Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Vonnegut on the state of the nation

Indiana has a tradition of fiction writers. Some of what gets written is depressing stuff on depressing topics. The name of Theodore Dreiser comes to mind. So does the name of Kurt Vonnegut. His tale of surviving the fire bombing of Dresden during World War II is as anti-war as any novel of the last 50 years.

Vonnegut is now 82. He has lasted longer than your typical Hoosier author. So I guess that he's earned the right of speaking plainly...and to foresake fiction for non-fiction. Vonnegut published an essay at in these times recently. It's a megadose of life in these United States--very depressing.

A few quotations:

Dr. Vonnegut [ED: Kurt's son] said this to his doddering old dad: “Father, we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.” So I pass that on to you. Write it down, and put it in your computer, so you can forget it....
For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.
“Blessed are the merciful” in a courtroom? “Blessed are the peacemakers” in the Pentagon? Give me a break....
Can I tell you the truth? I mean this isn’t like TV news, is it?
Here’s what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey.
And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we’re hooked on.