The Tumble

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May 5, 2022- Hiking Buddy and I observed Cinco de Mayo by dining at Prescott’s sole Indian restaurant: Tai Mahal. The place has a good-sized dining room and a fair amount of South Asian decor. Its dishes trend towards North Indian, which is fine, as I favour dishes like tandoori and tikka masala. I also like vindaloo, from the west central city of Goa, so maybe next time…. We were among the first diners this evening, and for a while, it looked like the stampede to Mexican eateries, on this unofficial north of the border “holiday”, would impact Taj’s evening. Not so, though, as by the time we were ready to leave, the dining room was packed. Such is the allure of a quality establishment with a menu that is one-of-a-kind for the area.

Cinco de Mayo is a distant mirror of Ukraine’s struggle against a much larger foe. On May 5, 1862, the Mexican Army defeated the French Imperial Army, at Puebla. After some months, the French reoccupied Puebla and went on to occupy Ciudad Mexico. This only lasted three years, however, as once the American Civil War ended, President Andrew Johnson sent materiel aid to Mexico, and the resurgent Mexicans drove the French out. The French puppet Emperor, an Austrian named Maximilian, and his Mexican turncoat supporters, were captured and executed. We have no way of knowing how the present conflict will end, but esprit de corps goes a very long way towards building momentum. The mighty can tumble, as the United States itself has found.

After any tumble, however, comes humility and rebuilding. We’ve seen that with the spikes and crashes in the financial markets, in recent days. It’s the nature of wealth, however, to rebound and grow again-and if no artificial blocks come about, more people are brought into the aura of prosperity.

The same is true of peace. It will come back and be rebuilt, very likely on a more solid footing. All falls are stopped by a solid barrier, at some point.

The Ephemeral Gains

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May 31, 2021- Someone, writing about Memorial Day, recounted the most significant things about his time in the Armed Forces, especially with regard to Iraq. His love of the pomp and circumstance, esprit de corps and the camaraderie that he found in each of his units was reflected throughout the essay. One statement he posits, however, is particularly curious- “It’s the unbreakable bond that only war can provide.”

War certainly does form unbreakable bonds. It can also form unbreakable barriers. It is also not the only means to build such bonds. Any number of shared struggles can do the same, and not all are calamitous in nature. Any gains made by a fight to the death are, in fact, ephemeral.

Some will argue that the current territorial condition of the United States was made possible primarily by warfare. That, in its initial increments, is largely true. However, the initial victors have had to either fight a series of subsequent conflicts, either as declared wars or as acts of political chicanery. This has been true of every conflict faced by the United States, with the possible exception of World War II-and even it did not address the totalitarian threat posed by Communism-or the lingering residue of state-sponsored racism and anti-Semitism.

Building societies and social bridges can certainly construct unbreakable bonds along with them. It just takes a whole lot more enlightenment than we’ve seen in the past.