Counterculture

Counterculture: (n) the culture and lifestyle of those people who reject or oppose the dominant values and behavior of society.

Take any thirty years.

Yes—look back in your history book and isolate off a thirty year period and you will realize that every group of people who was deemed to be “counterculture” was ignored for ten years, rejected for the next ten, but by the third decade had gained position, if not predominance.

It also holds true for our common values. Case in point:

Divorce used to be never spoken of—ignored, if you will. Then for a while it was rejected as unacceptable. And now, it’s not only a part of our society, but it is generally assumed that any human being over the age of thirty-five has divorced at least once.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

An obvious example is the gay community, which was at first ignored, then heavily rejected, and now appears deeply rooted in the fabric of our culture.

Yet there are two outstanding exceptions to this theory—black people and women.

Our American citizens who happen to have black skin seem to have stalled somewhere between rejection and inclusion.

And women continue to be bandied about as sexual objects instead of living, breathing sisters in our fight for sanity.

’Tis perplexing. It certainly gives some food for thought.

For when I was a young man, the war in Vietnam was a symbol of courage and American will to fight communism. Enter the counterculture of anti-war. Now, the Indochina conflict is basically a very dark joke.

I, for one, am going to be very careful to reject to anything as counterculture—because even the faith I hold dear, which proudly meets in churches every Sunday, was once condemned to be a counterculture, secretly fellowshipping in the tombs.


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Commie

Commie:(n) a communist

Growing up, there were three great insults we used repeatedly to decimate the character of those around us, while greatly inflating our own sense of self-importance: retard, gay and Commie

Although they were often used interchangeably for all seasons and all reasons, there were specific times when “retard” was applied. Whenever anyone did anything that inconvenienced us he or she was a retard.

When anyone did anything the least bit unusual, and we were afraid they would ask us to do it, too, they were gay.

And when our parents told us that certain children had mothers and fathers who were questionable in their politics–well, those kids were Commies.

You could probably survive being a retard, as long as you didn’t get too upset.

You could flee from being gay.

But once you were identified as a Commie–an enemy of the state–a Ruskie–a member of the Soviet Union–a sympathizer with killers–well, it was just a little hard to shake that off.

I remember once when two friends and I refused to listen to a girl who came to school wearing jeans and a t-shirt (which was unheard of at the time) and spouted opinions on such things as ecology, civil rights, and even, God forbid, anti-war. She was especially upset with the war in Viet Nam.

In our freshman year, we had one view of this girl–but by the time we were seniors, the national opinion on civil rights had changed, ecology had been honored by the creation of Earth Day, and because of the Pentagon Papers, the Viet Nam War had been exposed as an unnecessary exercise in futility.

We were uncomfortable about it. The Commie had been proven correct.

So to compensate, we just started calling her gay.

 

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Bazooka

Bazooka: (n) a short-range tubular rocket launcher used against tanks.Dictionary B

I wrote a contemplative movie entitled “The Drive.”

Some people would consider it anti-war but since I don’t really think there are “pro-war” options, let’s leave it with my original representation.

I will not get into the total storyline except to tell you there is an anguished father who decides to wreak revenge on the U.S. Government by trying to assassinate the President of the United States in St. Louis.

He chooses a bazooka as his weapon.

I would assume this is because he knows he’s not a very good shot and wanted a twelve-foot margin of error.

So when it came time to film the project, we were in the market to locate a bazooka. The first few people we asked thought we were referring to the comics from the 1960’s. Rather than contradict their perception, we just quietly hung up the phone.

We finally found a collector of WWII memorabilia who had a bazooka, even with its own case. Fortunately, he did not have the shells for it, so we had to figure out how to stuff firecrackers in the muzzle to make it appear that the long tube was threatening.

As I look back, I realize that finding a bazooka and simulating firing it in public was certainly a dispensation of the time. I can’t imagine how many government watch lists we would be placed on nowadays for even inquiring about such an object.

But we not only fired it, we had a street full of extras who ran away in horror and terror at the onslaught.

It was really quite pungent and effective for a low-budget film, but I must tell you–when the actor pulled that bazooka out of the case, which was in the trunk of his car, a chill went down my spine–one which is duplicated as I write this piece.

May we look forward to the day when “bazooka” will only be remembered as a wise-cracking bubblegum comic.

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Barrage

Barrage: (n) a concentrated artillery bombardment over a wide area.Dictionary B

I have lived long enough that the term “pacifist” has become a dirty word.

How amazing.

It used to be honorable. Even though we considered it to be optimistic, those who held that position were given the regard due them for selecting an anti-war profile.

I have two problems with war.

First of all, it kills people. I guess that’s pretty self-explanatory.

But the second thing I have against war is more hidden and deceptive. War creates destruction while seeming to be honorable.

To me, that is the description of the mission statement of hell.

We need to realize that when guns are fired, bullets are expelled and therefore, human beings are put in jeopardy. Is it possible for us to dislike other folks so much that we want to mutilate them, or at least place them in a barrage, with an ongoing state of terror?

I have never had a gun fired at me. But even having a gun fired near me can be a soul-rattling experience.

What is it like to hear airplanes overhead, fully aware that they are going to bomb you and that your selected place of hiding may very well be insufficient?

Is war necessary?

I really don’t think that’s the question. That’s like somebody explaining why they double-park. It makes complete sense to them in the moment, and the disregard they have for others is righteously overcome by their personal need.

War needs to be avoided–or at the very least, never rationalized.

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Armed Forces

dictionary with letter A

Armed forces: (n) a country’s military forces, especially its army, navy, and air force.

I came of age in a time when joining the armed forces produced the great possibility of returning home in a body bag.

It was not very appealing–especially since I was surrounded by friends and peers who abhorred a war where other friends and peers were going–and disappearing from memory like a puff of smoke.

So even though I am greatly appreciative of those who serve our country in the military and I understand the concept, I find it difficult to celebrate any evil, even if it’s a necessary one.

Killing people is deadly, whether it’s in defense of the innocent or to follow the maddening instructions of a crazed dictator.

I know that philosophically and spiritually, there is a distinction. But since I have been around human carnage in my lifetime and can still recall the smell of blood, my stomach becomes a little queasy when too many flags are waved and too many young men and women march off for a cause.

I look for that ground where I can stand, which permits me to support the troops without ever supporting the wars. Most people will not grant me such turf. No, I must applaud the death and destruction along with the dedication and determination.

It leaves me in a quandary.

When I was a young man I had a friend named Bob who, within a two-month period, received his draft notice, went through basic training and died in battle.

It shouldn’t be that easy to kill someone. It should take more than sixty days, don’t you think?

So chalk me up as one who is tearfully appreciative of the service of my fellow-Americans as they guard against tyranny–but also as one who will struggle against another war.

 

 

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