The More Things Change…

The urge to produce another passion filled post could not be found. The well of molten thoughts must have a blockage of some sort. The news, more and more, sounds or reads like a poorly produced parody, then as actual events.
I feel a rhythmic stabbing pain just behind my eyes……
“How many scotch soaked cubes do I have to keep tossing to get your attention boy??”
Dad was back in his chair, relaxed, cigar and tumbler of adult beverage at hand, another ice cube at the ready.
“Damn, you couldn’t do the stereotypical ghostly thing, and make haunting noises, or levitate something across the room?”, I replied while rubbing my temple.
“Well, I had a bet with your over worked and underpaid guardian angel.” Dad replied “I said I would get your attention by the fifth cube. He seemed to think it would take at least twenty, and thought he was being generous at that.”
“I lost.” he added, with a grumble and a toss of the cube in his hand.
The optical brain freeze lasted but a second, How does one “duck” metaphysical ice cubes?
Dad sighed, took a sip and a puff,
“You say the worlds getting crazier with each passing day? That the news seems to be something written by a group of over medicated gag writers? Are your urges to warn people things can’t continue on the way they are, being countered by feelings that you’re crying out in the wilderness? Is that what’s got you down bunky??”
*Sounds of the Washington Post March start trumpeting directly behind dad* I begin to think the ice cubes were not so bad after all…
“WELL Cheer up!” In the space of my first fifty years on this planet, we had everything from soup kitchens and unemployment lines, mustached dictators trying to take over the civilized world, Red scares, to the very real threat of nuclear inhalation. We saw your generation taking over the reins and wondered what in bloody blue blazes was going on. Would you continue with business as usual, or continue the trend we saw of hedonism, and trying to take the easy way out. Well, my generation got rid of the largest communist threat, took care of the original axis of evil, and placed a man on the moon. We gave you the strongest economy and best standard of living the world had ever seen, and along the way knocked out two of the most horrific medical concerns of our and past generations, polio and smallpox. But now you’re telling me, things are not so good, the world is going to hell in a hand basket, the government doesn’t really seem to be looking out for your or the countries best interests, and a new evil is spreading itself across the globe, while at the same time an old one seeks to take this country down? Is that what you’re telling me bun…”
“Stop the music! Enough already!!” I yelled, as I melted the cube in dad’s hand with an inwardly directed beam of heat from a close at hand capillary.
“I’m beginning to get your point, I think.” I gave him a smile, and tried to rephrase my thoughts. “You are saying, things seem dire in every generation, to some extent or another. And not trying to downplay what you and your generation had to go through, or what y’all did for us. But after hearing all the idiots out there who refuse to see what is really going on in the world these days, putting a spin on this or that point of view to make it more palatable to the public at large. Out and out lying either about what they did or didn’t do. Or taking actions which at least on the face of things would amount to nothing less then treason or sedition…”
Dad took another sip of his scotch, and held up his hand for silence. “Okay son, I’ll concede the point of my generations problems and challenges being any greater or lesser then what you are facing today. And I think I see a little clearer now what you are driving at. Hell, I’ll even get over the fact your hair has stayed much darker then mine was, when I was your age.” Dad chuckled as he said that. “Son, there have always been folks who turned a blind eye to what was going on in the world around them. Prior to our entry into WWII, there were still some pretty strong German groups, in America, who sympathized with the Nazis. And a large group of folks who thought none of it was any of our business. Probably some of the same ones who didn’t want us to get involved in the first war over there.”
“When the reds became a concern, there were small but vocal groups who thought old Uncle Joe Stalin was no concern either. Even after he was replaced by Kruchiev, they still thought we had no reason or right to impose our way of life on other peoples. Hell, both of us were around to see what happened when the media, certain folks in the government, and a bunch of misguided and misinformed folks helped to win the Vietnam conflict…for the other side.”
My specter father rummaged around for another cigar, and finding same, clipped the end and lit it up. He also took another sip of scotch. I was enjoying the conversation. I hadn’t remembered my father talking about the events of the day, with us, for any great length of time, while he was in a more corporal form. Then again, as is the case with most kids, perhaps I wasn’t listening.
“Look son”, Dad continued, “I’m not going to paint a pie in the sky picture for you here. Fact is, it is every bit as bad now as it was when we heard the news on the morning of December 7th of ’41. Yes, the battles for Afghanistan, and it appears, Iraq, are all but finished. But the evil behind them is still at large and unlike what we fought, tends to hide in the shadows waiting for the right time and place to strike. Looking back, maybe if things had been a little harder for your generation, well, perhaps some of the old values, customs, and manners would still be stronger then they are now.”
“But you can’t let the bastards grind you down. If nothing else, you still have the ballot box to bring about change. The gasbags in DC still understand who it is that allows them to stay where they are. And if enough folks get behind someone who is closer to their line of thinking, why it can still be a case of out with the old and in with the new. I see how things are going, down your way. We have access to all the media up where I am. And we have a good chunk of the founding fathers up here too. Why I saw Sam Adams speak just the other day. He is not a happy camper let me tell you! Sam said something about all the work they did to give America something special. A framework, that given enough time, could allow men the opportunity to reach for, and perhaps, achieve the fullness of human potential. But when they got to the point in time where America should have really shined, leading the world to realizing any and all dreams, limited only by mankind’s technical ability to reach them, you had folks in congress, the senate, and the oval office, who were more interested in promoting their own agendas and trying to define what *is* is.”
Dad took a break and seemed to be looking for something. “Son, where can a spook rustle up something to munch on?”
Ice cube attack or not, I couldn’t resist….”Dad, are you looking for food (of) forethought?” This caused my father phantom to cough and sputter, spraying his scotch, then looking for a hanky. My guardian angel appeared, handed dad a hanky, and gave me a look which immediately brought to mind the commandment about honoring ones father and mother, and how I was in grave danger of having just violated same. In self defense I mumbled something about paybacks for ice cubes and bets. This in turn, well, up till, now I didn’t know angels could blush. Being this was close enough to a day dream, I produced a plate with a couple of pieces of pineapple upside down cake on it, for Dad (his favorite), as a peace offering. He was now back in his chair, taking note of the cake, shook his head with a hint of a smile, and commenced to taking a bite of same.
“No, Dad” I said, “I won’t give up the fight. It just concerns me more and more with each passing day, we are going to end up fighting a two front war. One here, at home, against all who would seek to stomp on the constitution to meet their own agendas. And with any number of enemies and agents across both seas, who would seek to see not only this country, but Western civilization as well, become a swiftly fading memory. I wonder about our elected officials, and I am talking about the ones who are supposed to be on *our side*, and what appears to be their almost complete lack of cajones. I wonder about a President, who seems, most of the time, to have such a clear vision about how to deal with the foreign threats, but at the same time appears to be really out of touch with the majority of the electorate regarding domestic issues.”
Dad finished the cake, and took a swig of the scotch. “Hey, these two kinda go good together!” It was my turn to grimace, which brought a chuckle from the reclining ectoplasm. “Look, he said, “there is still time, and hope. If enough people of like minds are able to work together and make their feelings known, and voices heard….look what a group of just over 250 fella’s did in the months up to your last national elections. They were probably one of the single greatest forces in causing him to lose his bid for the white house. And that was only 250 or so voices. Imagine what could be done with 500…5000…10,000…or more!”
“What was that line….oh yes, in fact Adams used it when he was pontificating yesterday, by Burke as I recall….”The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” It appears too many good men are doing exactly that. But keep up your writing, and stir up that pot!”
The ghost with a twinkle in his eye, placed the plate to the side of the chair, lit his cigar, and continued. “Maybe this will help a bit too. You remember when you first went into the Navy?”
“Yes, yes I do.”
“And over the course of that first year or two”, Dad continued, ” you remember what you found out about your old high school classmates?”
I thought about it for a moment, and smiled. “That a number of them both remembered me, and thought better of me then I would have guessed?”
Dad smiled too “That’s part of it, but there where two things I remember, two people who you had some effect on.”
“You mean, Bill and Mike?”, I asked.
“Bingo!” he replied.
I remembered shortly after I had come back from, either my avionics training, or after my first tour of duty, a mutual friend of my best friend Jim, and I had gone in to the Navy via OCS. His name was Bill. While on leave, we had all met up at one of the local pizza joints. Now, when the three of us had been together in the past, Jim and Bill seemed to focus on events and items of interest, at the exclusion of other parties present. This time ’round Bill and I a bond which hadn’t been there before. Bill, mentioned at one point that evening, his respect for me had gone up a notch or two after he experienced what Navy life was all about. It seems I had, unknown to me, influenced his choice of service to some extent.
Mike, was another classmate, in fact our lockers were fairly close together. Though we were little more then acquaintances throughout high school, due to different social circles, and interests. We bumped into each other while attending our respective advanced training schools while in Memphis TN. Turns out he had heard I went in the Navy, and had done the same not long after. We spent the following Memorial Day “three day weekend” bringing his car back down to Memphis.
There were others who thought I was an ok enough guy. But outside of my circle of friends I was unaware of them, more out of ignorance, then anything else. (Who after all, I had thought at the time, would really notice, much less care, about me.) Once again Dad was right. We often knowingly effect others, but more often then not there are many more, we are not aware of, who’s lives, to a lesser or greater extent, are influenced by what we think, do, or say.
And sometimes it takes a ghost, who cares, to bring a reminder of this.
“Thanks Dad, for both the perspective check and the reminder.”
“You are more then welcome son. Keep up the good fight. And now I must be off to see about settling up with a certain guardian angel. Take care of yourself, I’ll be back soon enough. I love you son.”
I inwardly chuckled, before returning to the here and now, giving him a final metaphysical hug, thought, “I love you too Dad.”
With that said, he smiled, drained the last of the scotch from his glass, stuck the cigar in the corner of his mouth, and faded out.


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