I have been down with an ear and sinus infection most of the week which has added to my insomnia and made me pretty useless. It is no fun to get up in the morning with vertigo. When this happens I wonder where Verti went. Over the past few days with the vertigo, occasional fever, sinus headaches and some coughing and sneezing I have officially welcomed in the 2011-2012 cold and flu season.
The past few days have given me time to do a lot of thinking, some praying and a bunch of writing. At least my PTSD-Mad Cow brain is functioning relatively well. But not getting out much and only going to work to go to the doctor is a bit of a downer. But it is now time to stop whining to you about this and simply be thankful for the blessings that I have.
I could have a job that had paid time off for sickness or that provided no medical coverage. I could be wondering where the next meal or paycheck was coming from or where I will sleep. One thing that I am thankful for is that we paid off a painful reminder of when where the next meal, tank of gas, medical care or pace to live was our reality. I left the active duty Army in September 1988 to attend seminary and that as about the time of the big Texas oil bust and real estate collapse. I was an Army Captain and couldn’t get a job because I was overqualified for most jobs or competing against people who could be paid less than me for others. It was brutal.
Judy was sick and could not work and eventually despite eventually getting a job with a social service agency, things fell apart. We lost our home and even our cars. It was the worst time of our lives. We never declared bankruptcy and paid off everything that we owed and this week I paid off the balance of the home that we lost in 1989 to the Veterans Administration. When the market crashed and the foreclosure came owed almost 40% of the selling price when the house sold at auction.
I am so grateful for what we have now and so being sick and laid up for a few days is really nothing to complain about. There are far too many people in our country that even a couple of years ago had what they thought were stable well paying jobs with benefits that don’t have them now. Many are veterans and their families. It is most likely that things will get worse before they get better for most people as the effects of the sovereign debt and banking crisis in Europe hits our banks.
For me what people are going through is not abstract because we have been there. I really wonder when I see people in political and economic power doing nothing with one Presidential candidate blaming the unemployed if they didn’t have a job and were not rich. I wonder what has happened to our country. I wonder why so many churches side with the rich and powerful and seem to despise the poor.
It seems heartless to say the things that this Presidential candidate said with unemployment remaining over 9% for over a year and companies deciding when they do have a job opening to give preference to those that currently have jobs. Even well qualified unemployed people are not even considered for job openings because they don’t have a job. And this is happening when the supposed “job creators” on Wall Street who the taxpayers bailed out in 2008 and 2009 are giving themselves bonuses. It just immoral and when I see many of my fellow Christians making the support of polices which are condemned by Jesus an article of faith in both theology and politics.
I have also had time to think about what is going on in the Middle East especially the Iraq withdraw and ongoing war in Afghanistan. I am really concerned with Afghanistan because of the veiled threats that Pakistan is making about cutting our supply lines. They have done this for short time periods before and there have been numerous attacks on supply convoys in that country by Pakistani Taliban. To make matters even more uncertain Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said that if there were a conflict between the United States and Pakistan that Afghanistan would help them.
Sometimes I hate being a military historian because I understand what happens to armies with tenuous supply lines that are under the control of unreliable allies. Stalingrad comes to mind. Likewise the lesser known but very significant The Second Jassy-Kishinev Offensive between August 20 and August 29 1944 in which the Romanian allies of the Germans switched sides during the battle. This allowed the Red Army to destroy the German 6th Army and maul the 8th Army. The offensive probably shortened the war by six months. At Stalingrad the Germans and their allies suffered 841,000 casualties and at Jassy-Kishinev they lost 100,000 killed and 115,000 captured. Currently there are about 90,000 American and another 40,000 NATO or coalition troops in Afghanistan deployed in penny packets throughout the country fighting an insurgency. They are very vulnerable to any supply disruption especially during the winter months and if there was a conflict that shut down the supply lines we would have to rely on the good graces of the Russians to resupply or withdraw our troops. When I think about this I think about my friends and comrades serving in Afghanistan and I pray to God that this does not happen.
When I think that the burden of these wars has fallen on under half a percent of the American population and that politicians and their allies in the business sector are looking at ways to make substantial cutbacks in medical care and other benefits to those that have been sacrificing in ways that no one else has been doing the past ten years. Talks of cutting VA care for veterans is obscene when because of their preexisting conditions they wouldn’t be able to afford medical insurance even if they could get it. And the word that these politicians and their allies use is that these are “entitlements.” That is a really nasty word and it is used pejoratively because everybody knows that “entitlement programs” are bad and those that receive “entitlements” haven’t earned them and are leaching off of society. In fact a letter from the “Super Committee” in charge of finding ways to slash the budget has proposed cuts to veterans benefits including pension, disability compensation and education payments.
This is why I would rather be at work, I think too much.
But I am still grateful for all that I have and honored to serve with the fine men and women of the US Military in this time of war. I do pray that things get better in our nation, which those suffering from the terrible economy will have their needs for employment and other physical needs met. I pray that somehow the deep division that has rent our people asunder will be healed and that our political and economic leaders will do what is right for the country and our people rather than the quarterly bottom line of select corporations. And I pray for the safety and success of my friends and comrades in both Iraq and Afghanistan and that our political and business leaders will not sacrifice us and then abandon us after beating us to dust the past 10 years.
But at least the World Series is on and nothing bad accrues from Baseball. For that I am very grateful as Sharon Olds said “Baseball is reassuring. It makes me feel as if the world is not going to blow up.”