Hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, super malaria. This is today’s Google News feed. Proof that the end-days are upon us. Evidence that God, or the gods, are pissed. Yes, there are a million ways to die, and natural catastrophes seem to be trending right now.
For the past month, I’ve found reading the news to be exceptionally depressing. When people are flooded from their homes, it’s easy to put yourself in their shoes. I have a home. What if it was filled with five feet of water? I’m feeling their sodden pain. How can you recover when everything you own: house, car, furniture, clothes, personal keepsakes are all ruined in a flood?
Earthquakes. Your very foundation is shaken. Is anything surer than the ground beneath your feet? Not any more in Mexico City. I envision an epidemic of PTSD.
Asia, facing a likely volcanic eruption in Bali, people are fleeing their homes. Displaced into a world where mosquitoes are carrying drug-resistant malaria. Quick death or slow; that’s a difficult choice.
Perils at every turn. Strangely, these disasters are of secondary concern. The dotard in the White House is scaring the crap out of me.
How many of you are reading that word as doe-tard? Like re-tard or fuck-tard or any other tard? I did this for days. It’s an old word. I’m an old guy. I suddenly remembered hearing people use it when I was a child. The proper pronunciation is /dōdərd/ (doe-dird).
I’ve lived for more than five decades. Half a century. I don’t remember any foreign leaders mocking one another. Resorting to name calling like a couple of kids fighting on the playground. Rocket-man! Sheesh. I’ve started reading analyses by North Korea experts. The general consensus seems to be that Kim Jong-un won’t back down. He’s revered as a god in his country and gods can’t be seen as weak.
And we all know Donald Trump’s need to one-up every perceived insult or slight. A playground brawl is on its way. Trump and Jong-un will continue to antagonize one another until one of them does something really stupid. And then we’ll see what it looks like to have a nuclear war.
Last year, I was at a Veterans’ Day luncheon where a Korean War vet related a post-war story that took place in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. There was to be a pass off of information. An American officer was handing a binder of data to a North Korean officer. As the hand-off took place, the American pretended to lose grip of the binder and the North Korean instinctively lunged forward to catch it.
The photos of the exchange showed a composed American facing what appeared to be a submissive bowing North Korean. According to the veteran who told the story, that was a battle we won. In my opinion, an irrelevant battle, an unnecessary battle that, if anything, did yet more damage to our relationship. This was fifty years ago. After a half a century, we’re still trying to one-up each another with words and symbolic actions.
I have the sovereign right to launch yet another missile test.
I will totally destroy North Korea.
Trump will pay dearly for that UN speech.
And so on.
One of my favorite quotes is “You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist” (Indira Gandhi). The United States and North Korea have been trying to embarrass one another, to get the upper-hand in our relationship for my entire life. This strategy clearly hasn’t worked. Neither has name calling, idle and not-so-idle threats. Relations between the two countries are at a fifty year low. Experts are seriously concerned about a nuclear exchange.
It’s time for the U.S. and North Korea to rethink their strategies. The only way to peace is through communication and understanding. Not through intimidation and threats. It’s time for these two bombastic, immature leaders to shake hands and start to talk.