WE FOUGHT FOR A McDONALD’S IN SAIGON?

At least we had a great time on the Fourth!

In Letters to the Editor, Greenfield Recorder: “Almost exactly 50 years ago, on June 15, 1969, Harold (Pug) Shattuck Jr. (GHS 1966) involuntarily sacrificed his young 20-year-old life so that downtown Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) could now have a McDonald’s! . . . OMG . . . Succinctly.” John Romanovich III (GHS 1964).

I wanted to tell Mr. Romanovich: Exactly when did we ever think that we knew the final outcome of anything?

 

People ask me what I think about the Democratic candidates’ debates.

“I didn’t see them.”

“Who’s your favorite candidate?”

I struggle, so they break it down for me. Elizabeth Warren is so smart, but unelectable [Why?]. Joe Biden’s from another era and Sanders isn’t very personable, but that Kamala Harris—watch out!

Most important, they say, is to get rid of You Know Who. You Know Who, of course, is thrilled to get all this negative attention, he positively thrives on it, but that hasn’t deterred members of the Resistance, who practically cough and choke in their efforts to come up with a word that will capture how much they despise, hate, loathe, abhor, abominate, etc., him.

I remain quiet, but inside what I’m thinking is: Really? The most important thing is to get rid of You Know Who?

First, You Know Who is the puppet dangled by conditions: Ignorance, Racism, Out-of-Control Capitalism, Insularity, Materialism. You  might get rid of You Know Who in the ballot box, but You Know Who 2, like the Kims of North Korea, is waiting in the wings as long as conditions remain the same.

Second, the most important thing is to get rid of You Know Who is like saying that there’s a terrible conflagration rushing towards my home so what I must do right away is get rid of the sign on top of the driveway because it’s made of wood. Maybe hurry out with the water spray bottle that I use to discipline Harry. One look at it and he runs away, maybe the conflagration will do the same thing.

We think so small. We think so slow, while life moves so much faster..

Am I the only one who can’t get interested in politics because she doesn’t think that’s the level on which to play this game? Or maybe it’s one of many levels, but not the most important despite all the media attention showered on it?

So we get someone into office who believes in global warming and cares about disappearing species (including humans) more than about money. We may rejoin the Paris Accords but still contend with a system saturated with money and privilege, and a military complex that will probably label the predicted 200 million climate change refugees as serious terrorist threats, and therefore require more arms, more planes, more submarines, more nuclear weapons, etc. And you know what? By 2050, when 200 million refugees are predicted, a few may indeed loosen terror on a world that caused and then ignored their suffering, leading to even more fear, more partisanship, and a louder call to arms.

I no longer believe that revolution can take place at the top, but I think it can happen on the bottom. On the bottom is you and me.

I think about a spiritual revolution. I think about people recognizing what’s at stake and putting away small concerns, pooling resources, and taking responsibility for what’s transpiring on this beautiful earth rather than expending their energy on hate and blame. I imagine full engagement in small towns and on the streets of big cities, and of training the next generation not just to make money but to continue the fight because it will take more than a lifetime or two.

Cathedrals were once built that way, generation after generation of family craftsmen. We can all be craftsmen and craftswomen in the rebuilding of our society and the world, transmitting our experience and skill to the next generation, and the one after that.

“The situation is hopeless,” cellist Pablo Casals once said. “So what’s the next step?”