My parents came of age in WWII; I was 14 when my brother went to Vietnam. After 1980, most Americans didn’t personally experience the massive impact war has on a community. They didn’t hear their parents rant about blowing people off the face of the earth and then watch it on TV and then have their family members returned from war wounded, addicted, and traumatized. We write about the cost of war and no longer have a national draft that demands that teenagers exact control over life and death. Yes, it still happens but, not on the same scale. It’s a hierarchical experience in which your personal identity is a choice of ‘keep your head down’ or ‘support the leader.’
Americans own more guns than anyone on earth. America exports more guns to other countries and business is great! There are signs on the Mexican border pleading with Americans to stop the flow of guns. Some sheriffs and politicians encourage citizens to always carry a gun to prevent terrorism. It’s not a good time to be misunderstood.
My father told us we were the first generation in his lineage (since 1780), to grow to adulthood with a living father. I didn’t see him much. My mother’s family didn’t believe in war (maybe someone was making it up). I thought they were afraid to live on this planet and at least my father had a good reason.
How we participate in society may seem like a spiritual choice to enlist self-control or social control. Lurking behind the noise, and biological experiences of daily life, real things are happening. On a personal level, you can focus on being healthy and appreciating life, but some days you won’t feel like it. That’s how you find your compass. Pay attention.