Meditations on War

According to officials in the current US administration, the United States and China will fight a war within the next ten years over the Spratly islands, and “there’s no doubt about that.” The US will be in another “major” war in the Middle East, with Iran in all probability. Those are the predictions made nine months ago by of one of the most powerful men in Donald Trump’s administration, Steve Bannon, the former head of far-right news website Breitbart who is now chief strategist at the White House and the second highest ranking member of the NSC. Meanwhile, the not so erstwhile and painfully belligerent White House communications director, Sean Spicer, appeared to conflate Iran with Yemen's Houthi rebels, and confuse the United States and Saudi Arabia in what the press calls "muddled comments".

It is about seventeen degrees here in Vermont as I write this. A mug of hot coffee sits in my lap, a hand-rolled cigarette waits, one of the dogs is rustling around, snuffling up corn snow…it’s cold. 

I went to town to buy milk, and the guy behind the counter said to me without blinking an eye,

  -Funny thing having a political analyst around here. Is that what you do?

Word gets around small towns quicker than a bad email campaign.

He paused, took a sip of his coffee and asked, 

  -You think we oughta starting building bomb shelters again?

He didn't blink, and his eyes reddened. I notice a newspaper is tucked under the crossword puzzle book he seems to be working on endlessly. He kept his hand on it as if there was six gun under there.

  -That might not be a bad idea, but I do not honestly know. I certainly hope not.

I look at him for a long time, longer than he was comfortable with, longer than I intended, perhaps. 

07:00a, February 3, 2017. 


I left my book in the capable hands of my editor this week and breathed a sigh of relief. I've had enough of politics for now.

Three thousand two hundred people hit a link to my latest piece the day before last. These numbers are specious. A year ago my numbers were different when I wrote about "Why I applied to be an Astronaut". About 2/3 of the people that read my latest piece took in first five lines and branded me a “fascist propagandist.” 

I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say I laughed out loud, at first. 

"Avoid the news,” is the one sage piece of advice given to me by a Thai Buddhist monk some thirty years ago when I asked, “How do you live in this world?”

I was asking about how a monk lives, not how I should live. 

Doesn't matter. The same advice applies for both. 

Perpetual awe at the state of the world and men’s penchant for violence isn’t new. It’s old and ornery. Monks head for the hills, people get weird. Everyone feels something vague, something awful—out there

Out there is just a click away. I know where the house connects to the world. A couple of wires about a half mile up the road. 

I heard the story of an Estonian farmer who once harbored two wounded combatants in his house in the mountains, a Chechen, and a Georgian. 

He’d tease them, as they were young men and said, “Your mother is death,” only to be corrected by the Georgian who'd respond, “No old man, our Father is death.” 

Things are as they seem, in some awful downtrend pattern that most of us, (not me) find incomprehensible, which leads me to believe that folks need to remember that reason is not dead. I'm waiting for someone to ask simple questions.

  -Wait, must we do this? Isn’t there another direction we can go?” 

Onwards—towards reason, towards a winter sun, towards something else, towards the dog in the snow, the hand-rolled cigarette, the coffee cup, the wood shed. Some place reasonable

  -In Europe and America, there’s a growing feeling of hysteria… That is an eighties song ringing in my head as of late.

So while one side is smiling, smacking and whacking each other on the back, talking big--the protestors are worried about who gets in or out and heralding the coming of the great feminine. Maybe the Goddess will emerge from the mushroom cloud.

Anyways, neither side quite realizes that the bulk beans that they bought at Walmart might come to good use, and sooner than their expiration date. 

Bomb shelters—what a concept.