Today is Memorial Day (30 May, ALWAYS 30 May, even if Congress decided to change it in 1968 to give jerks a three day weekend), originally known as Decoration Day. It was originally a day to remember those who had died in the Civil War. Now it seems to exist merely as an excuse for jerks to throw three day parties in which they consume vast quantities of alcohol and listen to loud music. I have nothing against alcohol or music, but ask yourselves, "why can I drink and party? Why am I free to do jackass things on this day off from work?"
My valued couple of readers (The Urban Mystic actually gets about 60 readers a day, 40 of whom come for the ponies), if you have spent any time at all here you know my fascination with the history of warfare and the military. I study war not because I love it, for only a madman could love war, but because it is my firm belief that if we all study war we can better be prepared for when war does come, and be better able to avoid war in the first palce. A sailor practies swimming not because he looks forward to his ship sinking but because he wants to be prepared should the terrible ordeal ever arise. I am the same.
Today I cannot say I spent much time reflecting on the sacrifices of those fellow Americans who gave the last full measure of freedom to secure my own, amidst all the inevitable distractions of moden life, but reflect I have. Our rights and our freedoms are given to us by God, and it is the patriots who take a stand to defend them. Men seek always to take that freedom from us. They always have, throughout all of time and space. Nothing will change that, not for a long time, if ever.
From an Integral perspective we can see why: everyone starts at ground zero. Everyone is born with basic survival instincts and must grow through the stages, magic, mythic, rational, pluralistic, etc. Growth usually stops at the society's center of gravity. A band of Bushmen may be at stage two, a street gang at stage three, a modern western nation like Australia at stage five, and a European socialist nation like Sweden at stage six. Groups like al-Qaeda or the Nazis are at stage three. While there are people at these different stages there will be conflicts between competing world views. Red always seeks to dominate, amber (blue) always seeks to stop red, and orange always seeks to use blue to stop red for its own benefit. This is just how things are.
Another possible interpretation, from the transpersonalists like Stan Groff, is to point to the personality of the trickster. The trickster aspect of reality is that which creates conflict in the world. The trickster creates novelty in Spirit, and novelty is percieved as conflict, even though in ultimate reality it is really done as an act of love. Conflict brings us a reason to be compassionate at times and in ways that we normally would not.
Those who took up arms and made sacrifices are the reason I can sit here and write about ponies and transpersonal psychology. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Freedom is bought and paid for in blood. Nothing I can do can ever repay those who made that sacrifice, but because of their kindness and generosity I never will have to, for their sacrifice is an act of compassion, given free of charge. Sometimes amber simply must confront red, even if the results are never pretty.
I don't think it is a mistake that the only people who recieved a grave memorial in Sparta were men who died in combat and women who died in childbirth, as they are the only among us who have made the ultimate sacrifice. For as many negative aspects of Spartan society may have existed, this aspect of memorialising fallen heroes deserves to be emulated and preserved. Let us never forget the sacrifice of patriots.
While you and I sit at home, isolated from the world outside, and while you celebrate with cocktails and La Cucaracha, take at least a moment to reflect on why you are free to act like a jackass. It is because someone picked up arms and went to fight evil that you are free to act as you do. Patriots are our treasure, treat them as such. Remember them even if it is for one minute, on this one day, once a year. Heroes are a thankless bunch. Take time to appreciate them, if only to the minimum degree.
From the bottom of my heart, to all those who serve, I extend my utmost thanks. My thanks is not much, but it is all I have to give, and I give it in vast quantities. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.
Writing for The Urban Mystic
30 May 2011