Saturday, November 24, 2012

Inside the Two-Ton Bubble

 Once on my daily circuit around the airfield at Camp Adder, Iraq, I was in a sandstorm so strong that it stopped me on the bike.  Because I can “track stand” the bike, keep it upright when standing still, I held the bike in place for a minute then jumped off.

Curled up in a ball, back to the wind, I thought about what to do next.  I could turn around and fly back in the other direction, but I would eventually have to turn the north then back to the east, then get stopped again.  Just then, one of the special ops black Suburbans pulled up and told me to get in.  They said, “Dude, get inside.  This storm’s gonna last all day.”

I got inside and they drove me to battalion HQ. 

Today I was riding in a 20 mph wind with 30 mph gusts.  I was going up a shallow hill at 6 mph—way slower than normal, but straight into the wind that was the best I could do.  Many cars rolled past me on that mile-long stretch of PA Rt. 999.  I was thinking about how many times I heard about people “In the bubble” during the political season just passed.  Here I was, the perfect example of why people stay in a bubble—it sucks being outside!!!!

The people in the cars going past me were getting no exercise, they were missing a clear, cold, clear brilliant late Fall day.  Compared to keeping my bike upright and rolling uphill into a headwind, their lives were DULL.

Let’s assume, most of them wanted it that way.  After a while I did.  I turned back early and rolled to the bike shop to buy a better pair of cold weather gloves and hang out in the warm shop for a while.

For people who are in bubbles of belief, their avoidance of facts has an effect similar to being in a two-ton, two hundred horsepower car in a head wind.

Mr. Bubble, looking out through the windshield, can see everything the guy on the bike does, but Mr. Bubble does not experience the world as it is.  He is in a climate controlled, sound-deadened environment moving fast enough that he seldom sees the messy details of reality. 

One of the great things about serving in the Army is realizing—even in America—that individual freedom can only be preserved by people who give it up.  And that health and safety for many means that some must risk their lives. 

I am sitting in a comfortable, well-lit room, in a centrally heated house writing on my unbelievably powerful computer which is connected to the whole world through an incredibly reliable cable modem.  I love my bubble.  But I know it is a bubble which is more than I deserve and much more than 98% of the world will ever have.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Philosopher of War and Terror and Politics: Hannah Arendt

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