Paul Elisha

Commentator and Host, Poetry Forum

Ways To Connect

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.

As the beloved piquant paradoxical pin-striper, Yogi Berra, used to pipe – “It’s like deja vu all over again,” it’s precisely that, just two decades or so later, with the same old cast of characters and a few new faces added.

There’s no denying the heat of resentment that prodded America’s colonial rebellion to its ultimate break with British rule and the formation of a new system of governance, controlled and administered by an elected body of its citizens.  In retrospect, however, and given the passage of several centuries for calmer contemplation, this should not condemn every aspect of the British system to infamy and avoidance.  In fact, a thorough and unbiased study of our current system of governance, shows it lacking a mode of service not completely available within any of the three traditional branches of government into which ours is divided.  Closer scrutiny reveals a glaring need for its addition.  A Management Branch could well re-revolutionize the current United States triumvirate system of three governmental branches, all of which are held hostage to the insidious influence of the continuous cycle of elective politics.

At this depressing juncture of America’s ongoing history, if for whatever uncharitable reason, someone might want to provide an even more troubling vexation to dwell upon, the charge that ours is an anti-Organized Labor chronicle would turn out to be a truly fruitless choice.  A short stint of diligent digging by this commentator has turned up some interesting rebuttals.

This veteran of too much war and too much talk of it with too little substance, at too great an expense for too many to pay and too few to benefit, has discovered a long neglected and priceless truth, that we now can only ignore at our irrevocable peril.  In the Fourth Century-B.C., the super-wise philosopher Sun Tzu uttered an incontestable truth, still valid and destined to remain so:  “It is best,” he said, “to win without fighting.”  His wisdom was preceded by several generations of combatant statesmen, who were described by a contemporary historian as “…those with the clearest vision of the glory and danger before them, who notwithstanding, still went out to meet it.”

In his powerful book of verse: Divine Madness, the pre-eminent bard and psychologist Paul Pines begins one of his poems thus:

find a reed
that breaks rock
to reclaim whole cities
in the bush
call it a flower
without which
nothing is renewed