Recent announcements by regional theaters and theatrical companies, in New York’s Capital District and in nearby New England, reveal a spate of performances by Broadway road-shows and locally arranged productions of renowned theatrical works of the past. Their goals, to make today’s younger audiences familiar with them, thus keep them historically alive. The idea, although rooted in increased audiences and revenues, is an entirely worthy one. So much so, it put this elderly commentator on the scent of an appropriate vehicle to familiarize young people with historic political events, worthy of remembrance, through retelling by ethical narrators. Thus providing better informed citizens, should the same situations occur again, in the future.
There’s been much angst expressed by parents of America’s children and youth, of late, about the rapid erosion of funds and services, to provide education needed to prepare them for appropriate and gainfully competitive adulthood. There’s also been a mounting volume of critical carping and castigation by those in government, responsible for providing the funds necessary to achieve adequate levels of education and warnings of dire consequence, from those invested with the onus to plan and produce educational services at superior levels of educational accomplishment, from the President and throughout his executive departments.
Back before the phenomenon called “Social Media” Ping-ponged anyone and everyone’s personal plaints as gospel, across a fact-hungry universe, H.G. Wells declared: “Lies are the mortar that bind the savage individual into the social masonry.” He may have been right but what about truth? What’s become of it in this mélange of personal prerogative presentations, unleashed and unlicensed?
For those of us with multi-generational and still functioning memories, except for techno-centric system difficulties, there’s little to be optimistic about with respect to the present state of governance at just about every level, in these apparently ‘disunited states of America’. For this archaic member of the so-called “Greatest Generation,” time seems to have U-turned into reverse mode, by more than ninety years. Although it had backed away from the League of Nations and World Court, The U.S. in 1921 (the year before this commentator was born) convened separate conferences on limiting naval tonnage and non-use of asphyxiating gasses; to which most nations agreed. The U.S. avoided signing a commitment against the use of armed force, without congressional approval, which somehow seems not to have been given.
In a recent issue of the ‘American Poetry Review,’ a revered teacher of this commentator wrote of the proclivity of many notable poets for revising their work, after finding imperfections. These, according to one anthropologist, were mischievously inserted by spirits of Nordic origin, to bedevil the poets into re-examinations. In recent years, he claimed, there were fewer of these episodes, because poets had stopped believing in the spirits. A dedicated poet, at heart, this commentator has found several verses among his own published works that might well benefit from such attention; not so much the result of folkloric mischief but changing times and ideas, that compel public attention. This explains the following revision of several pertinent poems, now set in combined form and revised from (“SWASH” by Paul Elisha):
In an ‘Armistice Day’ address, on November 11th, 1948, its last delivery under that aegis, when it was then re-titled: “Veterans Day,” to include U.S. Armed Forces participants in the Korean conflict, Army General Omar Bradley, reverently known to combatants as ‘The GI’s General, said: “The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.”
There’s something strangely illusory in the approach (in less than a month) of the 69th Anniversary of the end of WWII. For those of us in the inexorably dwindling number of veterans in this category, there are the unsettling news stories of the “Right-Wing surge in Europe,” and the seemingly continuing inability of former allies (This nation included) to achieve peaceful resolutions to still volatile and incendiary ignitions. These are dramatically fuelled by the wars and continuing intolerance of nations, still at odds over the seeming inequities that defy our abilities to analyze and end them.
At a time when athletics are at the forefront of both academic and professional sports activity in the United States, it’s of special interest to see their effect in both areas; a major chunk of which is being played out in the political arena. Still dominant is the factor of race prejudice, intensified by the presence of an African-American President, with strong interests in both sectors.
No matter on what thoroughfare we Americans may reside, there is only one truly two-way street in this country and sadly, too many of us have forgotten its significance and lost sight of where it leads.
In one of his most compelling utterances, Oscar Wilde quipped: “Experience is the name everyone gives to their youthful Mistakes.” If ever this nation was in need of helpful advice from practiced elderly statespersons, now is that time. Trouble is, most of those available to give it have morphed into politically posthumous prime and are only allowed into the limelight to add cache` at ceremonial events or – as younger miscreants, who committed irreparable political havoc, are now frenziedly refurbishing history, to justify their prior misconduct as ‘necessary evil.’ For such unseemly projects, they form tandem arrangements with ghost-writers, eager to glean money and merit from the commercial media, which has scant scruple about manipulating inexpert voter opinion. The endgame effect of such shenanigans is a travesty in trust for those who need it most--- the voters whose voices are the most persuasive vehicles for change, when public policy hunts vital options between peace and war; economic vigor and regressive recession.