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February 27, 2011

Morto per la libertà


Messina is closer to Tripoli than to Rome. We can almost hear the dying and crying. We can almost hear the yearning for a freer life.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And Gheddafi or Gadhafi or Qadhdhafi or Kadhafi was known as a stoned-out crazy man even back in the 70’s when I toured the region. Maybe his goal is to “live in infamy.” He’ll get that. Shooting on his own people praying at funerals, Good God! (i.e., Allah Akbar)

A recent piece by Italy’s funniest man, Roberto Benigni, about the origin of the national anthem (below), got me thinking about how people in the past fought for us and how we look back on them or don’t. We ignore their sacrifice at our own risk.

I mean, the Arab world seems to be experiencing their American Revolution, 235 years later. After their inevitable victory--despots fall by definition--how will the grandchildren of the current generation see their actions? And how do we consider our founding fathers (like my ancestor, John Strahl)? After all, they did put their lives at stake to make a better world for their descendants. Many died for us. 

War is often about money for the bigshots who decide to wage it, and the poor schmucks who volunteer to fight it, but it sometimes has other inspirations too. I recently re-watched Ken Burns series on the Civil War, our worst horror. A killing and dying butchery all for what? For what (right or wrong) the common soldiers believed in. For their families back home and those to come.

That’s us, folks. People have been sacrificing for centuries so that we can twitter and tofu and pilates and Oprah. They lived hard lives of work or died young so we could live this full, easy life and decide how to practice our freedom to make our own ideal world. Global warming, for instance, doesn’t come from outer space. Sex slavery wasn’t invented by Martians. If we live in a sickening, psychotic mess, it’s our decision. Our responsibility.

Would those boys (girls, men, women) whose dying thought was that they wanted us to have better lives than theirs be proud of how we turned out? Do we owe them something? Do we owe them for dying for us? How to repay … how?

Happy trials, Martin


Mutt: Howdy, Sir Jeff. Did you hear about the medical student who got in trouble for performing an operation? He removed the appendix from his medical textbook.
Jeff: How about Hans and Stein?, who were playing in their yard in Zurich when one of the boys accidentally swallowed a coin and started choking. Hans ran inside to get help, yelling "Mom! Dad! Come quick! There's a franc in Stein!"
Mutt: Quite amusing. Okay, two fish are in a tank. One says to the other, “Uhm … how do you drive this thing?”
Jeff: Good one. Two seagulls are sitting on a perch, one says to the other, “Something smells fishy.”
Mutt: Two guys were stranded on a desert island. The only way they could get food was to kill sea birds by throwing rocks at them. By the time they were rescued ... they had left no tern unstoned.
Jeff: Good grief.


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