The History That Never HappenedFiled under Rants and Raves
I often imagine conversations with my grandchildren, should the world ever be lucky enough to host my offspring. I just hope they’ll be History majors. Not because “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” --- that’s always been a questionable cliché (see: “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.”). No, I wish history upon my grandchildren for purely selfish reasons.
You see, as A+ students of history, my grandchildren will develop a deep appreciation for primary sources. And this appreciation will drive them straight towards me --- the living fossil, the sage who saw it all.
I’m not exactly sure what questions my grandchildren will ask in 2070. All I know is this: I hope they don’t ask any questions about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Because I can’t imagine what I’ll say.
How will I be able to explain that I lived through the longest war in American history without collecting a single memory? Will they believe me when I say that it was a constant struggle to even notice that a war was being fought?
And who will I blame for that?
Was I the villain, swaddled in the Manhattan bubble, guzzling HBO gore while real limbs were blown off in the desert? Will the grandkids care that I always said the wars were a “bad idea,” that I prophesized their pointlessness when I was 13 years old? Will I take pride in the decibels of my noise or be ashamed that it might as well have been silence? Without a draft, without a tax hike, without a single sacrifice asked of me, did America even want me to care?
Or will I slither away from all that guilt, and point a few fingers at the media? I read the New York Times every day, I skimmed The Economist every week, I glanced at CNN in airports while waiting for planes to board. And still, I could barely even tell if the wars were still happening. Isn’t that the job of “journalists,” the profession whose death we’re supposed to mourn?
Will I glaze over my obliviousness, and whittle away an hour spewing vitriol at the politicians? Will it be time to mention the WMDs that never existed or the mutilated, suicidal veterans that couldn’t even get the VA phone operators to take them off hold? Will it be time to count the hundreds of millions of dollars in military equipment rusting away on Afghani airfields? Will it be time to condemn the delusional arrogance of the nation builders, who tried to bomb a prehistoric society into the 21st century? When will Heart of Darkness become required reading for Senators?
Maybe I’ll just sigh. And say I’m tired. And shuffle off to bed.