I’ll be 60 years old in a few months, an age that as I write this, seems a bit shocking. When people reach the cusp of senior citizenry they naturally begin seeing an up-tick in the number of familiar obituaries or notes from far-flung places that so and so has died. Sometimes unexpectedly, like a friend I lost today, or sometimes after some ghastly illness that makes me want to go ballistic at the ne’er die with dignity crowd — unable to let someone die in peace without taking one last stab at how they should run their life.
I am a veteran. I am also an atheist. I had the honor to serve with both, along with those who believe in Gods, gays who weren’t asked and didn’t tell, women, minorities, the handicapped, even citizens of other countries who served on behalf of their adopted home. Most of them served with distinction and some of them made the ultimate sacrifice. These days, they all volunteer. The military, like the civilian world, is everyone.
American divisiveness is a special breed of cat. American-style democracy is an anomaly in the world and so is the American way of trying to bridge divisions to balance the needs of the many and the few.
Sometimes this is a knee-jerk, willful, or greatly misguided bunk — as in former House Speaker Tom DeLay’s contention that, “We stopped realizing that God created this nation, that he wrote the Constitution, that it’s based on biblical principles.” Sometimes it is a matter of forcing opinions on your opposition — like Richard Dawkins’ claim that, “What a child should never be taught is that you are a Catholic or Muslim child, therefore that is what you believe. That’s child abuse.”