On a friend's blog today he commented in passing he believed his own country was "less militaristic" than the USA.
His use of that word set off bells in my head, reminding me once again of the "gap" between what most Americans think of themselves versus what some think are the generally accepted opinions of the "rest of the civilized world".
After losing a half hour or so looking up various references I decided to post on the issue here, rather than use up his own "space" with a lengthy response.
(Besides, it gives me a chance to use my recently installed "Performancing" extension on Firefox).
At times we use words rather carelessly, I think. I hope I would never say his country was "more passive" than mine, although it is. (When I think of passive from my own perspective I think of a herd of cow's lined up in the dairy barn, contentedly eating their feed and all being hooked up to milking machines - being milked. The "ladies" are actually anxious to enter their stalls and co-operatively commence a "disgorgement" process of their swollen udders. This is not a flattering view of what some think to be a dynamic country. So I'll never say it).
Back to "militaristic". Okay, it was a fair comment. He didn't say we were, just that we were more than his own folk.
As an American I don't think in "militaristic" terms. I don't think in terms of relying on our military to enforce my country's POV on the national stage. I would much rather talk than fight. And if the other guy will just talk reasonably, I am content to keep talking for quite a spell. Years. Decades. Centuries, if some progress is apparent.
But as a westerner in the USA I may be more sensitive than some to the odor of cow dung. And when what the other guy is saying begins to smell like last week's pasture-droppings, I don't have a lot of patience for him to realize the conversational phase of our interactive time is drawing to a close - that his future may not be as rosy as his past.
Winston Churchill's dictum, "Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it" is never more apparent than today when millions of well-meaning folk keep "hoping" there has to be some other way than conflict to deal with radical Islam and avoid bloodshed.
Barry Goldwater - IMO the best president there never was - put it best, I think, when he said, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue". When I look at the tentiveness with which many of the other western democracies approach some of the current international issues I shake my head in despair. Where is their pursuit of justice? How can they possibly expect a corrupted institution like the UN to function in a reasonably acceptable way? Or is their sense of human justice tainted in some way by their national interests - or just plain passiveness? But forget I asked the latter, please.
There is definately a "gap". We all need to "mind" it very carefully. When it grows larger, the reaction to it can become much too violent. But the recent assignment of some of our northern neighbor's own military to service in Afghanistan helps draw that gap closer. IMO that is a good thing. God speed, "Canucks". I pray for the safety of your young military men and women, too.