Watching a little television on a Sunday night in May I was assaulted by the commercial advertising my son-in-law sells. A previous show on PBS from Great Britain had entertained us, uninterrupted, with a drama titled "South Riding" It was a masterpiece.
Then, wanting to watch Horatio Caine's final episode of the season on "CSI: Miami," we sat through more than a dozen loud commercial pitches for our attention, before a wounded Lieutenant Caine was left on the ground to endure the long summer break.
Circuses and Bread. TV, professional sports all the time, and pizza everywhere. The American Empire declines, while we watch passively.
Around my house I have books, magazines, newspapers, several musical instruments, and a collection of LP records, cassettes, and CDs. Shutting off the television provides time to read, enjoy music, think, talk, write letters, essays, and poems.
This past week has marked a milestone in American history. Our terrorist enemy number one, Bin Laden, has been killed by a commando team after a ten-year hunt. President Obama has just reported why and how it was done.
I am taken back over my lifetime of listening to Presidents. Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and George W. Bush. From the White House our Presidents have spoken to us about war, sacrifice, and the defeat of America's enemies. But a couple are still out there, in Cuba and Korea.
It was during the Korean War that I first put on a military uniform, and it was during the energy crisis of Jimmy Carter that I took it off. I went to GTMO with the Navy four times, before it became an off-shore prison where United States civil and military regulations were adjusted.
What have we learned about war, peace, and freedom in seventy five years?
Do the religions of our forebears instruct us?
What are we teaching our children today?
Perhaps it is "Do not kill, steal, or bear false witness."
This week, as we reflect on what just happened in Pakistan, it can be a time to ask where should America be headed in this world. Who is our neighbor? And how can we be of service?