As the people of the United States of America set about the process of determining who shall preside over its mighty mish-mash of socio/economic inequity, mediaeval religiosity and cultural turmoil, it does to reflect on the nature of power and choice.He goes on to offer several apposite quotes. Among my favorites:
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people are so full of doubts.And…—Bertrand Russell
What lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.The latter quotation bears some thinking about. One of those to keep in your back pocket whenever this or that politician justifies a slaughter by saying, “We had no choice.”—Aristotle
I should add that the observation by Jones I’ve quoted up top is asterisked to include this balancing disclaimer: “Pace my American friends, whose views represent for me everything that is rational, harmonious, enlightened and noble about their remarkable nation.”
Neither Jones nor I mean to suggest that every American is a member of the War Party. Some, like William Stafford, were members of another party—the one that celebrates moments and places like this one (from the indispensable Stafford collection, The Way It Is: New & Selected Poems:
At the Un-National Monument along the Canadian Border
This is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky.
Birds fly here without any sound,
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed—or were killed—on this ground
hallowed by neglect and an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.