Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Remembrance of Things Past

Ah, those were the good old days.
You know, when things were as they were supposed to be.
  • Before global warming.
  • Before scope 'n' grope.
  • Before 9/11 changed everything.
  • Before Bush's tax cuts.
  • Before the Democrats borked Bork.
  • Before Reagan fired the air traffic controllers.
  • Before the designated hitter.
  • Before the beatnicks and the hippies and civil rights and Vietnam.
  • Before the Wars.
  • Before the Industrial Revolution.
  • Before the Reformation.
  • Before the crucifixion.
  • Before Cain killed Abel.
  • Before the fucking serpent.
Once there was a Golden Age. When the lion would lie down with the lamb. When neighbor helped neighbor. When there was no crime. When there was no government because why bother. When all were happy and healthy.
  • And naked.
  • And lived in trees because it was too damned dangerous on the ground.
  • And foraged for food and in good times actually found some.
  • And it was bitter cold and blazing hot.
  • And the volcanoes.  Don't talk to me about the volcanoes.
  • And life was, as Hobbes pointed out,
    solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
There's nothing, absolutely nothing new in any of this.  The yearning for better days that never were, for a perfection that we never knew, for the pre-lapsarian world.  For Eden.
The oldest of civilizations pined for those days.
Nostalgia is ever with us and always has been. (Ed Asner, as Lou Grant on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, once grumbled of nostalgia "hated it then, hate it now.")
John Kennedy was murdered 48 years ago today.  By Lee Harvey Oswald or some other person. Acting alone or as part of a conspiracy. And we lost our innocence.
Which we'd never had.
I was talking with someone the other day who said that the killing of four wholesome white student protesters at Kent State University by members of the National Guard was the seminal event of his life.  He dreams of a pilgrimage there some day (though he said, Jews don't do pilgrimages).  That day, May 4, 1970 (another day we lost our innocence), is widely remembered.  Perhaps you know where you were when you first heard.  Of course you know the picture.
But do you know what happened ten days later, on May 14? Do you know about Jackson State University?  Where the cops killed two student protesters?  Fair chance you didn't.  Those kids were black at an black college in Mississippi.  Killing them? Business as usual.
Which brings us back to Lieutenant Pike. Like Chief Judge Williams, he's just another example.  And what happened at Davis isn't any worse than some of what's happened to other occupiers at other occupations.  And to other protesters and rabble rousers from sea to shining sea.  And overseas.  (Just ask the Syrians.)  But there was that great photo. And the videos.
And so we lost our innocence.
Really, it gets harder and harder to find.

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