We Americans have a way of making horrible tragedies into celebrations. In psychology, we call it reframing. Maybe the most artful reframing is done on Memorial Day.
On Memorial Day we have barbecues, family gatherings, parades and people wave the red, white and blue. We worry about how we look in our bathing suits. We eat and drink too much, go to baseball games or just mindlessly chill. There are some sobering facts in 2016 that make me worry about “our way of life.”
One percent of the population owns 60% of the wealth while the rest of us share the other 40%. I’m not sure I’d be storming the shores of Normandy if I knew I’d be doomed to be one of the 99%.
I don’t want to be cynical, and this experiment we call “The American Dream” is a worthy one, but it has become tarnished by selfishness and greed. The conundrum in Washington, the lack of unity in our America, makes me sad for those who may have faced their mortal moments in hopes of preserving something better.
Speaking of mortal moments, I was thinking of the movie “Gallipoli,” and the guys in the trenches watching the “first wave” mowed down ahead of them, knowing they were next. What would they have thought about a President Donald Trump? Or a President Hillarie Clinton for that matter?
If soldiers are lucky to make it home, they are reintroduced to a fragmented America, a “What have you done for me lately” America, that makes them grapple with a governmental miasma to get their benefits.
I am sobered by these thoughts and don’t really feel like wrapping them in parades and hot dogs. The ugly grit of war, the loss of life and the maiming of fellow human beings doesn’t make me want to march or eat.
What I hope for is sanity, the ebbing of egos and a revolution of consciousness that makes this holiday obsolete. If we can give a thought to this on Memorial Day, maybe our hearts will be in the right place.