Merigian Studios


My Generation

My Generation

There are countless commentaries ahead in the next fifty-two weeks. There are so many social and political movements locally, nationally and globally that it is hard to choose the most interesting one. Most of them are interesting for any number of reasons.

One of the most appealing unfoldments is the current unrest created by the President- elect Donald Trump. Many patients believe that when he takes over the oval office at the end of this month, he will try to take this country back one hundred fifty years or more socially and politically. They feel threatened and voice their concerns about the future every day. I'm fairly confident that will not happen. What America has built over the past two hundred years will not be deconstructed in a four year span.

On the other hand, some patients believe President Trump will be the political Messiah of our modern age. They are not worried at all. "Let the man govern." To them, the nation's brand will improve. Our country will be more disconnected from the global milieu and they believe our nation will prosper because of it. Isolationism seems to be the buzz.

I remember my first year in college. Our country was in the Viet Nam War. In America, the war had different labels such as the Second Indochina War. In Vietnam, it was known as the Resistance War against America or simply the American War. The war started on November 1, 1955 and it was fought in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. The war ended on 30 April 1975 when the capital city of Saigon fell to the Viet Cong.

It was the second of the Indochina Wars. History records the war as being officially fought between North Vietnam and the government of South Vietnam. The Soviet Union, China and other communist allies supported the North Vietnamese military.  The United States, South Korea, Australia, Thailand and other anti-communist allies supported the South Vietnamese army. Political historians believe it was a Cold War-era proxy war.

Essentially, the Viet Cong were a South Vietnamese communist common front aided by the North. They fought using guerrilla tactics against anti-communist forces in the region. At the same time, the North Vietnamese Army, engaged in more conventional warfare, sometimes committing large units to battle. As the war unfolded, the guerrilla tactics of the Viet Cong decreased and the North Vietnamese Army's assaults grew. South Vietnamese and the U.S. military depended on air superiority and greater firepower to conduct search and destroy operations. Although most of the U.S involvement centered around artillery and airstrikes, we also committed substantial numbers of ground forces. As the war progressed, the U.S. conducted an incredibly large-scale bombing campaigns against North Vietnam.

The U.S. news media was relentless about the futility of trying to stop the North Vietnamese government and the Viet Cong from fighting to reunify Vietnam as a communist country. This was in fact a colonial war, much the same as our civil war. The First Indochina War pitted France against the same communist forces to stop the political takeover of South Vietnam by communist forces from the North. France pulled out of the region knowing that there was no way to stop the infiltration of the North.

The U.S. government continued the war, using the excuse that they were trying to prevent the Communist takeover of South Vietnam. The strategy of fighting in Vietnam was part of a greater containment policy: Stop the spread of communism.

When the war ended, the toll on our young American men was tallied up; 58,220 American soldiers had been killed, more than 150,000 had been wounded, and at least 21,000 had been permanently disabled. North Vietnam took over South Vietnam.

In order to supply the military with troops, the U.S. initiated and maintained a Draft. There were thousands of young people everywhere protesting the war and the senseless drafting of American men to fight in a war that was nothing more than a strategy to contain the global communist movement. Instead of helping the impoverished non-communist countries run by wealthy aristocrats rise from up their meager existence, the opinion of U.S. government officials was to escalate the war and sacrifice thousands of Americans in armed combat. When I was in high school, I remember seeing the futility of it all. So did many of my fellow classmates.

We committed to a social movement to stop the war and bring our young men back home. We desperately desired to stop the draft. It was absolutely unfair for those being drafted to fight in a war that was nothing more than a political chess match started twenty years prior. Our sovereignty as a nation was not threatened by the actions of the Viet Cong or the North Vietnamese Military on South Vietnam.

My generation and the ones before me protested hard. We had massive rallies against the tyranny of the U.S. Government. Presidents Nixon and Gerald Ford could not stop the protests. Every campus, every town square had gatherings and political rallies. My draft number was one hundred thirty-five. I was going to be drafted because the military enlisted young men down to one hundred sixty-five. The protests paid off. The draft was discontinued the year I was going to have to leave college and enter the military. As a fall out of the demonstrations, President Nixon put marijuana on the banned drug list, a strategy to arrest the protestors for marijuana use. His reason for banning marijuana: it was a gateway drug to other, more dangerous drugs of abuse. People went to jail for protesting under the guise of stopping the proliferation of drug abuse. How short sighted was he? But young people kept on protesting until change occurred.

Despite Nixon's efforts to continue fighting the spread of communism by ancient and outdated boots-on-the-ground strategies, the country's best interests were finally realized. The day he announced the draft was over, I sat and cried. It deeply meant something to me. Some protestors lost their lives as the National Guard tried to contain the frustrations of all young Americans on college campuses.

Why do I bring up the past? Because it was a better time. My generation was civilly engaged. The majority of young people today have fallen asleep. The fear and anxiety they express in my office about the uncertainties of the future is directly connected to their lack of compassion for themselves and for others. Many of them are too busy playing war games on video screens for hours at a time or flying drones to video the world from above. Social media has fostered an entirely different concept of what it means to be socially active or civilly engaged. Facebook cannot change the world.

It takes sincere honest hard work to turn a ship around, not the act of wishing it were better, or crying because things did not turn out the way one wanted it to. It does no good to protest the results of an election after an election has been completed. It does no good for members of congress to decide that they will not recognize the President-elect as our President. I did not like the outcome of the election, but the people of the United States chose the man they wanted. If young people have anxiety and fear as a result, do something about it. Get civilly engaged.

I turned sixty-years old this past year, I am not the future of our country. Neither is a seventy-one year-old billionaire still living in the 1970's. Although he has a connection with other seventy-year olds, he is out of touch with the different realities in our country. It is up to everyone to get civilly engaged at some level or just let the sticks fall as they may as if we are playing a game of political-pick-up sticks.

There is no question our country and every American citizen is in for an awakening in the next four years. It could be one of the greatest awakenings our nation has experienced. We have experienced awakenings such as the Oklahoma City bombing, 911, the Iraq war, Sandy Hook massacre and many more seriously disturbed societal tragedies. How many more tragedies does a generation or two need to become civilly active? We have seen government expand beyond our wildest dreams. We have seen the rich get insanely wealthy beyond our wildest dreams. President Elect-Trump's cabinet members combined financial worth is greater than the money one hundred million of our citizens own. The America I grew up in is not the America I live in today. It is not worse or better, it is just different. There is more good than bad, but the self-righteousness virus has infected a large segment of our population, making different sacrilegious.  

Watch the movie V for Vendetta if you have any question about what I am talking about because the next tragedy may include you or one of your loved ones. And if you are personally affected by a tragedy due to the apathy or rectitude of many of our fellow Americans, then it's too late. We cannot go back. Ever.

Get civilly engaged now somehow someway before it's too late.


Posted by Amanda Sanders at 10:55 AM
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