Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll contemplates RENEWAL AND RENAISSANCE. She writes:

Every single winter in Minnesota – and several summers here in Arizona – I have looked in dismay at the trees and other dormant, frozen, or parched foliage in my yard and said, “Well, THAT ain’t comin’ back.” And I am always wrong. It feels good to be wrong. That which looks dead and gone springs to life, warms the heart, and renews the spirit.

The tree right outside the office of famous novelist Max Cossack was a forlorn statue of thin, barren twigs, and just within the last week, it has burst into green life with an exuberance that makes it seem to say, “I was just playin’ possum! Don’t EVER bet against me again, silly Grrrll!” (“Oh yeah? Well, the tree that was there when we moved in got eaten to death by termites, so don’t get too cocky…”)

And nothing like a couple inches of unexpected desert rain to cause the entire desert to bloom in zany madcap Day-Glo colors that were not even present in my original Crayola box of 64 with the special sharpener.

How spoiled are we that we marinate in a Slough of Despond when one election cycle does not go the way we hoped? And even give up on ordinary liberty-loving Americans and the entire future of America. Perhaps I am a bit more optimistic than some BECAUSE I have been so accustomed to LOSING. Because of my idiotic voting pattern early on – solid Democrat when sane Americans were voting for Nixon and Reagan twice – I have amassed a stellar record in national elections of 5 wins and 9 losses. That’s a whole lot of losing.

Maybe just a bit of historical perspective would be wise and helpful.

Take the Middle Ages. Please! Ba-dum-bum. Now, if you are unhappy with a politician, you might have four to eight years to endure his reign. Many people thought they would not “survive” eight years of “Bushitler” (because even the most milquetoast Republican is called Hitler eventually). But, you know what? They DID survive. Most even thrived.

Even more of us who did not fancy seeing our beloved country “fundamentally transformed” believed that we would not survive eight years of Obama. But, again, we DID. Those years coincided with my retirement and move to Arizona. There were many positive aspects to those years for me, including the Great Obama Ammo Drought of 2012-14 wherein I stood in line for hours waiting for scarce ammo and got my “handle” and my Friday guest column on Power Line. And being gifted at this advanced age with dozens of wonderful new friends.

Sadly, if you were born a serf in the Middle Ages, you were not looking at four or eight YEARS, but four or eight CENTURIES of misery with no relief in sight for you, your son, your granddaughter, or any of her offspring’s offspring. And forget voting out the King! In one Peasant Revolt, they came close to winning, but in the end the King promised reforms, the charismatic revolutionary leader was killed, and – are you sitting down? – the King reneged on his promises! “No, surely not,” I hear you cry! “Such a thing could never happen!”

Back in Middle Ages, not Middle Earth, fully one-third of you would not survive your first 5 years. Twenty-percent of your mothers would die in childbirth or soon after. Even if you were a Prince, or other Royalty, your life expectancy with very few outliers was 43.6 years for a woman and 48.7 years for a man. In other words, with precious few exceptions, almost everybody reading this column right now would already be dead!

And that life expectancy was a pipe dream if you were one of the 85 percent who were serfs living in a thatched-roof hut under squalid conditions much worse even than a teenager’s bedroom. No windows, ever-present smoke from cooking over an open fire, and just to put the cherry on top of the dung sundae — sharing living space with your farm animals.

Boy, Thomas Hobbes nailed it with his succinct description of life before modernity as “nasty, brutish, and short.” My only chance would have been to catch on as a Court Jester, although if the King did not like your routine, you could lose not only your paycheck, but your head. Talk about a “tough crowd”!

This was life for hundreds and hundreds of years. Speaking of centuries, don’t forget the fun of the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) wherein somewhere between 2.3 and 3.5 million soldiers and civilians were killed. For 116 years, England and France killed each other’s soldiers and civilians with gay abandon until one day England just up and left France with a billion gold crowns’ worth of crossbows, spears, catapults, and 10 million rounds of small stones abandoned. Unless I am thinking of a different war; I am no historian.

And no talk of the Middle Ages would be complete without the mention of one of the most fun parts – the Bubonic Plague (also known as Black Death) which in three years took the lives of 30 percent of Europe’s population. Here the people had a rare chance to stop working their farms or cooking barley stew next to the sheep when the wagons would come by and yell, “Bring out your dead!” So they had that going for them, which was a nice change of pace.

Luckily, Princess Deborah Birx was in charge of managing the Plague and recommended people go from village to village flagellating themselves and others for the sins which “caused” the Plague. Much later, a distant cousin of the brilliant Ms. Birx did work on COVID, recommending a strict six-foot distance between shoppers and double masks which worked exactly as well at containment as the flagellation strategy.

You think taxes are burdensome now? Well, you’re right! But those serfs in the Middle Ages had a small plot of land on which to grow oats, rye, barley, or peas. My grandparents were sharecroppers, but this system was yet worse. They not only owed 10 percent to the landowner in either goods or services, but they also frequently owed another 10 percent to the Church even if they weren’t very religious.

During this time, the VERY religious were among those who responded to the Town Crier’s yells to “See the World, Liberate the Holy Land, Get Better Food!” and went off on Crusades to liberate several important areas from the Moslem conquerors with varying results and bad will all round. Some families, believing it was something like a summer camp where young Reginald could get off his smokey pallet under the incontinent ewe, even sent their children on a Crusade. It didn’t end at all well – but, who could have predicted that?

So here’s the point, my friends. Things could scarcely have been more terrible for hundreds and hundreds of years. And yet people married, reproduced, loved, worshiped, worked like rented mules. We are facing nothing of the kind.

Some 50 years ago at a very large antiwar demonstration at the University of Minnesota, a fellow unknown to any of us activists, got up on the stage and said, “People! I have learned from students in California that Nixon has already built concentration camps for us.” He was almost certainly an agent provocateur, although there were enough nuts loose in the land that he could have just been deranged. People screamed. And I feared it was going to be a cattle stampede like we used to see in Westerns. I had to grab the mic and have him removed by our own security monitors. When I am the calm one in a situation, you know you’re in trouble!

But the point is that if you cry “Wolf” enough times, eventually nobody listens. Think about it – one side or the other has predicted doom and “the end of our precious democracy (sic)” during every election since I have been a voter! John McCain was going to put Whoopie Goldberg “back in chains,” remember? Ya basta! Enough!

My best advice for the long haul is do not focus overmuch on politics and screens. Cultivate new and old friends. Focus on God and family and love and things that are beautiful. Walk in nature. Listen to beautiful music, whether Brahms, Haggard, or Alison Kraus. Write in a journal. Practice gratitude and forgiveness, although not of this current Administration — at least until it repents!

And while I am all for lighting a fire under every patriot to fight like heck this election, it will not be the “end of the world” if we lose. But the good news is I don’t think we will lose. I really don’t. I see the beginning of “green up” – not the Greta Thunberg kind – where buds of hope and courage appear daily. If I am wrong, well, then we will live to fight another day, like General Washington at Valley Forge. The doomsayers who have already waved the white flag – especially so that they can say “See? I told you so” — are less than helpful. Courage!

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