I am on a plane somewhere over the Pacific Northwest. I just finished, for the second time, John Ringo's second book of the posleen war series, Gust Front. If military science fiction is not your thing then I do not suggest it. However, the author makes many many observations on what it means to be human. The value of a human life, humanity's will to survive, and courage in the face of certain doom. Some may find it strange that I am reassured by a futuristic military novel about the invasion of a reptilian species on earth. But there is a lot of history packed into Ringo's fanciful tales. The afterword of the book is something that grabbed my attention and I am not sure without understanding the preceeding story that I can relate it to you. Ringo is a lover of Kipling by virtue of his father's love of Kipling. I love Kipling by virtue of my grandfather's love of Kipling. If you have never read "IF" I suggest it. The afterword of Ringo's book is in memory of his father who fought as a combat engineer in WWII.
Basically the novel compares past heroes of the greatest generation to that of a not too far distant future's soldiers. In the end my generation is not found lacking but we have serious losses at first. I am going to quote the author because he makes some valid points regarding our current and possibly future situations.
"the societal conditions that provided the warriors for the American Army in WWII were unprecedented in history. It was a society that was more technologically advanced than any nation in the world, but had fallen upon hard times so that there was a great need for work. Also these hard times had hammered out some of the impurities in the metal (of our society) already. What was left was pretty good iron that was made into hardened steel by 1944. If a similar situation (a crisis similar to that faced in WWII) were to occur today, such would not be the case. Personally, I like the present day.
We have been living in, lest anyone be confused, a Golden Age. With it we are beginning to suffer the ills that accompany the end of a golden age (if you think there are any new ills under the sun, read your history, there aren't. But given the choice between a decadent golden age and a stoic time of privation and war ...give me the golden age. But, and there is always a but; if a situation were to occur today which called for a national will to survive it would be difficult to replicate that "Greatest Generation".
First we would have to go through the sort of pre-tempering phase that the Depression caused which would sort out the lesser, weaker impurities. Only then would we be a nation prepared for the greater test."
Ringo wrote this book ten years ago. Look at what has happened in the last ten years. I hate being morose or melodramatic and I don't like to attempt prophecy; but I think the foundations are laid for the tempering process. I think we are at the beginning of forging a new greatest generation. I think that we are soon to face the question of whether the experiment in self rule that is our nation will continue or whether, to borrow a phrase from Reagan, "we devolve into the ant heap of totalinarianism"
I think both sides of the contest would agree that we cannot keep going like this much longer; something has to give.
I have heard Glenn Beck say repeatedly that he has hope and until somewhat recently I was not sure what he meant. I think I do now, the times that lay ahead will likely seperate the wheat from the chaff. If that farmer terminology escapes you, the weak from the strong. In more direct terms it will seperate those willing to work and prosper; or fail, by the sweat of their own brow and the strength of their characters' without begging or demanding something from their fellow man; from the worthless multitudes of parasites with their hands out demanding their "fair share" while sitting on their asses.
This is going to be a painful process, but as I see it, a very very necessary one. Rome is burning and many are still fiddling and dancing. In the next few years we will again be forced to answer, as we did in 1776, 1812, 1862, and 1943 are we going to be free...or not?
That is how I am seeing it now. What do you think?