Sunday, July 15, 2007
Most of these folks have kids and are dealing with trials and travails that come with raising teen-agers. So that discussion tended to predominate the conversation. What their kids were doing, what they were not doing, how they were set to succeed or not. The same worry that parents have across the globe. To my credit, I generally stayed silent. Since I "opted out" when my daughter was 16 and my son 18, I really was not in a position to comment. Plus if they knew my real thoughts on the subject-I would probably not be invited back for another meal. Which would really disappoint the S.O. (Her continuing mental "contamination" by American women is the subject of a whole another post....).
One subject came up from one of the military folks. Speaking of history he had recently finished reading a book about the great Kanto Plain earthquake and the subsequent fire demolished a lot of Tokyo and Yokohama. He was bemoaning the fact that so many of the Americans knew so little of the history of the host country-and when he had tried to teach them some in "officer training" they seemed positively disinterested. While, in his view, so many Japanese knew their history "chapter and verse". As only a black shoe would-he bragged about how he was going to "smack some sense into them".
I had to force myself to keep my mouth shut. First of all, my observations of the average Japanese prove quite the opposite-many of them are quite lacking in any fundamental knowledge of the history beyond the immediate past 20 years. They know that Japan lost World War II-however few that I have come across have an in depth understanding of why-or what could have happened differently if things had taken a different path. I think if I were to compare my observations with those who actually have to live in Japanese society-not just those who live within a protected enclave that is an American military base, I think you would find more than a few people who would agree with me.
As for his anger with his own subordinates for resenting his attempts to "enlighten them" I had to keep myself from laughing out loud and calling him a fool. Can't he see? First-this "Officer training" is just another meeting that keeps them from doing any number of the pointless tasks they are required to perform. Second, and the Navy has only itself to blame for this, its not exactly accessing people with a burning desire to know its history. From the top down it has pooh pooh'ed a knowledge of history and tradition-so why be surprised when the folks who make up your ranks aren't interested in these things? They can tell you down to the penny how much is in their 401K though.
As for the perils of parenthood-I just could not work up an interest. Believe me I tried-but I kept finding my mind wandering to other things. And other places.
No body's fault per se-but just a stark fact. I marveled at how I have changed-not necessarily for the better. However my beliefs just aren't in sync with so many of theirs anymore. Maybe they know something I do not. Or maybe I have learned something they have not. Or maybe its a little bit of both. Who can really say? So long as everyone is happy I guess that is the main thing-but does anyone really know when they are happy? I wondered this the whole time-while resisting the urge to reach across the table and smack on particular smug son of a bitch who was spouting platitudes about "controlling the American Sailor". He would not need to be controlled you pig headed idiot-if maybe you guys would treat him like an adult and stop trying to control every aspect of his private life.
Out of respect and I hate to admit it, love for the S.O., I kept quiet. Nonetheless as I drifted off to sleep, I was troubled about how much my mind has shifted. There is a lot still to be sorted out me thinks.