Father thoughtsgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Daily Tales : One Thread
October 8, 2001
This is getting fun.
I'm rehearsing a new group tomorrow, and so I've got the rather brain-fuddling task of making the house presentable enough to rehearse in without creating too much extra work by altering the planned disarray of Cynthia in Moving Mode.
Dinner. That's on tonight's list. Turning off the smoke alarm is next.(I guess that was dinner).
I think I'm much less together than I appear on the surface. At least, I assume I must appear together, because my staff has some sort of running commentary of surprise whenever I make a mistake, or don't know something.
I'm much more of an absent-minded professor type than my Inner Critic allows. And sneaking around your Inner Critic is like trying to play chess with yourself. You can't really win unless you're intentionally looking the other way, and you know when you're doing it, and about the only way you can pull off a good coup against the IC is if it's totally unconscious, or if YOU were unconscious when you were getting away with whatever laziness you tried to sneak by it. And dang it, if you're not aware of the laziness when you're in the middle of it, and you can't savor it, then what good is it anyway?
Laziness is either fully enjoyed in the moment, or regretted later - either its consequences, or the fact that it wasn't fully enjoyed.
I can be a real lollygagger. People think I'm a workaholic, but it's just because there's this huge task in front of me, and it really does need to be done, and I'm the only one to do it. But that doesn't mean I'm not ready for it to be over.
I didn't plan it this way.
It started out with my ex-husband, Galen, and I coming to Eugene in 1989 with my mother, my disabled step-father, and my little brother. We'd been living in San Clemente for several years. Galen and I had been running a wood products wholesale business since 1986, when we were officially married, and my mother worked with us in the office.
It was good for us, because her husband had suffered a terrible stroke and was difficult to care for. He had been a quite stellar engineer with a flair for management and had been very successful in the aerospace world.
This is very unlike my father, who had been a quite stellar engineer with absolutely no flair for self-promotion in any way, shape or form, and merely created innovation after brilliant innovation for the war machine, pleased that whatever task he took on that had to do with making a thing go where you wanted it to go, really fast, all the time, and perhaps explode when it got there, he could do.
Once Dad was giving me a ride to work when I was about 19, and he and I had this brief talk. I was engaged with a group that was picketing Lockheed, where he worked, over the Trident Missile project. He told me that he'd been sitting in a business meeting and for the first time it had dawned upon him that the kill-ratio numbers they were discussing (one measure used to compare the relative worth of missile development projects, I'd assumed) were referring to *people*, and that the things they were talking about were intended to kill *people*. He said that he brought that up, and that he was met with complete silence. He never spoke of it with me again. I doubt he talked of it with his peers, either.
I think of the statement Rumsfield, or someone of his ilk, has recently made with regard to the development of chemical weapons by the bin Ladens and the Husseins (not us, of course), and the use of toxic biological agents, declaring any such actions as inherently terrorist precisely because there was no use to put those things to other than to kill human beings.
This is perhaps and finally a good thing. Of course, anyone can point to us and see that the kill ratios my father spoke of in the 70's referred specifically to people and were, therefore, deliberate acts with murderous intent. Our administration gets poor marks for history (ala Mr. Bush and his "Crusades" reference), so we'll see if they attempt to try such things in the World court under Nuremberg, forgetting that we did a lot of stuff that will also fall into that prosecutable camp.
But back when my Dad was working, they couldn't even speak of the reality of kill ratios in the rooms where the machinery was being designed - the trajectory and momentum of the war machine was so fervently ideological, and the mission so terribly inhumane, that to even begin to see the targets of missiles as human beings would have begun the unraveling and doomed the projects to incompletion.
That, too, I see as a hopeful thing, because it does suggest that we knew, somewhere deep inside , that if we dared talk about the truth out loud we would stop the terrible things we were planning to do. This means that our humanity is *not* soul-less, nor doomed, but somewhat gullible and willing to be misled in the name of societal security and other imperfect visions.
My father, on his own small scale, was in that camp of folk who agreed to remain silent and do the work. He told himself it was science. He believed it to the core. He believed that he wasn't responsible for the use to which something he'd created was put. I hold little judgement about this perspective any more - I do understand it.
He and I were doing our mutual parts in being the check-and-balance of our Democracy. We just happened to disagree on methodology, but I think that we shared this perspective, because I never felt he was angry with me - I think he always admired it when any of us actually had a thought-out opinion that was different from the mainstream, because it meant that we were thinking for ourselves.
He believed that someone had to do the work of defending our territory. He was always willing to do work that someone, somewhere, would have to do in order for the Whole - the Nation, in this case - to endure.
He is eminently practical. If I had handed him Jack Kornford's "Indian Givers", or made some comment to him about how "we took the land from the Indians" he would have asked me if I expected we should give our house to the Indians and, if so, which Indians, and did I know them, and how would that actually work if we did it ,and would we move to another house and give that away, too, or did we just have to give away one, and did everyone have to give away their house or just us, and what would happen to the people who didn't want to do that, and so on.
I suppose the missile conversation would have worked the same way.
His family is from the deep Mississippi South. My grandfather was a postal worker, and delivered mail back when the "rain, hail, sleet, and snow" motto meant something. Dad got a lot of those Confederate Post Office genes.
Well, it's interesting how this got off onto Dad. I'm going to post it, then come back for more.
-- Anonymous, October 09, 2001