Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A Must Read Blog Post With Some Observations Post Cold War

Cold War Culture

I remember when I received my campaign medal. It came in the mail with
a standard issue manila parchment commending me for my faithful
service. There was no celebration, and no bands playing songs of
tribute. It was an ordinary day, and as I gazed down the street from
my American home, I saw no yellow ribbons, or flags. There were no
gold stars displayed, with grieving mothers behind the doors from
which they may have hung. It was just a relatively ordinary American
day of manicured lawns, shining automobiles, and mass media. I felt no
pride at its arrival. Sure it stirred up some old memories of long
days at sea, of digging foxholes, friends and fellow patriots, long
hours of studying enemy aircraft, and practicing for the ever
impending nuclear, chemical or biological attack. I thought about my
days as a Sailor, and my days as a Soldier. I wondered if somewhere in
Russia or one of the many other former Soviet states, if they were
receiving medals in their mail too. On the radio, the "Winds of
Change" by The Scorpions played.

Yes, it was just an ordinary day, yet in only a short distant past,
the world was engaged in a great war. A war in which more money was
spent, and more lives were affected, than in any other war. It wasn't
a war of falling bombs and tanks, although there were plenty produced
for it. This war had no battlefields where men bled and cried out to
their gods, though there were plenty of prayers for it. There were no
prison camps, however there was plenty of barbed and razor wire
produced and utilized. No, this war was different, it was a cold war,
a war of differing ideologies, where propaganda and fear were the
primary weapons, and we all were the casualties, military and
civilian; poisoned by media sound bites, and regurgitated prejudices.
And like any war, in some ways we still hold a grudge against our
former enemy, and why not, after the endless barrage of propaganda
that we were fed? In our collective fears we still dread that the
enemy will reconstitute its army and its evil ideology and lead us
back to the subliminal battlefield.

Russia, along with every other country that fell under its ideology of
socialism was our enemy. We saw evidence of its evil through our news
channels, views of the Red Square, as tanks and missiles were paraded
beneath blazing red flags, cold wintery landscapes, large unattractive
women wearing head scarves, and  seemingly, every man wearing a Soviet
uniform emblazoned with a red star. In the soviet block they saw
similar scenes of American and western militaries and their might,
were fed a constant diet of anti-capitalist propagandas They too
looked at us as an evil empire, seeking to dominate the world, enslave
their people to our ideology, and destroy their way of life, and in
the process their lives were changed

In schools across America, Atomic fallout shelters were built, and we
rehearsed atomic bomb drills, "Stop, Duck, and Cover!" yes, even
cartoons displayed the ever impending doom that awaited our way of
life. "Comrade" and "Commie" became foul words, and could be heard
echoing through backyards and sand hills wherever kids played. After
all, it was a well known fact that the "Commies" had infiltrated our
society, and we all had a part in defeating their evil advance.
Hollywood was so infested with "Commies" that it became the focus of
intense congressional investigations, resulting in the destroyed
careers and lives of a number of men and women. The fear of communism
and socialism panicked nations into supporting the proliferation of
bigger and more destructive weapons. The cold war caused us to
distrust the intentions of our neighbors, created embargoes and the
deprivation to millions of people of basic needs; to quote the recent
outgoing president, "You (were) either with us or against us".

On a brighter side, but no less nefarious one, the cold war drove us
to the moon but only in order to get there first. On a beautiful
evening in July of 1969 we watched a US astronaut walk on its surface,
Oh! We were a proud nation on that night, after all, it would have
been the ruin of us all had Russia and the evil empire got there
before us.
The Cold Wars "Space Race" and intense push for defense technologies
fueled imaginations, resulting in new hi-tech gadgets such as
transistor radios, computers, microchips and microwaves, and even
better cameras. Indeed, the digital age was born from the Cold War.
It brought prosperity to the rich, who created work, in the huge
insatiable defense industry, lengthened the work week to a 24/7
schedule and the middle class grew. The growth of prosperity and the
need to keep workers nearby, created the building of row upon row of
houses in the suburbs that surrounded our cities. It was after all
imperative that we produce the finest goods and technology, at the
best price, and then flood every possible market with those goods in
order to ensure our freedom and our way of life, and our new hi-tech
lifestyles in suburbia.

I wonder about it now, how our freedom and way of life might have been
saved by a transistor radio and a microwave oven, and can hardly see
the correlation, albeit the prosperity that it injected into our way
of life. But I wonder how adversely it affected us. We became so
entrenched into the capitalist dream, its mass marketing and goods,
and credit to pay for the goods, that it seems we lost something.
Perhaps it was the simpler life that we entered the Cold War to
protect, Perhaps it was our resistance to materialism, value still
preached in churches across our landscape, but seemingly un-American
to embrace. We certainly lost faith in our leaders as secrecy
prevailed in the hallowed halls of our government, and senators and
congressmen became corrupted by the greed that is inherent in a
capitalist mindset. But I think the biggest thing we lost was our
innocence. We lost the essence of charity, and of being a good
neighbor for the sake of being a good neighbor. The Cold War, with its
overly emphasized push for capitalism and free markets, placed a price
tag on everything. Now it seems that everything is for sale, from
Apple iPods to virginity.

In the end, we won the war, and for a short time after, we were
prosperous. Since then we have found another ideology to fear, and
this time we have taken it to battlefields, employing that technology
which was to be our salvation, our freedom to prosper, and to spread
our principles of democracy and capitalism. I wonder what will be lost
in this fight, as inevitably, something is lost in every fight.

My campaign medal now rests in a box somewhere. I looked for it one
day after thinking about my days of service to my country, and the
youth that I sacrificed to a nation of fear. I have never found it,
and maybe its better that it rests

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