Monday, May 28, 2012
I walked out this AM with a usual list of 1st World problems: last night's storm has covered everything with Spanish Moss, my newspaper is wet, and none of the kids did the dishes as I asked them to.
I had the pleasure to spend some of this weekend with family and friends. A friend's wife is German. Just a great woman who I always enjoy the pleasure of her company as we get to talk about the joys of dark dark, bitter chocolate, the beauty of the Rhine valley, quality beer, and the inherent sturdiness of German automobiles.
She has almost perfect children who are always a hoot as they wander around speaking Germlish - once sentence in German, the other in English without an accent in either.
As our conversation went to food, we talked about the sweet corn in the low-country boil, and she mentioned off-hand that she never ate corn growing up. When her father was "with" the Russians after "the war", that is all they fed him, and as a result her father wouldn't allow corn at the table.
There you go.
I forget - we come from very different backgrounds. The greatest hardship my mother had in WWII was that her dresses were made from the sacks they bought corn meal in (not that bad really - they were made to be used like that).
Sure, our family had known devastation when the Union forces 80 years earlier burned and looted their way through the county, but that was mild by the standard of that day, as it was done in a relatively civilized manner; "Ma'am, you and the children need to get what you need and leave. I have orders to burn the barn and out buildings ... " - instant poverty, but at least you were alive. After the war, those men who survived went home relatively unmolested, and started a century long project of rebuilding and modernization.
My German friend's parents did not have that. Their cities were leveled, their own government started a war that put their men through a senseless meat grinder, and then defeated - many of the men who survived were used as slaves in a Communist death machine for years before the few survivors were sent home.
We are a blessed nation - and a large part of that blessing has to do with geography I will grant you, but we have that geographical blessing for a reason.
After two wars and many treaties - we agreed to a logical, defensible, and peaceful border with the British Empire to the north. Though we could have taken more if we wanted, our predecessors worked out a reasonable border with Mexico to the south (thought I really wish we had not failed to keep Baja California as planned).
In the context of their time, we gained by relatively civilized means, a properly shaped and ordered geography minimizing potential enemies to our borders and providing strategic depth only Russia and China have.
The reason was that those who came before sacrificed for their nation's security and future stability. We all owe them thanks and gratitude that we have such simple problems now. Our greatest threat is totally in our control - the fact we spend too much. The greatest epidemic in our nation is that our poor are so fat their bodies cannot process all the food they take in. We and our friendly neighbors have so much oil, we have to find places to build more pipelines to handle it. We call ourselves in a "war" where a decade's worth of casualties in a nation of 313 million is roughly the same in real numbers as a couple of days in the American Civil War when the nation was of only ~30 million.
1st Word problems thanks to 1st Class ancestors.
We are blessed - all we have to do is earn it today.