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Shock and Awe Redux

We had just celebrated the birthday of the Christian Lamb of God—he of the lineage of Abraham—accepted as the Savior in the West, the Near East, and in various parts all over the world.
Not in tune with the Christmas season, we are about to go to war in the Near East where live two other members of the Abrahamic family with their own opinion of Christ. One member says, “Oh no. We don’t have the messiah yet.” The other says, “Actually we don’t need a savior. Our prophet has the last Word.” Apart from all this, are we having problems as a Nation of Sheep?
Starting from Philadelphia in late December, and then in several airport lounges during layovers, I and thousands of other airline travelers are stuck and not going anywhere as blizzard conditions sweep across the country. I am also captive of the marketplace swirl of holiday products and services—airline plastic, blue jeans, this year’s Christmas rage, banned Madonna music video stocking stuffers. Speaking of the Lamb of God, Madonna is no sheep. She is the pied piper shepherdess. She’s in charge again!
Why are we in this war anyway? Does Henry Ford have something to do with it? He did not design buses and bus routes. He tapped into our culture of individuality with its pride of self-reliance and ownership, hunger for privacy, private this and private that. We all get to have our own car and the incredible substructure of gasoline energy each car requires.
Back home in Santa Fe, there had been a “People for Peace” meeting, and a man had declared, “This is a war of evil against evil,” whatever that means. The marketplace swirl of newscasts in the airport waiting rooms intrudes again: Near East War Imperatives; bubble gum and sunscreen shipped to our boys. 
Headline: “Dan Quayle vacations in Vail, Colorado, then flies to California to play a round of golf at a private club.” (Private stuff again.) Jesse Jackson calls Quayle’s trip a moral outrage as Americans prepare their journey into the desert come March 2003—not to fast and pray as the hermits did in days gone by, but to “kick ass,” a phrase noised about for that war. Bob Hope was not on the scene. Probably better that way. How do you put on a show in the afterglow of Shock and Awe?
Overheard during what seems like endless hours in this or that airport bar: “I remember when that (someplace in Iowa) was all dirt roads…” But there will be dirt roads aplenty and anew where we are going. They will damage that brittle Near East desert ecology, as will countless other actions.
Some thoughts running through my stimulation-starved mind: If God had meant man to fly, She or He would have given him wings. Is it really important for all these people, me included, to get where we want to go?  Maybe we should have all just stayed put, just sat still like those hermits in the desert used to do. 

Airport terminals were certainly not meant to be lingered in, such that they become insane asylums with everyone feeling helpless and trapped, refusing to believe boarding their flight will ever happen. However, human nature cannot help but be fatigued and fed up having to wait seemingly endlessly in the vacuum of immobility, in the stuffy, uninviting and charmless airport terminals.
If the airplanes themselves were just one degree more uncomfortable or one degree smaller, people would refuse to board them. Is there something unpleasantly similar between being prepped for an operation and taking your seat in an airplane? But a call to board having finally been announced, I came to life and moved because it seemed that this ordeal of boredom and inconvenience was ending, and I would be home once again. It so happens that having boarded, mechanical difficulties delayed takeoff and the waiting, constricted in my seat, continued. My God Almighty.
Of course, all this is not the airlines’ fault. There are blizzard conditions all over the country. Nature can really upend technology. Speaking of “Shock and Awe,” I’ve had my own dose of it psychologically this trip.
On board, to break up the numbed state of my mind, I pose an inane question to my seating partner. (By now I am very mentally foggy and angry if not in a worse state of mind.) “Do you think they save the unused salt and jelly?” “The airlines are not in the business of resource reclamation,” he barks back at me without a moment’s hesitation. He is no doubt at his wit’s end as much as I. 
Soon, somewhere in the earth, there will be buried a plastic airline trash bag containing my unfinished salad, part of a buttered roll, a Styrofoam cup, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseam.
Albuquerque International Sunport is my destination, but I will then have to travel some 50 miles north and climb some 2000 feet to Santa Fe in a shuttle bus through a dark, icy night.
As we land, I study the lights of civilization—my civilization that is about to go to war against another civilization—a very old, old civilization.
Those lights of progress and technology, so many, so spread out. Would it not be wonderful, I mused, if we humans did not need lights in the dark and all the fuel it takes to energize them? How wonderful if we had evolved like so many creatures so that at twilight we would fall into an irresistible drowsiness and sleep that would immobilize us, imprison us until dawn. Good Night!



Originally published June 24, 2014 at:

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