And The River Opens For The Righteous
On this Veteran’s Day 2013 I honor my father-in-law, Bob Bushweit for his service starting at the age of 18 in World War II where he fought as a member of Patton’s Third Army across Africa and Europe and actually did preserve our freedom and our democracy as part of the greatest generation.
It is not hard to see these men and women as America’s true heroes – uprooted from their lives and sent to the European or Pacific theaters under harsh, brutal and primitive conditions without any of the technology, medical advances or modern conveniences that are an afterthought for today’s military. They didn’t know if they could win, many times were on the verge of losing and the fear and isolation they experienced never stopped them.
While we honor today the service, sacrifice and loss of all our military members, there was no threat to our homeland, our freedom or our democracy from the North Koreans, the North Vietnamese, the Cambodians, the Iraqis, or the Afghanistan people. Our men and women were put in harm’s way by politicians for different reasons, none of which have ever proven to be worth it. It’s not the men and women in uniform’s fault in any way and it does not diminish their personal service but it is not the same thing as putting your life on the line to protect and defend our American way of life.
But we do have a threat today to our freedom, our future and civilization as we have enjoyed it during our lifetime. A threat equal to or greater than any the Third Reich or Japanese Imperial Army ever posed to the men, women and children of the USA. And the people who are MY heroes, the ones I consider our greatest patriots today are those on the front lines fighting climate change.
I’m talking about people like Al Gore, Bill McKibben, James Hansen, Michael Brune, Michael Mann, Joe Romm, former president of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed and the others around the world whose names are unknown, whose stories are yet untold, whose work is the most sincere and meaningful form of patriotism our nation knows.
Little Stevie Van Zandt wrote the lyrics to the song I consider MY national anthem. And no one touches me more deeply when I hear him sing it than another great patriot who has devoted most of his life to selflessly working on the environment and justice issues I care about – Jackson Browne.
Here he is singing it solo acoustic in 2008. Give it a listen and see how it makes you feel:
American artists like Jackson and Bonnie Raitt – to name two I admire most – have been serving this country since they voluntarily enlisted to fight for truth, justice and the true American Way many decades ago.
They don’t expect to have any parades held in their honor, or to be held up as anybody’s hero. But hold them up I do because their work – like the work of the scientists, activists, organizers, volunteers and other climate hawks I admire – enlightens and inspires me to do the work I do.
The work I do is my patriotic duty. It is my payback for the heroic men and women like Bob Bushweit who sacrificed their own self interests for the greater good.
If I didn’t serve my country right now in her greatest time of need by giving my all to fight climate change, stop the burning of fossil fuels and switch to 100% renewable energy then I’d consider myself a gutless unAmerican coward who had turned his back on the generations who come after me. That’s not the way I roll.
Especially not when I recognize that I’m a member of the lucky sperm club. You don’t win the lottery any bigger than being born a white, American male during the baby boomer years. No people have every been born with a bigger head start or built-in advantage than my group – and there’s a few of us who know that and understand the responsibility that comes with that booster seat. As our nation’s greatest intelligence officer ever, Agent Maxwell Smart, always said, “If only they had used their powers for good instead of evil.”
No terrorist organization or foreign country has the power or ability to destroy what we love most about our country the way the oil, coal and gas industries are doing right now using our climate as a weapon of mass destruction. They will burn every barrel of oil, every ton of coal, every fracked tank full of natural gas until they melt every frozen thing and literally cook this small island planet we all spin around the galaxy on.
My personal sense of patriotism demands that I defend this island, whatever the cost may be. So together with other brave patriots of today we shall fight on our beaches, we shall fight on our landing grounds, we shall fight in our fields and in our streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never, ever surrender.