Monday, January 24, 2011

A Day that will live in Fantasy

Have you noticed all the "anniversaries" our national media has been observing lately? Strangely, it's like our country lives a lot in its past.  Some nostalgia for days gone by is not to be dismissed; after all, if everyone forgot, we'd have no history, no identity.  But it seems to have gone a bit far--like we're spending more time looking backward than forward. I saw a poll where more Americans than ever think our country's best days are behind us--perhaps all these memorials are a manifestation of these feelings. Here is but a few examples in the past week:

The "architects" of the Iraq war got together to commemorate themselves for what they did 20 years ago. At the time, I stood on a cold, snowy street corner with a handful of fellow pacifists holding signs saying things like "No Blood for Oil."  We got cheers, we got the finger, we got car horns. I have not changed my opinion since then.

Fifty years ago President Kennedy was inaugurated. As part of the festivities, he gave us an incredibly good speech.  Wasn't around for that one, but my pregnant Mother was doing her best for our country during his administration.

Twenty-five years ago the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded. Where were you then? the media asks. Answer: in college, taking an Interim course called "Children's Theatre."  I played "Yellow" in one memorable scene. Things looked dire for America, but at least one place was coming up rainbows!

And on one very busy day 30 years ago, January 20, 1981, Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, becoming our oldest President ever, and all those Iran hostages were freed--one of the most historic days in 20th Century American history.....except that day doesn't exist!

For me anyway.

You see, I left for Australia to be an exchange student for a year on January 19th, flying over the Pacific and the International Dateline. I arrived on January 21st.  January 20th never existed.  The Western world took a noticeable shift....and so did I!


Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism.  It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.
                                                          --Vaclav Havel,  Disturbing the Peace, ch. 5

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