So you’re graduating from college, or maybe grad school. Perhaps you were even dumb enough to have gone to law school. And somewhere in the next three or four weeks, they’re going to put you in a cheap black robe, stick a flat, pointy hat on your skull and seat you in alphabetical order with a bunch of your peers, to listen to sage advice. Some captain of industry, shoestring Kennedy or fading middle-aged celebrity’s going to tell you where you’re headed, what you’ll see… what you ought to do. He’ll throw around words like “dare” and “strive,” and tell you to chase your passions. He’ll tell you life’s a “journey,” liken it to a trek up a mountain, a sea voyage or some historic Roman battle. You’ll sit there through a blinding hangover, stanching an urge to vomit, tuning out most of the words. You’ve heard it all before, the customary overtures and slogans, the charges to go out and “make a difference.” Yeah, yeah, yeah. Leave the world better than I found it. Check. Never lose a sense of wonder at the majesty of humanity. Indeed… And you’ll probably ask yourself, Why all the saccharine bullshit? Why not give me some real fucking advice?
I’m with you, kid. I thought exactly the same thing. The only interesting comment my university commencement speaker offered was, “Always be prepared to change professions. Try everything. Life’s short.” I never forgot that instruction; probably never will. Maybe that was a good thing, maybe not. But in the spirit of offering some similarly memorable advice, something that actually addresses the world you’re going to encounter, the people you’ll have to manipulate for the rest of your career, here’s the commencement address I’d give if I had the podium at your school. The one you’ll never, ever hear.
“Don’t Be the Punchline”
Good morning. I’d like to start by noting, you’re all fucked. The Market’s going to 6000 this summer, unemployment is headed to twenty percent and I think there’s a good chance we’re going to see widespread rioting in the streets before this thing is over. Mutant armies irradiated with dirty bomb fallout, dogs and cats living together… everything but the Rapture. My advice is buy a gun. Something automatic. And get some big dogs. You’ll need them to guard the compound. The good news is you won’t have to pay back those student loans. The bad news is you’ll have to turn tricks for Spam, candy corn and toilet paper, our new forms of currency. I know, I know… How bleak. But you can always look on the bright side. Speaking in the Confucian sense, you’re as wealthy as one can be. These are indeed interesting years. Here’s to surviving them.
Okay. Now that I have your attention, let’s get serious. I’m going to break this down to a series of discrete points, the only conceivable arrangement in which I could hope to impart advice on as general a subject as “How you ought to live your life.” Here we go:
1. Ignorance is bliss.
People will tell you to question, to look inside and underneath all the systems in our society and ask why do what we do. I say leave this to others. The inquiries will drive you mad.
By RANDALL CHASE, Associated Press Writer Randall Chase
Mon Apr 6, 7:42 am ET
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. – The Pentagon’s 18-year ban on media covering the return of fallen U.S. service members ended with a solemn ceremony for the arrival of a flag-draped casket of an airman felled in Afghanistan.
After receiving permission from family members, the military opened Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to the media Sunday night for the return of the body of Air Force Staff Sgt. Phillip Myers of Hopewell, Va.
The 30-year-old airman was killed April 4 near Helmand province, Afghanistan, when he was hit with an improvised explosive device, the Department of Defense said.
Myers’ family was the first to be asked under a new Pentagon policy whether it wished to have media coverage of the arrival of a loved one at the Dover base mortuary, the entry point for service personnel killed overseas. The family agreed, but declined to be interviewed or photographed.
On a cool, clear night under the yellowish haze of floodlights on the tarmac, an eight-member team wearing white gloves and camouflage battle fatigues carried Myers’ body off of a military contract Boeing 747 that touched down at 9:19 p.m. after a flight from Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
Myers’ widow and other family members, along with about two dozen members of the media, attended the solemn ceremony, which took about 20 minutes and was punctuated only by clicking of camera shutters and the barked salute orders of Col. Dave Horton, operations group commander of Dover’s 436th Airlift Wing.
Horton presided over the ceremony along with Air Force civil engineer Maj. Gen. Del Eulberg and Maj. Klavens Noel, a mortuary chaplain.
Noel and the other officers boarded the plane for a brief prayer before an automatic loader slowly lowered the flag-draped transfer case bearing Myers’ body about 20 feet to the tarmac, where the eight-member team slowly carried it to a white-paneled truck.
Preceded by a security vehicle with flashing blue and red lights, the truck then slowly made its way to the base mortuary, where Myers’ body was to be processed for return to his family.
Myers was a member of the 48th Civil Engineer Squadron with the Royal Air Force in Lakenheath, England, one of the bases the U.S. Air Force uses in the country. He was awarded a Bronze Star for bravery last year in recognition of his efforts in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Department of Defense said.
Myers’ widow flew from England to attend the arrival of his body to the U.S., which marked the first time since 1991 that members of media were allowed to witness the return of a combat casualty to Dover.
The ban was put in place by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, at the time of the Persian Gulf War. From the start, it was cast as a way to shield grieving families.
But critics argued the government was trying to hide the human cost of war. President Barack Obama had asked for a review of the ban, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that the blanket restriction made him uncomfortable.
Under the new policy, families of fallen servicemen will decide whether to allow media coverage of their return. If several bodies arrive on the same flight, news coverage will be allowed only for those whose families have given permission.
by sherry clark
“If you are open to recognizing that the United States behaves much as other great powers have behaved, but you get your information through the standard American Channels, I dare you to expose yourself to the facts that have been suppressed by our newspapers and magazines. If you are one who wants to be a disciple of Jesus, you will have some hard thinking to do about what American Christians are called to be and to do at this historic moment.”
-John B. Cobb Jr, coauthor of The American Empire and the Commonwealth of God
Never utter these words, “I do not know this, so therefore it is false.” One must study to know, know to understand, and understand to fairly judge. I sincerely hope that you don’t know what is going on in this country…because that would explain the Christian community’s eerie silence. I can easily forgive you for not rising up to speak out against such grave threats if you haven’t yet recognized them as such. I myself recently woke up from the American fantasy. I always thought that the land that I loved was good…like Santa Clause.