Look down at any city at night and the lights you see can be viewed as only sad glitter.
But look with open eyes and heart and any city – even the worst place in the world, is lit by more than electricity, more than fire.
That is because from high above we forget the lights are more than just that. Those lights are exultant. They are a shining – a proof of life.
In New Mexico, not so long ago, a small town was known for its’ light. Shining in the darkness of a massive desert, the town was more of an outpost – a place where villagers were struggling to survive. A battle was fought there once. But it was an affirmation of life, more than it was a sign of God’s will. Still, with the unknown darkness against them always, the people of the village chose to erect a cross on a lonely hill where the battle was fought and won. It was a monument to victory… but as with most victories, it is mostly lost to time. I know it from half-remembered stories, told to me in passing. The only thing I’m sure of is the real monument – the true monument: It was the village which is still alive after all this time. It is a community of souls. The village name is “The Light.”
I often think that what we see is not enough. Our understanding seems lost within bodies aging. Our reasoning seems increasingly clouded, when you would think it would sharpen with experience and knowledge - certainly, the breeding ground of wisdom.
But so many days we spend railing against the imagined forces of darkness. And of course, that is also because of experience, because we know the darkness can be real. We know that monsters prowl the half-light thrown at the fringe of shadow. We’re sure of it, because it is true. I have flown in military helicopters over terrain most of you couldn’t imagine, until it all seemed like a patchwork quilt below me, blurring one shape into another. Killers and victims were down there somewhere, but my ground-pounder eyesight wasn't as acute at altitude. I have flown in an AT-38 Talon beside an F-117A Stealth Fighter – somewhere in the deep background a landscape of brown becoming white-capped mountain peaks; all of it so familiar – and yet so different. The tiny lights I would see approaching innumerable airfields when I was younger, were jets just like those – representative, perhaps of the soaring souls on board. But you can’t see that from the balcony of a barracks building. And from a fast-flying military aircraft, often you can't see the life and death below you.
I recently made a list. I suppose many would see it as an affirmation of their fears: a country in decline or perhaps at the cusp of a new beginning. Once again, it depends how you view things. I would like to list those things here. But please read beyond them, and understand maybe more than you did when you started reading this article.
Here is our government’s actions in recent times:
They have been unwilling to deal with illegals and Mexican Drug cartels
A string of broken promises have stacked one upon the other – some which fly in the face of principles set forth when our country was founded.
We have a government which forces through bills – but those bills are really edicts forced upon a population in the dead of night.
Our country is taking up socialized programs which cannot be supported in the current economy – or perhaps any economy. The same programs have, of course, failed wherever and whenever they have been tried in history.
The same government is also outlaying funds for ridiculous programs, further increasing the national debt in some kind of insane spree – like a teenager burning their way through a wallet filled with dad’s credit cards.
The administration of our country refuses to expand drilling for fuel by companies here in the U.S., citing environmental concerns, but then play golf, vacation and take long breaks during the worst environmental catastrophe seen since Chernobyl - by mismanaging and ignoring the Gulf oil spill.
In the same timeframe all this is happening, they continue to look at cap-and-trade – a concept, which will simply kick an economy, which is already down. And dying.
Meanwhile, their claim to glory, besides a ridiculous health care package rivaling the complexities and mysteries already seen in an overgrown tax code, is a push for “Green” anything - in any way it can be even loosely achieved. And while climate research has been shown to be at worse, a conspiracy – and at best, bad science, the same administration continues to beat the drum as fewer and fewer people listen.
Lastly, there’s a mismanagement of an ongoing war. Generals are not supported, then removed when they question why they are not receiving the personnel and materials they need. Troops are shuffled like a deck of cards, and in a ridiculous contradiction, the government seeks to go soft on terrorists and admitted enemies of the country – yet in the same breath, level charges against our most elite commandos for something they didn’t do in the first place, but something they should be free to do more of – assaulting the monsters in the night.
And of course, when making a list such as this, you can’t leave out the details: like the disrespect shown to our greatest allies, the embracing of rogue groups and states – as if they were our friends, and lastly, the marginalizing, demonizing and disregard for the regular people of the country.
It would seem, at first glance, that America is dying.
But, I would encourage you to take a different point of view for a moment. The inaction of the federal government in matters of state sovereignty has created a huge divide, which cannot be bridged by federal force. The tighter the hand squeezes, the more water escapes the grip. The harder the darkness presses against the light – the brighter those lights become.
And we have shone so very brightly indeed. In an environment of racial tension once again, our countrymen today would do well to remember that the founding of America itself occurred through the efforts of women and men of all nationalities and creeds alike, fighting side-by-side against a common oppressor. We exist because the lights of their lives were extinguished in exchange for our own. Small flames don’t die; they create newer, larger ones. And so our country was born, itself.
And edicts may be nailed to every post on every corner, broadcast through the very air itself – but none will last out the week. Torn, tattered, blown, fading out into space itself – all such unpopular mandates join the great political landfill, always just out of sight; perhaps hidden by great actions of legendary people. The junk-pile of unjust law is occluded, because the shadows cast by the legendary are long; and their accomplishments so great that even the failed and disgraced in the world recede into background noise and clutter.
Socialized debtor programs can’t support themselves. Collapse and equalization is inevitable; recovery and rebirth are always around the corner, and they are always glorious. Look at the Great Depression, followed by the most terrible war the world may have ever seen – all of it, suffering and death and horror on a scale seemingly unimaginable. Still, the result was a great expansion of society, technology, education and enlightenment, even. We reached for the lights in the night sky… and we got there.
Trade scams and snake-oil salesmen are nothing new either. They have taken on the form of complex government schemes, but they are still visible for what they are. They fill a void, of course. They provide the uninformed and the ignorant and the somnambulant with something to grasp at. But, they reach for shadows – and the darkness always follows shadows. I think even these folks know that, deep down. Education and hard lessons provide the cure for this. In an age of information, the uninformed grow fewer in number. The lights in this case are the glow of millions of networked computer screens and televisions. And information cannot be controlled. It can be parsed, and it can be twisted and shaped. But those tricks are also part of the information stream. Those who wish to see, will in fact see.
Turning on friends is never a good thing. Children learn this early on. Yet our own government can’t seem to prevent itself from engaging in such activity – perhaps they are aged, or foolish, or careless. After some time, policies and actions like this become another collapse. Actions like these are the truly unsustainable things in life. When loss is constant, eventually either someone takes your place or you take another tack - one with the wind, instead of against it. To stand is sometimes the most difficult thing in the world.
And of course we come full circle in looking at things like this. Like the city lights and the patchwork countryside, and the mountain set against high-flying aircraft; and even like the town, which is named “The Light,” we are all part of a much larger picture. Our combined wills against that of a government grown oppressive, are like the ocean against a grain of sand. Governments come and go. People remain.
Look down at any city at night – and you may see only lights. But if you look with different eyes you see dreams and hopes and futures not yet born or even imagined.
We are made of light.