Too Much of Everything is Just Enough
by Edgar J. Steele
August 6, 2004
"The most important thing in life is not the triumph but
The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."
--- Baron Pierre de Courbertin (1863-1931), French founder of the International Olympic Committee and the man who single handedly revived the Olympic Games
much of everything is just enough!"
--- "I Need a Miracle," (Barlow/Weir) recorded by The Grateful Dead
Recently, I had yet another ardent discussion with my brother the Southern Baptist. Sadly, it is the only sort of discussion of which I seem capable, as I don't do small talk very well. In support of Bush's incursion into Iraq, he stated that all Arabs are terrorists - that it's a cultural thing - and the solution is to "get rid of them all."
"Genocide, you mean?" I asked.
"If that's what it takes."
"That isn't going to happen, you know. That simply isn't the way our race does things any more, not since we all but eradicated the American Indians."
"Yes," he answered, "you're probably right about that."
"Imagine America invaded and your children shot before your eyes, your wife lying in your arms with her life draining from her due to bullet wounds, then tell me you wouldn't pledge your life to killing the invaders in any way possible," I continued.
"I can't," he admitted.
"So, if the objective is to stop terrorism, we are doing precisely the wrong thing, aren't we? For every Arab we kill, several others take their place. And their hatred of America proper, not just as Israel's surrogate, becomes ever more firmly entrenched."
"Yes, I suppose so."
"So we should be looking at why we are prompting this response and thereby strive to eliminate their desire to terrorize us, shouldn't we? If you want to be loved more, be more lovable, and all that?"
We do this periodically. He really is a decent sort. Thoughtful, rational, a good family man and a solid Christian. He is sort of a barometer of Middle America for me. But it seems like I've got to retrain him every time I see him. We're all kind of like that, I suppose. It points up for me the seeming hopelessness of bringing a critical mass of American thinking around to our way of looking at things. Even when I convert them, I've gotta keep converting them.
I'm not sure who first said, "The people are indoctrinated en masse, but enlightened only one at a time." TV converts our children and our countrymen en masse and keeps them that way with daily reinforcement. And it does so much more efficiently, using emotion and outright lies. I'm restricted to truth and logic. Furthermore, my reach is severely restricted by those in control.
Sometimes I feel kind of like the Black Knight from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," fighting with no arms and no legs. I'd be doomed, even in a fair fight. Sigh. But we gotta try. As Edward Everett Hale said, "I cannot do everything, but still I can do something and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."
Or Yogi Berra: "Half this game is ninety percent mental." Ok, that doesn't really fit, but I've been dying to use that quote and will forget it if I don't finally just put it in something. Or, maybe it does fit. Yogi was so...Zen.
My brother continued: "And I'm hampered by not wanting to believe my government is evil. I'm afraid that if I finally admit that, then I might feel that I have to do something about it."
Now we're cooking, I thought.
"Besides, I'm too old and too tired," he sighed.
I sighed, too. I handed him a pre-publication review copy of "Defensive Racism" and encouraged him to read it.
Sound familiar? I'm betting there isn't a single person reading this who cannot relate directly to this conversation. In fact, I'll bet that most reading this had something quite like this conversation with at least one other person during the past month.
So, other than commiserating, what's my point? Just this. We're all doomed. America is over. The cities have become jungles. The dollar teeters on the edge of oblivion. There is no fixing things. You know it's true. Nobody gets out alive, so to speak.
Maybe we're being counterproductive. Since the trestle is out up ahead and the brakes are shot, maybe we should simply speed up the train so we can get on with the cleanup all the sooner. Dragging our feet in the gravel alongside seems just to chew up our legs and not slow us down at all.
Vote for Bush, for example. Or Kerry, for another example. Demand that America invade Iran. Go on welfare. Go to the Emergency Room with our next cold, though we know we can't pay the bill. Refinance the house and buy a new car...a foreign car. Hire illegals to cut the grass. Move the plant to Honduras. Fire somebody. Stop working and get a government job. Support the immigration of Bantus. In short, just do what everybody else is doing. Eat, drink and be merry. Too much of everything might actually be just enough in this case.
I see an alternative future for America that makes my blood run cold, one involving massive concentration camps and deprogramming centers. A boot smashing a face forever, as George Orwell put it. Even worse, American totalitarianism on a worldwide scale. How many generations before freedom might again erupt, do you suppose, if there were not even one country in which it grew unimpeded?
Voting for Perot is what got Clinton elected (not that Bush I would have been any better). Nader gave us Bush II. You have to admit that Bush II's entourage has been far more effective at erecting a police state than even Hillary could have imagined. Maybe we're slowing things down just enough to allow the forces of real evil to consolidate their grip on an unsuspecting world.
I can't do it, though. I believe that we must heed our moral compass and follow its lead, wherever it might point. To do otherwise is to become that which we oppose. Edward Everett Hale was right on the money. And Yogi, too. We surely won't get anything we don't ask for. We may not succeed, but we can deserve to succeed, and that makes all the difference in the world.
Reach for the sky? No - reach for the stars. Miracles don't just happen, you know. Even the Grateful Dead didn't think so:
"Too much of everything is just enough
One more thing that I gotta say
I need a miracle every day."
--- Final Verse, "I Need a Miracle"
New America. A miracle whose time
Copyright ©2004, Edgar J. Steele
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