When I don’t have to pick the kids up after work, I like to ride my bike the long way home. A handful of extra miles around Alki point that are especially nice this time of year. Today I looked up at just the right moment and caught the USS John C. Stennis making her way on past our shores. Wish I had my camera with me, instead of the phone. You’ll be needing to click it:
Naturally, I point you to what I wrote the last time I managed to catch her cruising through West Seattle waters, July of 2009:
There is sunlight early in these upper latitudes. It had to be early today in order to catch the USS John C. Stennis moving through the Sound to port in Bremerton. I was early, too, with a confused child in tow, taking us both to the rare and wonderful sight that is an aircraft carrier lined with sailors on its way through these coastal waters. We were a bit far from it to make out many details (I doubt the little one knew why I had her out there so early), but it was a stalwart and worthy vision just the same.
About a mile from where I stood to watch her glide so carefully and proudly through the sound, is an intersection of roads, all four corners of which are regularly populated with citizens loudly protesting America’s activities across the world. Signs, pamphlets, and sheepish, vacant glares – even some epithets scribbled groundward in sidewalk chalk, as if to invoke the children in this sordid orgy – saying that we love some unnamed American vision which you have just returned from destroying. Your criminal odyssey pauses here, sailors, in this vapid, desiccated womb where the conflicting messages of “we support our troops,” and “we curse their actions” are somehow allowed to stand side by side without rebuke. Welcome home, sailors, and don’t be discouraged. I promise someone here loves you.
This city is rotten from the inside, at its heart, where the real disease takes hold. Like there’s a wellspring – but not for water – for hungry boll weevils, and our common sense is cotton to them.
The rot takes hold early where the lessons of the fathers should be: The left lane is for passing. Protect your women. Keep not too many things, but of the things you do keep, keep them clean and well-maintained. When you make things, make them well and careful. Be respectful and courteous, even if it goes unnoticed – but never if it goes unappreciated. This America is yours – work for it.
Where those lessons are bereft, smaller lessons move in and have all the heft of dry rot on a swatch of lace, having been eaten through by the weevils: The road is yours to do with as you please. To protect your women is to presume superiority, so leave them take care of themselves. Keep many flimsy and shoddy things, and waste no energy in keeping them kept. Make things if you must, but do it quickly and leave your heart out of it. There is no one more important than you – insist that all others appreciate that. This America is someone else’s, and that person is long dead – work against it.
Destruction is not advancement. To rebuild can be a setback. Let us not confuse the definitions of “progressive” and “bellicose” as we try to make right in this place. Most of all, let us be careful to not wake every morning under the assumption that there is some right necessarily to be made. The sun is up and the day is long – we would be wise to do little more thinking than that.