Sunday, May 7, 2017

Have we lost our way?

I watched an interesting segment on 60 Minutes this evening. I know, geez old timer. When did your father's viewing habits kick in? Hey, at least I'm not watching FBI (with Efrem Zimbalist Jr.). We all change over time, our viewing habits as well as other things. We get older and with that age comes a new perspective. Sometimes you just need to hear a point of view you haven't considered before.

Now the segment didn't really give me a new perspective, however at some point it did give me pause to consider how I view this nations foreign policy when it comes to war. The 60 Minutes episode was an interview with Ben Ferencz, the last surviving prosecutor of the Neuremberg trials. He recounted his prosecution of Nazi war criminals who systematically hunted down Jewish people who lived all over Eastern Europe. Mr. Ferencz is now ninety-seven years old. He has made it his mission to crusade against war. He is still active and highly respected in the international law community (as reported by CBS News).

In listening to him speak I was struck by why we fought this war and the war before that. In those times the United States largely kept to itself in international matters. We were a country that was prone to isolationism. WWI was largely a political war. It was about ideologies. It was about aggression of one civilized country against others.  WWII was political, but it was also very different. By the end of the war in Europe, it had become clear that it was more than just a war of ideology. It was a war of saving humanity from ourselves.

The next wars became nothing more than one ideology against another. It was communism versus democracy, at least our version of democracy. It played out without the thought of humanity. We have lost our way. We have pitted one puppet insurgent against another with little thought to the long view of the world. We have wrapped our short term interests around our flag and told ourselves we're doing it for the innocents. Yet nothing can be further from the truth.

It's time the United States looks to its past and the greatest moments of our history. We were the saviors, not because our politics were right, it was because our hearts were right, our passion for life was strong. We chose humanity over tyranny because no one else could. The internal struggles of nations should no longer be our concern. Only when those struggles are imposed on innocents that can't defend themselves should we step in and then only in the gravest of situations.

The world has always been a violent place. It is time we no longer commit ourselves to infighting when one dictator or petty warlord wishes to overthrow another. We must let others play their own games of death. It is not our game to play. The army doesn't get involved when one guy shoots another at the corner of Fifth and Main. We should no longer be the police of the world. Does a change in government in Syria, Sudan, Congo, or Kazakhstan really alter our world? Hardly.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Boys of summer

The weather warms and the dust swirls upon a once empty lot covered with dirt. But the dirt field is empty no longer. It is filled with the boys of summer. And I do mean, boys of summer.

With the coming of spring, I have been lured back to the ruddy infields and weed-infused green outfields of baseball diamonds strewn around the Midwest. I grew up on such a field where North of 50 and I learned the great American past time. I learned to throw against concrete steps and learned to catch as that ball came screaming back at me. You could trace how well I learned by how each month I had fewer and fewer bruises on my legs.

We played pickup at an overgrown diamond three doors down from our home. Our 'home field' even had its own backstop, a real one that arched overhead. North of 50 had an incredible pitching arm. I watched him break a batting helmet of a poor little neighborhood boy with his fastball. It was all an accident, but it made you stop and think about going up against him. He took that arm into high school and did pretty well  from the mound.

My journey renewed itself this month and the memories came flooding back as I watched seven and eight year old boys, little boys, boys who learned to wear baseball caps the proper way, learned to strap a belt through a uniform pants and learned to pound the plate with their bat. Then they held the bat up high and waited for their first pitch.

The dust filled the air as the breezes blew across the chilled infield. But smells it is said, trigger some of the strongest memories. My grandson, Ragin Cage is learning to hold his glove, catch a fly and a grounder and swing a bat, hopefully at something other than a post or a tree. I see the excitement in his eyes as he now has teammates.

I remember those days, those times in my life when all I could think about was finding enough kids to play some pickup. The only this missing these days is the crack of a wooden bat. 'Ting', just doesn't do it for me, if you get my meaning.

Bottom of the third ... who's up coach?