History Made, Or Not Known

Back in my college days I had an interest in Buddhism. I carried around a little book that basically said a clear mind enables a happy and productive life.

I thought Buddhists were supposed to be peaceful. But then comes Burma, now known as Myanmar, where 7,000 Rohingya Muslims have been murdered, untold numbers raped, and 600,000 driven from their burned villages. A few dozen radicalized Rohingya attacked some police outposts and that led to the government declaring all Rohingya as illegal residents of Burma.

So far, those 600,000 refugees have crossed into a welcoming Bangladesh for asylum. The leader of Bangladesh declares them welcome as she remembers her own people’s war of secession from East Pakistan in which two to three million rebels were killed by the Pakistani government. What is compassion? Bangladesh is a flood prone country the size of Iowa with a population of 198 million people.

I was an art student in college and the architecture of Barcelona fascinated me. The architect responsible was Antoni Gaudi. He designed buildings by hanging strings and sketching them, then turning the sketches upside down. Barcelona is part of Catalonia, a region of Spain that has declared independence from Spain. As I write this, Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy has dissolved the Catalan parliament.

To put this in perspective, I just read a story about a man whose grandfather made a business of interviewing Civil War veterans back in the 1930s, both from the North and the South. The one thing that struck him as he related those interviews to his grandson was that not a single veteran, on either side, thought of the war as about slavery, only preservation of the Union. By the way, don’t assume I am pro slavery. That is why I oppose a progressive income tax.

An interesting bit of history that I’ve become reacquainted with is the Carnation Revolution of Portugal. On April 25, 1974 a military coup with popular support took over the government of Portugal. Portugal had three colonies in Africa at the time and guerrillas in each were fighting for independence. It was taking a toll on budgets and military men who saw a world changing around them. Imperialism was on the wane. Why fight for a government and its cronies so they, and only they, can reap the benefits of imperial hegemony? The military leaders who returned to Portugal to challenge their government urged the citizenry to stay off the streets in order to avoid casualties. But thousands joined the soldiers and few shots were fired. The soldiers placed carnations in their rifle barrels, and after a tumultuous rebuilding, Portugal became a country focused on freedom.

Today (as I write this) is the day that Donald Trump, amazingly, changed his mind citing national security. He was the only one with the power to expose all the facts behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The CIA and the FBI got to him. If ever there was an admission of guilt, government agencies’ desire to keep 50 year old information secret is it.

National security? Ha!

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