Nothing really

I try to write in my private journal. It seems more authentic and honest. But then, I hardly write, despite thinking about it and often meaning to. I even work out songs and poems sometimes while driving home from school.

Only, I feel like writing, but I am pressed for time, and it is quicker to type here.

I am obsessed with life and with mortality lately. My grandmother died, but I didn’t know her. Now I wonder about her. I found out she had earned a number of certifications and a degree of some sort in criminology of which she was very proud. I found this out accidentally, and asked my mother about it. Mother said she has the degree, which is quite large, somewhere in the house. She feels bad discarding it because it was special to my grandmother, but she doesn’t know what to do with it. I told Mom I will take it, though not now, since we will be moving in only a few months (and then probably not even a year later).

I might as well tell the truth here, since I very much doubt anyone will find this who would be upset to see my do it. My grandmother tried to abort my mother. In those days, this was illegal. The procedure was obviously not “successful.” Knowing this has no doubt filled some of the distance between my mother and myself and my grandmother. How does one not take such a thing personally?

Yet I endeavored to understand my grandmother. What was it like in the 60s? She was an unwed mother. She and my grandfather had broken up before the pregnancy was known, and she did not seek assistance from him. Indeed, he only knew about my mother through the grapevine for many years.

Well, I am glad my mother lived, of course. At other times in my life I have wished that I had never been born. I would be surprised if I never feel that way again, but at this stage, I am happy to be alive, and I do fear death.

I have been thinking of the draft lately. I watched “Gangs of New York,” which prompted me to talk to my father for some reason. We talked about how the draft had begun, and he told me his number was the next one up right when the Vietnam War ended. So in a similar way, I thought how Uncle Sam, and not my grandmother, could have prevented my existence.

I met a veteran on the streets recently. Looking at his face was like looking at my uncle. He was tall and blue-eyed, dignified. The strength of my uncle’s will and mind seemed to make his body appear stronger–though it was very weak and broken in the last days. He suffered because he was drafted. I wonder all the time how it might have been different for him if he hadn’t gone. I wondered about all the Vietnam veterans.

I thought about, have been thinking about, that is, what an evil it is to take a young man away from his mother. The draft is a crime against men, but it is a crime against these women who spend 18 years raising men up just to have them torn down by the stupidity of war.

And I do mean stupidity. Vietnam was no World War II. Americans were not needed to help end a genocide. Very few of our wars have ever been worthwhile. How can the government force men to go die for corrupt causes? And if the cause were good–say we were in a fight to protect our land and freedom, for instance–then a draft would still be wrong because either people would volunteer, or it would be right for them to lose that for which they refused to fight.

I can’t imagine having a son grow up and get called to go kill or be killed in some farce. Even if I had a daughter today, by the time she turned 18, she would likely be subject as well. I think it is sick.

To borrow the Baptist vernacular of my youth (I became a Christian and a Baptist at age 16), I suppose I’d say I have PTSD on my heart. Of course there are also the dead and the physically mutilated to care for. But I am most perturbed that people are sent to wars, then return appearing well… but they aren’t well at all. I won’t detail the suicide statistics. Isn’t it inexcusable to destroy people’s minds? To disturb their dreams and disorder their nervous systems for perhaps their entire lives?

So it is one thing for those who volunteer. But it is another to draft people. And it is not an irrelevant issue. So Vietnam was many years ago. So there are only so many more years before all the Vietnam veterans have died. So? As my wonderfully apolitical husband wrote recently, “Donald Trump has been elected president, so nothing seems too far-fetched.” I don’t mean that these thoughts are based on fear of what Trump specifically will do. I mean that in 1933, how many Germans would have been able to predict what their country would look like in ten years? You cannot guard against what you do not even realize is possible.

So my thinking is not only about how I might die, or how I might never have existed. It isn’t just about war or loss. It is also about children. Children ought to be a motivator to improve the world, but there is only so much a parent can do. If we have children, we cannot keep them from another draft. We cannot keep the elephants, rhinos, polar bears, tigers, or countless other species alive for the children to see. We can only hope the fresh water and food shortages predicted by climate scientists (and which we have already begun to see) will not touch them or create conflicts which will touch them.

I have always been one of those people who does not think any time is better or worse than another. All are different. All have advantages and disadvantages, justice and injustice, evils and triumphs over evil. But it is hard to be optimistic or truly believe that any children of mine would live in a world that is as good or better than today’s. All we do is destroy, argue, hoard, and try to position ourselves better to be able to do those things! Socialism has never succeeded. Capitalism is not sustainable. What is next? Another Cold War? Another World War? Both? And then what?

Recently I was reading a short story by Tolstoy. In it one character speaks in favor of celibacy for all. Sex to him is an animal behavior that prevents humans from assuming our true and elevated identity. The person to whom he is saying this naturally asks how the human race would carry on without sex. Most interestingly, the reply is that… the human race was never meant to carry on forever. Religion, he says, predicts that the world will end, and science predicts the same!

Of course Tolstoy didn’t possess much scientific knowledge at all, but he was right about this. Religion and science do agree–more now than ever before, perhaps–that the world will end.

I do not have time to write more. I have work I must continue. These are only some of my thoughts lately.


2 thoughts on “Nothing really

  1. I appreciate your writing as much as I appreciate your being alive. So happy that your grandmother did not succeed at her attempt to end your mother. It does indeed make it hard to feel good about the degree that she was successful at. What a conundrum.

    Your outlook seems pretty dire. How much time do you work at the hospitals lately? I know you are immersed in schoolwork a lot and your husband has been deployed. I appreciate how this might have an effect.

    I have really taken to Judith Curry lately. Her approach to Climate change is more along mine. Asking questions instead of telling answers. Yes, Science has become like the worst in religion lately in its hubris to explain things away that it does not fully understand.

    I do believe man is an extreme pollutant. I just question the percentages and variables of it all.

    About our children, I really want to make sure they learn to ask questions. I don’t think I am leaving the world a worse place for them. We are all pushing through. I want to plant things and watch them grow. My dreams become simpler the older I get.

    Keep going Katherine. God placed your mother here. And you. And the veterans who fight the wars that others profit from. Somewhere there is a balance. I think it might be easier to find than we believe.

    God Bless you, my friend. I will keep reading.

    1. I would simply ask that as you question scientists’ conclusions about climate change, perhaps you also question your own conclusions about scientists. I interact with them on a daily basis, and the research position I’m starting next month is actually shared with a group called CAICE. You can Google it if you care, but they do climate research among other things. But my point is these people are not arrogant and self-assured like the scientists who are famous on Twitter or TV (that is, the ones who are more “personalities” than researchers anymore). I do not find many of them dogmatic at all. Sure they are quick to point out a well-established fact, but they’re pretty quick to point out gray areas as well. The further you go in science, the more you hear, “Hm, I really don’t know.” Science isn’t like a regular job either, where you pretty much learn how to do it, and with time you get better and better at it. You try different things, ask different questions, make different predictions…. And most of the time fail. That’s why despite the common perception, in my experience, scientists are pretty humble and realistic folks. Not to mention if they get caught BSing research or drawing iffy conclusions, their careers can be ruined.

      So yeah, there’s uncertainty in the extent of damage our pollution does. There’s also uncertainty in the number of votes that went to each candidate—but we can still accurately conclude that Trump won the race. Same with climate change. The thing is the world would still be better, for instance, if we quit burning coal. It would be better for West Virginians if they invested in creating a new economy, training their people to do new jobs so they don’t have to die of black lung. It would mean cleaner air for everyone to breathe. It would mean less toxic metal pollution in our soil and waterways–meaning healthier ecosystems and healthier food for us to eat…. I guess what I am getting at is that even if climate change were a big exaggeration or lie or mistake of a theory, it would still benefit mankind to behave as though it were true, so why don’t we do that? Not to get political, but reducing our dependence on fossil fuels could also help us–Americans, I mean–to get out of the Middle East, and particularly to break off our (in my opinion) unhealthy relationship with Saudi Arabia. That would have huge global implications! Just some thoughts… I know that you believe in pollution. You seem to be the sort of person who cares about God’s creation. So I am not trying to be combative or anything. I am just confused still why this is a controversial thing.

      Anyway, thank you for your kind comment. I am doing okay, and I do not think my outlook is too dire. The world is full of loveliness, and as bad as ever it gets, there will still be something lovely. Still… you know, you said you do not think you’re leaving the world a worse place for your children. I don’t think you are. But I wonder if SOCIETY isn’t leaving the world a worse place for them. Society is pretty bad at balancing. Just look how polarized we are in this country about politics when if you asked every individual what was most important to them and what they thought it meant to live a good life, they’d probably mostly say the same things! We are just a cantankerous species, and our technology seems to outpace our growth in the moral department. That troubles me.

      Well, this is QUITE a long reply, so I’m sorry. Don’t worry, I am no nihilist. Maybe a little bit dark and skeptical for a Christian, but I don’t mean to be a bummer to anyone. I like to write about everything, not only the beautiful things. I hope you’re well! Thank you again, and may God bless you and your lovely family as well. 🙂

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