The face of my mood watch1 has turned black. Agitated. I usually maintain a “serene” green. I attribute THAT to a commitment to yoga. So why is it black now? I just read an article in the the Atlantic Jan/Feb 20112. I’m not a regular reader of this periodical but I linked to it through a Facebook friend who is, thankfully, quite intelligent. The article is called “The Tyranny of Defense Inc". Two other factors, unrelated to this article but still literary, have contributed to my growing sense of agitation and unease: an article in the Dec. 2010 Marie Claire by Abigail Haworth with no discernible title only marie claire INTERNATIONAL REPORT and “The Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins.
Since I read the Marie Claire article first I’ll start there. China. I never really gave the country much brain time. I’ll summarize my schema on China: I saw “The Last Emperor” at the theater, I remember Tiananmen Square massacre and thought it frightening but decidedly communistic, I know there are over a billion Chinese citizens and am aware of their One Child Policy, and probably 80% of my possessions are labeled Made in China.
It was the One Child Policy the Marie Claire article visited. In my naïve mind I assumed that the billion Chinese were all supportive of this rule. I never considered how a rule like this could or would be enforced. Abigail Haworth eloquently describes the brutality the Chinese government employs to mercilessly force women to adhere to this protocol. Some women have openly defied this policy with no repercussions, until recently. In the Quangdong province the local Family Planning Bureau unleashed what it called an “Iron Fist Campaign” targeting 10,000 women who had had more than one child.3
Relatives of these women were imprisoned4 until they submitted to [this was in quotation marks in the article] “ remedial surgery” or sterilization. Some women were forced to abort babies 8-9 months in development.5 What does this have to do with U.S. defense or even The Hunger Games”? They are all about governments, fair or oppressive laws and the people they all help or endanger.
I was recently informed that “The Hunger Games” was on a required reading list for middle school students. I’m not sure students at that hormonal level can truly internalize the valuable lessons woven into the story. It’s exciting and poignant but can they see any connection to Katniss’s, the heroine, world and our world today? I immediately connected the events in the story to the plight of the Chinese, whose government also rules with an iron fist, tank and machine gun.
So many Americans complain about “big government,” or how the government is trying to dictate our lives. I agree- to a point. It seems many laws are written and passed because of the stupidity of some citizens and those altruists determined to save them! See examples below.6 The Hunger Games (I’m referring to the actual games in the book of the same name.) is an unscripted video game the government of Panem orchestrates at the expense of two youths from each of the 13 colonies, I mean districts. Except the 13th district was obliterated by the central government after an uprising there. I point THIS out because I hate when I hear this solution to social unrest/terrorism- ‘just blow them off the map.’
The people in each district are policed and worked to near starvation with no options to make their situation any better. Last night I finished the second book of the trilogy, Catching Fire, and was not disappointed. [Except, I can’t get my hands on a copy of the third book, Mockingjay, for 12 more days, unless I go and buy it somewhere.]
The beauty of this story is the unity of the downtrodden to change the government dictatorship and control of the deliriously diseased wealthy. The rebels don’t want violence just reform. But because the government uses only military might the rebels must confront that obstacle to change. Hence the dilemma of the Chinese. Each soldier/police is someone’s son or daughter. This leads to the article The Tyranny of Defense Inc.
Tim and I have discussed Eisenhower’s speech urging Americans to beware of the “military industrial complex.” I don’t think I appreciated the scope of what his warning encompassed. Eisenhower told America in the 1950s “Every gun made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” But a national security urgency real and/or fabricated ruled the day and subsequent decades. Eisenhower’s words went unheeded by the public. The cold war and proliferation of nuclear weapons were the stuff of my nightmares at age 10. There always seems to be a national security issue: Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Nicaragua, Libya, Persian Gulf, Iraq. Again, this is a subtext, for me anyway, in “The Hunger Games” trilogy. In Catching Fire a mentor’s last words to one of the contestants before entering the arena is simply, “You just remember who the enemy is.”
Who IS our enemy? Who ISN'T our enemy? I don’t think it’s the current Congress or President. So many promises were made to reach their positions if they could only hold onto those ideals they presented to the public once all the nastiness was removed. It’s the pseudo-safety alliance dictating national budget disbursement who should be feared and held accountable. The Atlantic article discusses a huge network of national security groups and contractors that consume a colossal amount of our budget. The money the US spends on “military outlays” approximately EQUALS that spent by all other nations combined! That just makes my jaw clench and my mood watch turn black.
We can’t change generations who have been indoctrinated in a “might is right” society and have seen the economic benefits of preparing for wars. But if enough stand together, rethink the educational objectives our youth should achieve, and drive home that it is the individuals in a democratic nation who are important, not simply instilling a democracy on us and other countries. If we can all be responsibly democratic maybe we can achieve a lasting, worldwide peace. Isn’t that what we all want???
And if I can get my hands on that third book of the trilogy maybe Panem found a way to live honorable and peacefully.
Newt Gingrich made a speech in response to newly elected President Obama’s speech where the President declared he was a “citizen of the world.” In his speech Gingrich stated, with not a shred of embarrassment, that he was NOT a citizen of the world but of the United States. Well, if he’s not a citizen of Earth then he ought to blast off on the next space shuttle because that attitude is the root of the problem with our government/politics.
1- The mood watch was a Christmas gift. It's face changes colors due to body heat.
3- This particular passage is written almost word for word from the article.
4- These prisons were STANDING ROOM ONLY!!!!!
5- It just occurred to me how odd it is that in our country people are fighting to keep the right to abort babies and in China they are dying for the right to give birth!
6- Laws made due to stupidity: Wearing seatbelts, texting while driving, drinking and driving, gun laws, drinking age laws, use of steroids...