As I have reported before in this column, the only time I heard a voice I’m sure didn’t come from my own head was after the first Gulf War. George Herbert Walker Bush was the president, and that war was the straw that broke the spirit’s back in America.
I was living in Silicon Valley at the time, and the day after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait I knew that war was a fait accompli. I wrote and gave speeches to that effect, and was chided by activists who, behind the curve as always, said I should be working to prevent the war, rather than talking about preparing for its aftermath.
George Herbert Walker Bush assembled a coalition, obtained UN approval, and killed an estimated 100,000 Iraqis in a matter of weeks, with a loss of less than 400 America lives.
It was a glorious victory, which supposedly finally exorcized the ghost of America’s defeat in Vietnam. This grotesque display of American power and demonstration of new military technology was foreseen, so why was I in such a funk after it was over?
The funk wasn’t personal. I suffered from depression in my 20’s, and this had a totally different ‘feel’ to it. For a few weeks I kept asking myself, ‘what is this mood?’
Prior to the war, I started taking regular meditations in the hills of South San Francisco Bay, followed by walks overlooking the bay. The mind-as-thought would fall completely silent, time and becoming would end, and the ‘peace that passes all understanding’ would ensue. During a particularly strong meditative state, I again asked, what is this persistent funk?
A voice in one’s silent brain reverberated with a slight tone of exasperation, “You’re in mourning.” I felt the instantaneous relief you get when something that’s been gnawing at you is suddenly revealed and named for what it is.
I immediately asked, what am I mourning? “You’re mourning the death of your nation’s soul,” came the instantaneous response. That was 1991, during the administration of George Herbert Walker Bush, weeks following America’s one-sided victory over one of our Middle East dictator allies in the ‘80’s, Saddam Hussein.
So the death of America’s soul occurred during Bush Senior’s administration. The set-up first Gulf War was the straw that broke the spirit’s back.
After the squandered Clinton years, darkness stepped into the vacuum in the form of Bush Junior, who used 9.11 in a desire to surpass daddy by invading Iraq and ‘finishing the job.’
That evil act (along with the misguided war of Afghanistan, which continues to this day) completely destabilized the Middle East, gave the world the idiotic ‘global war on terror,’ led to the Syrian and Yemenese tragedies, flooded and Europe with refugees, and effectively destroyed the European Union.
Then came another wasted eight years with the Obama Interregnum, when Bush Junior’s crimes against humanity were whitewashed with Barack’s wonkish skill, giving rise to a genuine fascist-at-heart after backward looking Democrats nominated Hillary Clinton.
So how does a nation regain its soul? The mainstream media focuses on the absurdities of organized religion, such as Trump not reciting the Apostles Creed at Bush’s funeral.
The strictly secular conventional wisdom of the left cannot meet the challenge either. This narrative holds that “the disruptions of globalization, the 2008 financial crisis, and the collapse of traditional political parties” are the reasons “the last bulwarks against nationalism are gone.”
Fifty years on, the cataclysms of 1968 are being revisited, mainly to convince people that things could be worse. That year ended with the awe-inspiring Apollo 8 mission, the first to circle the moon and show the entire Earth floating in space.
Movies and documentaries about the past are almost always about the present however. That’s why Dan Rather’s comment, “Darkness does not last,” rings hollow.
A potentially intelligent species can go into permanent eclipse, and there is a real and present danger the human spiritual potential will be lost.
The rebirth of a particular people is not what is required, but the birth of a new human being. We are no longer distinct peoples, belonging to nations, but a totally interconnected species that have put the Earth and ourselves in peril at our own hands.
However, what human hands have wrought, our own minds and hearts can change.