Sunday, December 5, 2010

Nature abhors a vacuum

Holocaust: 1. a great or complete devastation or destruction, esp. by fire. 2. a sacrifice completely consumed by fire; burnt offering

I love the WWII memorial on the National Mall. Should say: I don't love the design; strangely someone decided to make it look like fascist architecture (what was THAT about?) But I do love the energy of that place. I love the pool and fountain, the arch of moving water at the center of the pool, and the way the memorial is placed between the Lincoln and the Washington monuments. On the mall itself, the WWII memorial is the only location where moving water can be found. It's a lovely, refreshing place to stop in the summer.

The WWII vets are great, too. They're old - they are SO old these days, but they're always cheerful, well groomed and have a peacefulness about them that I find interesting. WWII is the war it was OK to engage in. The lines of darkness and light were very clearly drawn, such a different energy than every war since then, and certainly different than the wars that preceeded it. I mean, WWI? Please explain. I've read a lot about it, but I still don't understand what happened. All I know is, it was a terrible war, terrible.

Certainly the way we welcomed the vets back from WWII, as heroes who slew the evil dragon of fascism, compared to the way we snubbed the vets returning from Vietnam, says a lot. Oh yeah.

WWII vets at the memorial. I took this last summer.

WWII was a holocaust. We fought against, but were also involved in the destructive side of that dark storm. We placed Japanese Americans in concentration camps. At the end of the war, we upped the fiery destruction in Hiroshima and Nagasaki by burning millions all at once with those terrible bombs. How about the bombing of Dresden? (Thanks, Kurt, for Slaughterhouse Five.) I could go on, but you get the picture.

There were a whole lot of burnt offerings in WWII. It was an awful war, even if a just war.

Right now I'm entertaining the notion that the baby boom was, energetically, a response to all the souls who who were killed in the war: in the camps, on the battlefields, in European cities, on the sea, and in Japan, too. Is it really any wonder that after the war, here in America, all we wanted to do was hole up in our suburban homes, make babies and cookies and align ourselves with a status quo of peace, safety and balance?

If we baby boomers hold, in any way you want to look at it, the energy of those killed in WWII, well ... wow. Our lifespans have included so much (at least here in the U.S.) We've known luxury and pampering, revolution, our consciousnesses have been raised again and again. I often say how grateful I am to have lived at this moment in history, raised in the post WWII American lap of luxury, coming of age in the late 1960's, still healthy and vital now at the launch of the 21st century.

I have a lot more to say about this, but this is more than enough for now. Am I barking up the wrong tree? Help me out, smart people. What do you think?


Susan said...

Dear Reya, I'm in such a negative mood this morning after a heavy dose of American television yesterday that I'm probably not the right person to respond - yet I wanted you to know I read this and appreciated it.
I'm seeing things from the opposite side this morning, but there's truth in what you have to say, too.
I suspect that the cosmic race to comfort and safety hasn't been very good for us, as we've swung so far to the "we want an easy life" that we're destroying ourselves.
But pendulums swing - and maybe there's a better balance ahead.
Best wishes from Luddite-town.

Reya Mellicker said...

I am pro-Luddite, and I vote! Would love to hear more of what you're thinking, Susan. What did you watch on TV yesterday?

ellen abbott said...

It makes sense to me. So many lives lost, so many souls disembodied, the life force on the planet depleted. I imagine the same thing happened after every great mass 'extinction' through war or plague. That biological imperative, to continue, to create life was probably kicked into high gear.

Dan Gurney said...

In my view, there are two sides of ANY war: on one side we find those who are willing to engage in slaughter; versus those, like Gandhi and MLK, who are not.

So I'm with pacifists--both German and American pacifists--in WWII. I regret that everyone in uniform whether in Axis or Allied spats failed to understand how deluded they were in imagining that the word "just" can modify the word "war."

steven said...

reya, two weeks ago i had an almost ninety year-old guy - a dutch resistance fighter during the second world war - come and tell his stories to my class. he blew my mind. he told us of being fourteen and stealing a truck from a german compound. he painted the truck a different colour and then used it to move stuff around the island he lived on. stuff like food for the jewish families they were caring for tucked away on lonely farms. he never hurt another person no matter what. his message to the kids was to live hard and honest and to make goodness wherever you can, however you can. i can live with that! steven

Jo said...

Powerful thoughts, Reya. I'm so glad you're taking time to absorb your thoughts and feelings before acting on them. This is a heavy subject, indeed.

The comments are all fabulous! I especially like the resistance fighter's message through Steven:

"Live hard and honest and make goodness wherever you can, however you can."

We can learn so much if we listen to the ancients of our time.

Nancy said...

This a very interesting look at our generation, Reya. I can't wait for you to expound on this trail of thought. I'm with you so far..

Carolina Linthead said...

WWII presents such problems for me! It was so very horrible, with more than 50 million lives lost. I so want to stand opposed to war...all war...for all time, and yet realistically I cannot see a way it could have been avoided. Global conflagration was coming, the U.S. had to choose sides, and we chose the lesser of two evils (given that Stalin became our ally!). I don't like that answer, but it's all I've got, and I've spent a lot of time studying and teaching history.

More to the point of your post, nature does abhor a vacuum, and life does find a way, hence the baby boom. Much hope for a better future swam alongside those little sperm as they sought out those eager eggs. That hope still abides, and with it love and faith, to borrow from scripture. Whatever we have now, I'll take, as opposed to the vision of the world shared by Hitler, Himmler, Speer, et al., or our one-time ally, Joseph Stalin. Whatever light we have within us to offer to the world, here's hoping we find a way to do so, at least imperfectly.

Reya Mellicker said...

I think hope definitely DID swim with the sperm. What a cool way to think about it. Thanks for that.

I'm non-violent, but less of a pacifist than I used to think I was. It's an interesting dynamic to manage. Violence is a part of nature, and I am a part of nature, so it's in me. The evolutionary edge has to do with how and when I express that part of myself.

War is so huge I don't get any part of it. "Global conflagration." Yes, it certainly was.

Much to ponder! Thanks to all for your wonderful thoughts and comments.

Karen said...

(Chiming in late here, but I thought I'd offer this anyway...)

Well, I think you're barking up a good and interesting tree. However, I wonder whether the pace of the post-war activities were a bit frantic or frenetic, and somewhat denial-inspired. In other words, let's hurry up and make everything super bright and cheery and technicolor and forget what we just saw... This is a totally understandable move, but also one that risks forgetting the very hard-won wisdom gained, I think. It allows us to forget too easily, or to oversimplify our understanding of how the world works.

Does that make sense?

Good luck in your cogitations. :)

Reya Mellicker said...

Karen I always welcome your thoughts and insights, whenever they are offered. Thank you!

I think what happened after the war was complicated. YES what you said, yes yes. That's a survival reaction, to make everything cheerful and perfect. The denial set the stage for what happened next, so was it a rejection of wisdom? I'm thinking about that. xx