I was in the Anchorage airport recently, after 40 days in western Alaska and the Bering Sea, when I heard something over the loudspeaker I'd almost forgotten about.
"The threat-level is 'orange,'" said a dispassionate feminine voice. For those of you without a color wheel, that's right between yellow and red. She went on to say that we should report any suspicious activity to the T.S.A.
I started to wonder what had happened in my almost six-week news black-out, before remembering this is how it is, and probably how it's always going to be: The threat level is always going to be "orange," and we're always going to be urged by some recording to be suspicious of each other.
We're a nation at war: A War on Terror, a war to protect our access to oil reserves in the Middle East, a war for revenge; and a war with each other over the meaning of these wars, what America stands for, and what it means to be an American. Our war effort consists of our young men and women fighting out of a tradition of honor and service; while we take our shoes off and submit to searches at airports, act suspicious of each other, and wonder what has become of our democracy and the Republic for which it stands.
Of course we also support a whole class of bumbling war profiteers with our tax dollars.
A few weeks ago I had an argument with a good friend, a Democrat, stemming from my saying I wasn't all that impressed with Obama; that his policy differences from the Bush Administration were minor. I was surprised to be met with a partisan rancor equal in every way to a Tea Partier at a Town Hall meeting. When the dust settled all I could think of to say was this:
"Do you want America to be a world-wide military empire?"
War has been the main foreign and domestic policy tool for Democrats and Republicans alike ever since World War II handed our politicians and captains of industry the world on a silver platter. It's weakened the international community, subverted our ideas of democracy, and is bound to destroy our Republic if we don't learn to work together to hold our government responsible for its actions.
Remember to vote.
And report any suspicious activity to the proper authorities.