THE 7th OF DECEMBER
by James Strauss
On December 7th of 1941 Pearl Harbor was bombed. America waited. And now again, America waits. It waits with breath held, taking in short gasps of air, while it looks around at itself, no longer concerned with much of what is going on in the Middle East or the rest of the world. After Pearl Harbor was bombed America turned outward, but this new turn on this December 7th, 75 years later, is inward and it came with the results of the presidential election.
Both sides, or all five or six or however many there really are, were and remain shocked. The galvanic electrical shock to the system is the same for everyone, although there exist so many different views about predicting the country’s new future. Now that it is pretty clear there is going to be quite a different future all citizens must get used to a new idea that has never found much traction among them. That new idea is change. America is country that was born in blood and fighting. The blood of early citizens, black protocitizen slaves and the blood of the British, French and even early Native Americans. Through the difficult and scary first years of America’s birth and right up through the civil war there was another war going on against violent change. Change brings fear as its constant companion. No matter what kind of change may be in the offing almost all humans are afraid of it. Constancy has been a human friend. When things don’t change at all or they change gradually, there is usually time to accommodate and shape those changes.
Family life survives best when there is almost no change to impact it. Tribal life survives best with benevolent unchanging leadership at the top and dutiful middle managers and tribal members going along below. Change is usually something resisted for comfortable survival reasons. Few argued in principal against the abolition of slavery, for example, except so many people who had invested in slaves as property. A slave back in the day was worth about what an automobile is worth today. A slave family worth about the same as a low cost homes. Imagine losing five or six automobiles and a home or two without compensation for your loss! Abolition had a very financial impact on many people owning slaves (about twenty percent of the citizen population at one time). The automobile came along and what a grand brilliant invention it was. The invention itself and the resulting rapid spread of auto production was bitterly opposed. As was the development of steam powered ships (took almost a hundred years for them to ‘win’ over sail power). As was the development of trains. Many many people did not want electric lights to replace poor performing gas-powered ones. Tesla, Westinghouse and Edison had to build and demonstrate working electric grids to convince critics and that took a lot of money and quite a long time.
The change so many people voted for in hope, first with Obama and now with Trump, is coming. The change could be as significant as any the culture has witnessed up to this point. WWII brought huge changes through the war process but even that huge change, vaulting the United States into eventual world domination, could pale into insignificance with this coming change.
It is impossible to accurately predict what the changes will be that will now no doubt effect every American and every human being on the planet that has any contact with America. But there are ominous signs of gateways opening up to opportunity that have so far laid dormant in the culture, although they’ve been there since that great war.
One is thermo-nuclear weapons. There were no thermo-nuclear weapons before 1952. The first test of a weapon named Mike was done that year. WWII saw only the use of much more limited and smaller atomic devices. From sometime since that test and a few decades later, when the real effects of the use of thermonuclear weapons could be studied (it would take a very few explosions to doom the entire planet!), the use of nuclear weapons has not been openly considered by American leadership. That has changed, if Donald Trump is to be believed in what he says at all. The second gateway that may open is the building and spread of small arms. Following WWII there were no more than a few hundred thousand small arms owned and used by Americans. The weapons are expensive and hunting as a form of feeding the family faded into near obscurity. That is not true anymore. Wikipedia reports that there are more than three hundred million small arms in the hands of Americans today.
The nation is split right down the middle and the split is over the coming changes, whether changes were wanted or not. They are coming. Donald Trump’s choices of men and women to lead his government with him are almost, to a man or woman, bellicose and warlike in nature. The bellicosity appears directed toward those outside of the U.S. (ISIS) and those inside the U.S. who may be here illegally (illegal immigrants). However, as the United States saw when the veteran’s of WWI marched on Washington after that war, that bellicosity can turn inward almost instantly. That march was put down immediately and violently by such notable men as McArthur and Patton, both men admired by President-elect Trump. And those were veteran’s who’d fought for the U.S. But those men also lacked real armament.
What changes are coming? That is the big question and the last election mass media reporting just about assured that nobody can turn on the television, read the papers or listen to radio and get anything but more gibberish when it comes to trying to figure the coming changes out. How do we respond to these changes? How do we hold families, friends, tribes, villages, towns and cities together when such violent hatred (yes, it is all of that right now) exists between followers of different mindsets that are so deadly opposed to one another?
Nuclear weapons are not going away and the potential use of them is being turned over to Donald Trump without supervision or anyone or anything being put in the way to stop him from using them. Small arms are not going to be controlled or withdrawn from their overwhelming possession by almost all of the citizenry. What’s going to happen with companies like Carrier or others sending jobs overseas; what’s going to happen to Obamacare; what’s going to happen to the economy in any way, these things appear right now to be chump change compared to what may likely happen on the field of combat. Because there is a now revealing change that so many Americans (by far the majority of aging white Americans) want. They want to go to war, physically and mentally, and it becomes more evident every day that they don’t really care who it is they go to war with. Whatever has happened with the mass media message, with political selection through gerrymandering and voter restrictions, and now with the election of someone who is so far out there that he defies any description, is now immaterial to a devastating fact.
Fear of everything, so driven down as part of the American fabric of technological advancement and social improvements, is back, and it’s spreading like the old black plague spread across Europe. 75 years ago the nation threw together. It was us against them. Today, as we look with trepidation about what the possibilities are about to open to become this war many envision will be us against us. Rational humans in leadership positions could stop this mad rush to empire-building minority supremacy. You, as a former voter and citizen, have decided the nature of rational decision-making you found to be necessary in the world you want to live in.
May you live in interesting times.