Nailing it Down:

As one of you pointed out to me in email, Doc Russia nails it. I spend a lot of time talking in reasoned tones to people, trying hard to be fair to both sides of arguments, when I often wonder why we're arguing at all. I think he's got why:

I will never forget the feeling of the cold air inside the hull of the aircraft flowing out past my feet, as the hot and humid air of Cuba swarmed into my face. It was January, and the warmth of the air was alien itself. I stepped out of that craft, and onto a different planet. It was the beginnning of a dark Odyssey, 357 days which would change me, my life, and the way I looked at the world forever.

Over the course of the following year, I was exposed to an alternate reality. Day after day, I stood watch on the fenceline, and peered into it. I stood at the edge of a communist regime, and I saw what it produced. It was real. It was reality. In this reality, the evil in man had triumphed. Years before I was born, a corrupt idea was propogated, descended on this isle, and took root. It deceived the willingly gullible, and the naive. It propelled the vicious to power. It has condemned those under it's authority. So much suffereing, so many lives consumed.

I lived for a time in the People's Republic of China, and I had the same experience as Doc except from the inside. I saw what it was like for decent people, who were trying to get along, laugh, and do right by their families. It was brutal in a way I've never managed to put into words, and all people could tell me was how much better things were than they'd been ten years since. I met North Koreans there, who could only show me how happy they were to enjoy this lesser, easier tyranny.

Aristotle wrote that you can't even discuss ethics with people who lack certain basic experiences. Like us, the Greeks learned by standing on the wall--or, in the phalanx, by being the wall for a while. That's what we still ask some young men to volunteer to do. It's what we volunteered to do, not understanding what it is we were agreeing to become.

Tomorrow, in the nations capitol, many "men of importance" will put on expensive suits over expensive shoes, and straighten their very fashionable ties. They will accuse, insinuate, and feign moral repulsion. They will elocute and posture before cameras and a national audience about what who knew, what who said, and what they think it means.

Tomorrow, west of Baghdad, young men in patterns designed by computers will not accuse or insinuate. They will not feign moral repulsion, and there will be no cameras around to record them. They will not elocute or posture.

They will tie their boots on tight, check their weapons, and carry on.

I sometimes wonder if you even can explain it. I carry on trying, because it's so important that people understand. There is a sense in so many Americans that the Republic is eternal and unbreakable. There is a sense that the world is safe, if we could just control a few criminals, the way that an American state or city can be safe, if you just police it a bit better. They see the darkness but not the depths. It's like peering into the night sky, which is so deep that it looks flat; and you can't feel just how far you could fall into it and not find another garden.

Go listen to the Doc. He says it better.

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