Take a Deep Breath…Hold….. Breathe out.

This blog is primarily about Dry Stone Walling in the Welsh hills and other happenings in the life of Welshwaller.  Now and then events in the greater ‘wide-world’ impinge on my rural idyll, now and then the consequences of a wider happening ripples right up to my sloping doorstep.  A remote hillside is no guarantee of safety or oblivion.

For a number of reasons I have to join in that world-wide debate this week, major happenings which undoubtedly will ultimately affect me, have rolled out over the other side of the Atlantic.  How ironic that two possible earth shattering events should also coincide with the arrival of my Carolinian little helper for a short autumn stay in her adopted retreat.  Retreat she might, the land of her birth has certainly taken some stress of late.

First came Sandy, that monster of the deep that emerged from the warm waters of the tropics and grew and grew and grew until it covered an area the size of western Europe.  A storm so astounding that no-one yet has made any comment on what it indicates for the future of this increasingly fragile planet that we continue to dismantle around us.  Sandy smashed into the eastern seaboard of the United States at a time when that land was the stage for an event that has colossal consequences for everyone else on this sick and ailing planet.  Yet no mention seemed to be forthcoming from either of the main players or their supporting casts on the message that was in the bottle carried ashore by Sandy.  Strange ? Very.  Worrying? Immensely, for not until that great industrial society of 300 million polluters  wakes up to their necessary and lead role in attempting to enact the foolhardy Canutian attempt at holding back the likes of Madam Sandy (I assume it was a she due to the fact Grease is such an important part of U.S. culture, oh yes, and it was a real bitch !) will there be the slightest chance of Earth Volume 6 – assuming 5 previous mass extinctions.

I am in no way sufficiently informed of the policies of Democrat or Republican presidential candidates.  The system of elections, the confusion to me of the various Houses of government, the State legislatures and the role of Governors, Congressmen and women, Senators and, yes, even Presidents, have not been given the attention I should have given them.  I may well understand more than most U.K. citizens by virtue of my contacts and visits, not least at the time of the Republican campaign to decide who their candidate for President would be.  At the same time I am probably equally as ignorant of how the modern Russia, the less modern China, the mess that seems to be India, the House of the Rising Sun, Austral Asia and dozens of other nations whose stability and prosperity ultimately calms or rocks my world, are run.  The United States of course is different from all the other nations.  It is instrumental in the future stability of world economies and nations.  It alone could change significantly the rate of climate change – if only it would start believing in it – and it alone could solve the problem of famine and poverty in the third world if, as I once heard ex-President Bill Clinton propose, instead of spending trillions of dollars on military domination, it ploughed that money into aid.  That ain’t going to happen of course, the influence of multi-billion dollar companies, of the super-rich who rule them and decide who gets to occupy the various seats and positions of government, will never allow it.

Do these people really think we don’t understand how corrupt our systems are ?  Have they become so irrational that they really believe in their own propaganda ?  That we, the people, believe any longer that we live in the best system on earth ?  Do they really believe that western Democracy, that Capitalism even, is the only social order that works, that it guarantees the right of the individual to live in freedom, safety and prosperity ?  Of course they don’t, we are the ones fooling ourselves.

So the second great event, the second cataclysmic storm to potentially wreak havoc ‘over there’ loomed large just behind Sandy, indeed for a while she forced them to duck for cover, and ultimately rolled forth this last week.  Make no mistake, even me, a lowly waller hiding in the hills of Wales, held my breath, maybe even said a little prayer, worried and wondered.  Not helped by having an equally nervous American alongside on the very day the decision was being made.  For even with my little understanding or knowledge of what each candidate actually stood for it was very clear that Romney was a threat to me.  The totally idiotic nature of his rhetoric, the insane suggestions that emanated from the Republican camp, not only on world affairs but also on domestic issues (is 21st Century America seriously debating whether or not abortion should be available to women ?  That in the event of conception by rape the woman’s body ‘knows’ and merely dumps the fertilised egg !?) where neither climate change nor the existence of millions of poor desolate Americans  seemed to be even noted, was astounding.  Sense and sensibility, in so far as it existed anywhere in that obscene multi-media election campaign (how many people would the millions of dollars spent by each candidate on nuisance calls and ads have fed and sheltered !?), came from one camp only.  The world should have been holding its breath, I certainly was, my little lady from Carolina (the southern Republican part) certainly was, it seemed it might actually go the way of the crazies.  Sense prevailed, and by a greater margin than that anticipated, thus legitimising the Office more-so than would have otherwise been the case.

We can all breathe out now, breathe normally for a while maybe, but lets not sit around pretending all is well.  We in Britain have our own political morass to deal with, we have our own lunatics running our asylum.  We have our own battle to save the poor and disaffected from the likes of the same rich corrupt echelons as our cousins over the water.  We should not pretend what goes on in America is just a comic soap-opera, we should not let ignorance and prejudice shut our minds to how their house is kept in order.  The strength of the American economy and the dollar that greases its path affects each and every doorstep in this land, yes, even mine.  The emissions that pour forth from that huge population is impinging directly on us all, have you seen the cost of wheat and vegetables as a result of this past summer of rain ?  I have lost a large portion of my income because of the recent weather and I am under no illusions about where climate change is being fuelled.  America is as much a part of our lives as is China and its super-emissions, as India and its super-population and the Middle East and the Arab Spring.  The difference is that America is still a rich industrial nation with the power to influence how the rest of the world behaves, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, ’til death do us part.  We are wedded to it and as such the re-election of  Obama should allow all of us on this side of the Atlantic to sigh in relief, to pause and take stock, to say thanks to those storm battered folk for allowing sense to prevail.

We are at the point of the year where the heroic Glorious Dead of terrible world-wide conflict and lesser stupid wars are honoured and remembered.  This year the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh month occurs on Remembrance Sunday.  Throughout the land in small towns and villages, wreaths of poppies will be placed against stone crosses and small Cenotaphs which bear the names of those of that community who went forth and did not return.  We continue to add names to such memorials, the consequence of the ineptitude of those we choose to lead us and the belief in our own righteous path in the world.  For two minutes at 11 o’clock on Sunday morning breathe in and hold your breath, think of the fallen and those about to fall but think too of Sandy and Obama and the connection between the storm, the man and the poppy.  Breathe out and determine to do your bit.

Remembrance

In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row

That mark our place and in the sky

The Larks,  still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead,

Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved

And now we lie

In Flanders’ Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch: be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep,

Though Poppies grow

In Flander’s fields.

Col. John Macrae.  Composed 1915, 2nd battle of Ypres. Killed Jan 1918.

The Victory Emblem

Oh !   You who sleep in Flanders’ fields,

Sleep sweet – to rise anew;

We caught the torch you threw

And holding it high

We kept the faith with those who died.

We cherish too, the Poppy red

That grows on fields where valor led,

It seems to signal to the skies

That blood of heroes never dies

But lends a lustre to the red

Of the flower that blooms above the dead

In Flanders’ fields.

And now the torch and Poppy red

Wear in honor of our dead

Fear not that ye have died for naught:

We’ve learned the lesson that ye taught

In Flanders’ fields.

Oh that those words had come true Miss Moina Michael (who penned the response in 1918 in the U.S.A.) how different might this troubled old world have been just now.

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