One of the mixed blessings of the aging process is that I’m prone to remember things. Of course I’m prone to forget things from time to time too, but we won’t talk about that right at the moment.
There are times that my memory and my grasp of the past is so comprehensive that I even remember things that didn’t happen 😉 or so it seems at times.
I was born 10 days after World War II officially ended. Therefore, my “real” memories of WWII are a bit suspect. But since, in my formative years it was the most common shared experience of all my family and adult friends, I feel I am pretty well connected to the War. I also am a real history buff and I majored in history at university, so, at least in my own mind I have a pretty good concept of what went on and how people reacted.
What am I really writing about here, today? Well I’m attempting to tie this into several of my preceding posts on the role of government .. and actually close that subject out. It’s getting perilously close to a political discussion to me, and the only thing that bores me worse than ballet or American football is, political discussions.
So in WWII, as a couple examples might make us believe, were the people, the John Q. Public or the Juan de la Cruz walking down the street in Manhattan or Manila a better class of folks than we see walking those streets today?
My thesis is, no they were not, but it’s easy to see why that assumption could be made. AMericans stopped driving their cars, planted victory gardens, collected scrap metal, bought war savings bonds, enlisted in droves and accepted all sorts of really strict government controls on life in order to ‘do their bit’ to help win the war.
Filipinos went off to war in huge numbers too. they slipped into the jungle and formed effective guerilla units also, even though in the days leading up to the war the Americans (it was US territory, remember) couldn’t even supply decent tennis shoes for the volunteer soldiers, let alone weapons. I could go on as well with stories I pretty much know to be true regarding heroics of Filipinos under Japanese rule but never giving up their cause.
Point being, do we see anything like that today? hardly. The ideal in the US seems to be get a degree in some kind of scammy futures marketing, pile up all the debt that you can (fake it ’til you make it), make the Columbian drug lords rich buying crack, bet whatever money is left over on football, and drive the biggest, most gas guzzling car that can be bought.
In the Philippines it isn’t a lot different. there’s anew bribery scandal every other day. The same people are fighting over the same ground with the same rhetoric in Mindanao as they did 10 years ago. The former deposed president, hounded out of office and saved from a death sentence by presidential pardon (which included a prohibition on political caparisoning) is busy running for office. A pack of cancer sticks costs 40 cents US, a 500 ml bottle of 80 proof whiskey costs 80 cents US, but the birth certificate a parent needs to send their child to primary school costs more than $13 USD .. several days pay for many people here.
Has the population in general just gone downhill in the days since World War II? I don’t think so.
But our leadership certainly has. And I think that’s a key. Anybody seen anything resembling Churchill’s speeches to the British (who were so close to being knocked out of the war that it boggles the mind). How about Wilson’s Fireside Chats, or Truman’s “the Buck Stops Here” slogan. Hardly.
The US economy is being brought to it’s knees principally by gas prices aided and bettered by the current president’s hand holding (literally) with mid-east oil barons. The prospective successors have no energy plans to speak of either. Has any of these so called “leaders” even done the obvious and used the free TV time he can have by snapping his fingers, gone on the air and said, “hello, stop buy those stupid Hummers, we’re in a tight spot and we need to pull together.” Nope. Any statements that do get made are only to try to spin things to “prove” to the American public that it has to be someone else’s fault. What has the average American been asked to do .. to improve the economy or to even fight the ‘war on terror’? Not a damn thing. Business as usual.
here in the Philippines we have our own crises. there is shooting war fighting going on in Mindanao as we speak. Know when I last saw the prudent on TV? meeting with executives who own private jets at the Baguio airport, assuring them that she will keep the airport open with government funds so that they don’t have to use ground transportation like the “common folk”.
In the meantime the country is routinely down to a few weeks supply of rice … while thousands and thousands of hectares go vacant and hundreds of thousands of able bodied men who need work .. so why are we buying Philippine-developed rice from Vietnam instead of calling out to people to get busy and raise their own?
I don’t know. reading back over this I’m not sure if I am making a point. But really, I think people in any country today are every bit as good as the people of the 1940s … they will respond if asked to do what is needed. What we (both the US and the Philippines) really need is a president who will ask.