All good things in all good time
Rummaging through some boxes in my garage in preparation for a yard sale, I came across an item that swept me back about 20 years. Actually, being the pack rat that I am, there were more than a few that brought back memories, but this one stood out. It was a decal of a peace symbol in front of an American flag bisected by a lightning bolt. Around the circumference was the phrase, “All good things in all good time.” I remembered almost immediately that I’d bought it from School Kids Records although I didn’t know exactly when and certainly not why. The tiny copyright told me the when – sometime after 1987 – but the answer to the why is a bit less cut and dried. Peace never goes out of fashion but even that falls shy of an explanation. On the other hand, perhaps no explanation is needed; advocating for peace requires no justification. But therein lies the problem. For some reason that defies all common sense, peaceniks are considered somehow out of the mainstream, as if peace were a bad thing. It seems that society would have us believe that virtually all peace advocates are either Quakers, fossilized hippies or ivory-tower intellectuals divorced from the real world. Do we live in such a militaristic society that a perpetual state of war is inevitable and that anyone seeking an alternative is automatically shunned? Like old soldiers, to lapse into the banal, old peaceniks never die… they just fade away. I suspect, though, that folks of my leftie ilk have a lot more in common with militarists than one might suspect. We both keep fighting the battle long after it’s been won or lost, long after our relevance has been obscured by changing times and changing guards. But that’s an argument for another day. No, the argument to be made from this decal is that the battles worth fighting are the ones worth losing. Peace, most would argue, is a valid ideal, but we run into trouble with the details. Right-wingers would argue that peace is not possible until and unless the other side sees the error of its ways and acquiesces. We lefties don’t want to be bothered with the details; we know that war is never the answer and that’s that. One of the perplexing questions of our time is not so much how we allowed ourselves to get into an immoral and unnecessary war – governments, cultures and tribes have been fighting immoral and unnecessary wars forever – but why there is no outcry, no protest, no demands for impeachment. Oh sure, we see token demonstrations and public critiques, but no real ’60s-style street fighting. The obvious reason is that not having a draft takes the wind completely out of the sails of any mass uprising by college students. But given the overwhelming evidence that grows every day (hello Scott McClellan) that this war on Iraq was foisted upon us from concocted evidence and a flimsy-bordering-on-nonexistent rationale, Bush and Cheney should have been removed from office at least two years ago. The worst mindset we can adhere to, and probably the biggest sin of a myriad of sins this administration is guilty of, is that it has convinced some folks that wars can and should be fought as anything less than a last resort. There are now those who argue with seeming conviction that preemptive war is a viable option and that anyone who thinks otherwise is an “appeaser.” They throw out the Neville Chamberlain example without even knowing what it was that he did to earn the dubious distinction. The very definition of war that we learned in Poli Sci 101, that it is the condition that occurs when all diplomatic efforts have failed and every attempt at averting violence has been exhausted, seems to have been dismissed by this macho culture. Fortunately, for the first time in almost eight years, there is a ray of hope on the horizon. Once President Obama takes office, sanity will begin being restored. It won’t happen overnight; it won’t happen in our lifetimes or our children’s or our grandchildren’s, but the seed will have been planted. Decades hence, the first eight years of the 21st century will be viewed as an aberration, a sliver of time that was not characteristic of an advanced civilization that knew better. And centuries hence, somebody will dig up an airtight time capsule and discover a decal of a peace symbol and an American flag that said “All good things in all good time” and realize that a few folks had it figured out way back then. Ogi may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on “Triad Today” hosted by Jim Longworth on ABC 45 at 6:30 a.m. Fridays and on WMYV 48 at 10 p.m. Sundays.