to lay your soul entire against a new wager. The promise of fame and power and television appearances, where the only honest prayer you'll ever make is that the party has your back when the reaper counts his due. Steal your black heart, stare into the furnace where the children's bones still glow and raise your hate fueled fist.
Lo, it will be an easy life if you choose to worship the gun. Pats on the back for your conforming rage against weaker citizens. A flag in the driveway will shield you from ever having to admit you were the opposite of the most informed contributor to any discourse. Go on, keep listening with your pretty little mouth. Know this about twenty-odd pine boxes however. None of them is long enough to contain a rifle and they are going into dirt with a cargo un-redeemed by your blue steel religion.
So here endeth the lesson:
The refugees of our generation have been chosen, the cornerstone of our generation's moral testing has been thus laid. The awful, but inescapable, moral choices we face never come in the forms that patriotic fantasy or partisan doctrine prepared us for. Think Hurricane Katrina, think four or five simultaneous Nuclear meltdowns outside Tokyo. Think Tsunami.
Idaho does not make the list this season.
There will be no painted moment of sunbeamed rays in a clearing for any of us. True faith offers no hope for heroic adulation in any of these battered lives we all live alone. Righteousness can always celebrate the fisted gun in a parade down main. The only promise rightness offers is a long march in the mud, among equal strangers, and a lonely death whose pain we cannot ever choose.
And cannot ever choose.
The devil will gladly advance you a gay reward for something vague and mumbled about the future pull of a trigger to your righteously chambered round. Celebrity and fame and every follower a brave leader in his own mind. Who wouldn't be tempted? Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party, as the man said. Raise the wager past gone, lift your gun hand high as a born-again Republican. Thrown in your every comfort for the hero's reward of a flag draped coffin, so long as it is not your own.
Any length will do.
It boils down to a hero's choice for us all. That fastest shrinking word we have ever trained ourselves, as Americans, to abuse at every layer of intellectual meaning.
It's origins are from those French you are proud to hate. Pronounced exactly the same but spelled different, with a sublime difference of meaning. Before that from Latin, and down long-dead roads through the ages, I suppose. Try it in Jefferson's only published book, if you need a patriotic crutch. A simple word, hidden by old women in other ages when righteous men immolated their liberal enemies on cross-shaped poles. A word, and a prayer.
A simple instruction scratched into wet clay, by 12 moral men, in an age when the sword was a tool for killing liberals and the death draped cross was a common enough roadside marker, used to show the entrance to every new political realm.
Gun. Cross. Heartbeat.
Heroes we bury, killing we worship.
Heureux ceux qui procurent la paix, car ils seront dit les enfants de Dieu.
Translate it yourself tough guy, my hands are shaking to much to write another word.