Average Jane

Passion Revisited

This is a post that I wrote some time ago… Back in July, I guess.

It dawned on me yesterday (again) that the news is white noise to me. I stopped listening. I stopped talking about current events. I stopped thinking about foreign policy. I did not, however, stop caring.

Rather, I am exhausted. Mentally and emotionally. To remind myself how passionate I once was, I submit to you, my new readers, the following.

An average essay, an average opinion, by me, average jane.

The American Sacrifice?

“In those days, everyone made contributions for the war, and the wealthy made the biggest ones. Labor journalist Sam Pizzigati argues that this shared sacrifice from the top down helped define the ‘Greatest Generation’ and pulled the country, including the elites, together in wartime.” –TomPaine.com

With the idea of World War III being thrown around by pundits in the media, it makes me think a lot about the other World Wars and what it meant for society at the time. One of the biggest ideas that comes to mind is that of “sacrifice”. Sam Pizzigati was referencing a 94% income tax imposed during WWII, a compromise from the 100% income tax proposed by FDR. There were other sacrifices as well. Women could not purchase stockings as the nylon was being used to make parachutes. Food was rationed, gasoline was conserved, every bit of scrap metal was collected, rubber and cloth were not readily available, books were printed with smaller letters and thinner margins to save paper… These were times of war, and every single person was affected.

Life went on, though, for Americans. If they weren’t fighting, they were helping the war effort here at home. My question is as follows: Are Americans today prepared for this ne’er mentioned byproduct of war? The current war has had implications, namely the high cost of gasoline, but are people driving less? And if they are, is it to conserve gas, or are they driving less because they can’t afford to support their driving habits? Sacrifice is not something you do when it is convenient to your life.

Americans today live in a time of veritable prosperity. Our nation is in debt, but individuals thrive. We all spend our days on personal computers, we drive around in our oversized cars, we go home and eat a glutton’s ration of food. We do not need. We look at people without and pity them because they do not know what it is like to have everything and need nothing. We do not give to them, however, because that would take from what we have, and what we have is paramount. So what happens when it’s our turn to sacrifice? Where will we start? Will the children give up their PS2’s? Will Hummer owners have to lend their vehicles to the military? Will portion sizes have to go down so that food will stretch further?

After the United States was attacked, Americans did sacrifice: they gave up their civil liberties, for one. They said “I have no problem waiting hours in line at the airport to be patted down, especially if it means I’ll be safe from terrorism!” So we did. We waited. And everyone was fine, until it was *their* turn to get patted down. “Why do you need to pat me down? Do I look like a terrorist to you?”

Speaking of, there is another cost of war that is still rampant in our country after the first attacks 5 years agosuspicionon of our neighbors. By “neighbor” I do not mean Billy down the block. When I go to an airport and see a Middle Eastern man, I feel bad. Why? Because I hear the whispers that he does not. I hear the sound of distrust, I feel the air fill with fear. Unnecessary fear brought about because Americans cannot think of a constructive way to deal with something they cannot control. I take this time to remind everyone of those people of the thousands of Japanese put into concentration camps (note: I prefer not using the term of the time “internment camp,” as candy coating what we did to those individuals is reprehensible). We must resist the temptation to submit to our fears.

America is fed up with war. Most of the American flags have been taken down from houses and car windows. Most people have stopped caring. We are in a state of mental exhaustion from dealing with all of the inexplicably disastrous things that have happened in and to the world in the past few years. What will happen when this President, or the President that comes after, asks our nation to sacrifice for a war they don’t even believe in?

You tell me.

Comments? Questions?


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  1. * Laundro says:

    I’ve gotta say, one of the best aspects of moving out of DC was that I watch the news and follow politics significantly less. I think this leads to a much healthier and productive life.

    Speaking of the flags people have taken down. What’s really sad or depressing are the people that put them up post 9/11 who haven’t taken them down nor replaced them and they are just a few strands of cloth or plastic blowing in the wind.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 2 months ago
  2. * Jo says:

    I think about it every day. I watch the news, I get angry, but yet, like most Americans I do nothing about it. Difference is that I’m not a citizen, I can’t vote so there is literally nothing I can do about it.

    I grew up in a country where the inflation rate was 400%. The $2 you spent on milk at the beginning of the month would be worthless by the end of the month. People don’t understand anymore what it’s like to -not- have, myself included. And the sad thing is that after 9/11 this country was more united than I’ve ever seen it, and because of one stupid, needles, war, it’s now more divided that ever.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 2 months ago
  3. * Mandy says:

    Such questions. Such difficulty in solving them.

    I don’t think that avoidance of the media is the correct response. Instead of being angry over it, be objective. Be informed. Make your own judgement and be knowledgable enough to support your opinions (which I know you are Jane). Channel negative energy into creating positive change.

    Spend less than you make.

    Unfortunately, most Americans have a “not in my backyard” mentality. If it’s not happening or affecting their personal bubble – it’s out of sight and out of mind.

    But I refuse to think that people have stopped caring. They haven’t. They’re just quiet – and so many changes are happening at a grassroots level and the media is so focused on Anna Nicole Smith – that we just, unfortunately, don’t hear about it.

    Do something you believe in – find the “passion.” I work in the arts because I truly believe that they can be a vehicle to effect change. To cause people to think and bear witness to something outside of themselves. They can unify and create discussions amongst “normal” citizens they may not have had otherwise.

    Sure I’m an idealist. The worst kind in fact. I should “shrink” my footprint. And I should stop wasting… time, food, energy. I don’t understand why people should die in order to create peace, or why someone would choose NOT to vote, or why that guy at Vtech was even sold a gun.

    But I can focus on the little things, the things that I’m responsible for… and that list is miles long.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 2 months ago
  4. * Socratease says:

    Dear AJ,
    Don’t be discouraged. There are few problems that won’t seem less important when viewed back through the lens of time. I appreciate that you have given a good deal of thought to this and many subjects.
    I’m curious whether you think it is just this war that Americans are fed up with or whether, in general, Americans have lost the ability to sacrifice. I’m sure you’d agree that given a “real” war we’d buckle down as a country and do what is necessary. If somebody bombed one of our cities, for instance, and we had a tangible enemy who was a daily threat to our existence, I think you’d find a united front across the nation of people who would pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to ensure America’s survival.
    But it takes a shock to get people moving. Reference the second law of social dynamics: A body of people at rest tends to stay at rest. A body of people in motion only stay in motion as long as they are continually provoked. They need a clear threat to their survival. A sense that they are part of something important.
    Maybe people realize that this war isn’t important enough to get stirred up over. We’re not fed up with the war. I think we’re bored.
    Is this war important? Is it a battle between ideologies as dissimilar as capitalism and communism in which only one paradigm can survive? I’m making too big a deal over it. It’s probably just Dubya’s war and means nothing.
    Thanks for your time. It is a pleasure to read your post. G’night.


    | Reply Posted 11 years, 2 months ago

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