Dinner with the two little kids yesterday, and the talk took a detour to knee-jerk jingoism. (I was stunned that they'd remembered my casual comment from the previous weekend when we'd been driving down the Highway of Heroes.) Turns out that they didn't care at all about the way a nation can get hyped up about dead soldiers, but the words sounded funny put together like that. Anyway, we began the discussion with jingoism, and ended it when the derivation of knee-jerk led to a demonstration which resulted in spilled apple juice. Conversation returned to family foibles, the Simpsons, and y=mx+b ---- well-trodden pathways all.
Before I get a raft of hate email, let me quickly say that I am not a knee-jerk pacifist. I have no problem with Canada taking a role in world policing. The price of liberty is ceaseless vigilance may be bombastic (may even be misquoted) but there's truth there. Violence is a dumb way to solve things, but people are dumb, and if your army is bigger than the other guy's at least you get to be the bully instead of the victim.
But Highway of Heroes? I don't know. Among other objections, it makes me sound silly. (I should be home in a few minutes, honey -- I'm on the Highway of Heroes now. I'll return the video, pick up the dry cleaning, then jump back on the Highway of Heroes and be back by 6:00 -- unless they've closed a lane again. You know what the Highway of Heroes is like.) And I don't like the idea of glorifying professions. Individuals can be -- often are -- heroic. But I'm not comfy with that kind of blanket benediction. It's like saying artists are geniuses. Some are, but most of us are simply doing what we can. And I believe the army -- the peace-time army anyway -- is the same. It's not an adventure. It's a job.