Friday, November 11, 2016

Armistice Day

Someone once asked me to describe my favorite part about the Fourth of July.

My answer:  It is the one day of the year when there is a peaceful use for gunpowder.

I am an historian.  I know and appreciate the fact that gunpowder has been used to defend many of the rights and privileges  that I have been blessed with.  I watch the battle reenactments where the participants use a small fraction of the gunpowder and ammunition used in the actual event. 

And I cringe at the smoke, and the noise, and the chaos and the destruction.

And can't begin to imagine the real event.   
And because of the time and place in which I live, I do not have to.   But others must.

Here in the United States we are celebrating Veterans' Day.  We thank our current and former military members for their service and sacrifice.  Please don't confuse this with Memorial Day

In Europe they are marking the 98th anniversary of the Armistice of WWI.  Please don't confuse this with a Peace Treaty.

100 years ago this week, we were re-electing Woodrow Wilson because he "kept us out of the war".
April 2, 1917 that same President goes to Congress to ask for a Declaration of War. 
 For a comprehensive timeline of events in WWI please see this link:
You'll notice quite a few places that are still in our news feeds today.

Armistice Day was when the troops stopped shooting each other, but not when the war was over.
Political Peace would take much longer.  Some would argue (myself included) that it never really came.  

And here we are.  November 11, 2016. 

Can we call an Armistice?
It is not a surrender, but a cessation of hostilities.   So that talking can get more results than shooting (our guns or our mouths).
But this time let's do it better than 100 years ago.   Let's not just talk, but listen.
Let's not send us straight into a political WWII.

I can think of no better way to honor our military veterans, than to be a part of the peacemakers who also help protect the country they defended.

Because political warfare can cause just as much smoke and noise and chaos and destruction as military warfare and is just as hard to heal from.
I have 100 years of history to learn from and I didn't miss the class on that.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Election Day

The end of 3 years, 11 months and 27 days of campaigning.

Hey....I live in is ALWAYS campaign season.  (we take a few days off to watch some college football lol)

I know we all think this one has been a particularly brutal campaign.  Tweets, wikileaks, FBI investigations, SNL skits (ok...those were sadly funny) and all the blocking and unfriending on FB could make a person wonder why we pay attention anymore.

We all have it......the undeniable phenomenon known as Election Syndrome.

Unfortunately we are not done with it.   We have to survive today, with it's wall-to-wall media coverage and post game analysis.  The potential lawsuits and result challenges hover like a grey specter over our beautiful fall day.  It feels like we are hanging on by one collective polyester-singly-ply thread of sanity.  If we hear one more rumor of an FBI investigation or rigged election we will snap.

Except we won't.

Because we are better than that.

Six days ago I woke up to a 6 a.m. national news report focused on my usually quiet and sane part of the country.
Just so you know.....hearing the names of cities near you, on a national news outlet, at that time of the day is never a good thing.

Overnight, we had lost two officers in an unspeakable act of violence.

But we had not lost our human decency.  In the hours and days that followed, the communities of Urbandale and Des Moines and neighboring towns came together to show support for the families of the officers. Flowers, cards, prayers, and financial donations from private individuals and local corporations came pouring in. 
And by the very Police Departments that were impacted, a request for privacy and safety for the family of the suspect.
Simple human kindness.  Because we will not stoop to the lowest common denominator.

We expect it from our political candidates, and yet we don't always expect it from ourselves.  Mostly preaching to myself here....but sometimes we gossip.  Sometimes we cut someone off in traffic.  Sometimes we yell at our kids, or our  spouse, or our dog.  Sometimes we lie, or cheat or steal.
Why are we surprised when our politicians do the same?
If we are not willing to hold ourselves to a higher standard, why are we surprised when our national elections turn into the political equivalent of Middle School Student Council elections?
 Wait.....that's insulting to the Middle Schoolers.  They behave better.

So today....if only for one day.... and if "only" out of respect for those officers being buried this week and the departments and communities they represent, choose kindness.

Because kindness IS a choice.  On a day when we have some important choices to make, start with the most important personal one.

And because it's Iowa....these are posted within 100 yards of my polling place.....
'Cause WE didn't miss the class on that...