Hell No, We Won’t Go

It seems incongruous that this five-syllable rallying cry could bring the American military-industrial complex to its knees.

Yet,  that’s precisely what happened.

After the Tet Offensive in Jan. 1968, horrified Americans watched as General Westmoreland delivered the first body counts of the Vietnam War on the evening news. But President Johnson and the Joint Chiefs had miscalculated.

Americans weren’t prepared for a war of attrition.

Nor could they stomach images of young American men in body bags. It was simply too much to absorb. Johnson sacked Westmoreland, and a great wall, from Maine to California, separating the “hawks” and “doves,” became a reality.

Like most countries, America had its share of walls: haves and have-nots, young and old, black and white – but the Vietnam war wall between hawks and doves was different: CEOs joined ranks with the homeless and parents marched with their grandchildren. Even soldiers who’d served in Vietnam joined peace-action coalitions and spoke out about a war they felt was wholly unjust.

Today, nearly half-a-century later, the construction of a new wall gathers momentum as Social Security faces a financial challenge from the impending retirement of the largest generation in American history, the 76 million persons born in the “baby boom” years, from 1946 through 1964 who began to reach age 65 in 2011.

The real stink bomb, however, that we leave our children and our children’s children is not just a multi trillion-dollar debt and an empty entitlement benefit trust fund. The most onerous problem is a custodial care management system that’s been broke since its inception.

You know the one: caters to high net-worth Caucasians who are willing to spend the remainder of their lives sleeping, watching TV and playing Bingo. (Hey, I know. . . it’s not easy to find an alternative. That’s why I’ve lived in an assisted living community for the last sixteen years.)

So . . .what’s the answer?

You can start with a “Hell No . . .” to your children and family members. Just be prepared to soften the demand with a proposition. Or you can carrot and stick your kids with distributions from the estate.

Or find a Bill Thomas Green House, or one that’s red or blue – and fill it with individuals who, irrespective of age, still have ambition to explore and dreams to pursue.

Or just sit quietly and let the world unroll itself at your feet.

Your call.

Martin Bayne  Wikipedia

Martin is a freelance journalist and former Corporate CEO, MIT scholar, and Buddhist monk.