America, What Are You Thinking?

by James Glaser
September 20, 2002

Last week I said that Friday's columns would be a let up on the political topics and I would write about America, small-towns and rural areas, because that is where I live. I envisioned a column with what I think of as humor, something on the lighter side that would give my mind a break from the swill coming out of Washington.

Well I visited Northome, Blackduck, and Bemidji this week looking for some twist in my life that I thought would be of interest to you. Nothing hit me except all the people that were so very interested in foreign policy. People coming up to me and saying, "Hey Jim, think we will blow off the UN and hit Saddam?" "Jim, do you think the VFW would buy Blue Star Banners for the parents of service men and women?" "Mr. Glaser (they always say Mr.Glaser if they are going to disagree with me big time) wasn't that just the best speech by Bush?"

I would hear people in the hardware store talking about Saddam like he lived forty miles north. We are not at war in Iraq right now, but we may as well be as far as this weeks discussions go. I did find one section of the community that gives things a little more thoughtful contemplation and those are older women that have had children in one of our past wars.

Mothers suffer all through a conflict if their child or a close relative is in the war. One woman told me how she had worried herself sick for over a year while her son was in Vietnam and now she didn't know if she could handle a grandchild going to another war. One lady asked why we couldn't finish one war before we start on another.

We have been having just great weather, no frost yet and people are now having a great tomato year in their gardens. The temperature is in the seventies, with sunshine, the start of a really fine fall and the best of high school football watching weather. But there is something in the air. People are uncertain about the future. Some people are scared, not only about war, but the economy, and their health care. There are always those that bitch no matter what, but this worry is more universal.

So many people in our small communities had looked forward to government help after the last election. Everyone running for anything was talking about prescription drug costs, health insurance costs, and Social Security. People in this neck of the woods actually thought something would be done about each of these. Nothing has happened and they see streams of people heading to Canada to buy their Medicine.

Young people are still up and excited about everything and that is fun to see. We have great kids, a fine local school, and there is real community pride and interest in what our younger generation is doing. Here, kids talk to adults, and both groups joke back and forth. Small towns are that way and if one person suffers everyone feels their pain. That is why people up here are so attuned to what is happening to America, they care.

Every morning in the coffee shop, groups of people sit and talk about whatever. The men sit with the men and the women with the women. Farmers at one table and loggers at another. I noticed this year more and more of these groups are starting to think in a more fiscally conservative way. Some are going to cut back on the amount of cattle they have or maybe they won't buy that new skidder. Some are talking about getting out while the land prices are still high. That spark of a few years ago is gone. People are not optimistic and worry is on the land.

Two years ago they built a Industrial Park in Northome and every one was talking about economic development. Positive thoughts for the future were every where and now there is almost a feeling of sadness.

September 11th was one reason, local boys in the service being sent all over the globe is another. A local boy is anyone living within a 75 mile radius. If they played Northome in football or basketball, they are local. A retired history teacher told me that she thinks she feels just like Roman mothers felt when their sons went to Gaul.

Everyone from the VFW and American Legion (which is a fair slice of the community) knows that war is not in any way productive and those that served in past wars have a real fear for what will happen to those that serve in this one. Generals and Presidents can win a war, those that serve in the ranks know that everyone else on both sides lose.

I wanted this to be a kind of a fun column, but this isn't a fun time for America. The President and his Administration are hell bent for a war with Saddam and will do everything they can to keep that on the front page of every news paper and news program. Little do they know in Washington what that is doing to our country.

Iraq is such a little country, Osama bin Laden has such a small Army, but the two of them Osama and Saddam are really hurting America. Not by anything that they are doing, but by what George Bush is doing to the mood of this country. George Bush is not a uplifting person, no George needs doom and gloom to push his position.

Americans want a safe world. Americans want a positive future for themselves, but more importantly for their children and they are coming to realize at least up here that, George Bush has nothing to offer than WAR.

So this week the Friday column is kind of sad. Thinking of America going to another war with several going on now, is sad too.

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