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Not a good feeling

November 29, 2020

If you are one of the 2.5 people who follow and read this blog, you probably have a pretty good idea of my political beliefs. I won’t belabor those in this post. I don’t really care, for the purposes of this post, what your political beliefs are, truly I do not. On the other hand, I care a great deal about a potential side-effect of a possible, final election outcome. I’ll try to be clear.

If you think an armed response by Americans toward those with whom you differ is a good idea, you are an idiot. Likewise, if you think, should your “side” enjoy a political win as a result of the recent election, that it’s a good idea to force “those other people to shut up and accept the new reality,” you too are an idiot. Not only are both of those the views of idiots, they are also the views of ass****.

Regardless of who is inaugurated in January, there is a better-than-even chance that about half the country (or at least about half of the voters) will view that person’s win as illegitimate and having been accomplished by more than a little political chicanery. So, if your side wins, attempting to cram your ideas and policies down the throats of those on the other side is a recipe for disaster. It is a virtual guarantee that such an attempt will result in widespread violence. So, if your side and your guy wins, ask yourself, seriously and with a great deal of careful thought, how many of your fellow Americans you are willing to see die so you can have your way. If you response is “Oh, but we wouldn’t do anything like that. Only ‘those people’ over there would do such a thing,” please see my comments about about idiots and ass****.

If, on the other hand, your side loses and you decide violence directed at your political opposites is just the thing, you too should see the above referenced comments.

Here’s my concern (you know, just in case it’s not clear). Whichever side is the ultimate winner, if those on the other side become well and truly convinced the election has been stolen (regardless of whether that’s the case or not), to the detriment of the Republic and to freedom, and that the ones who benefit from the theft don’t care that they’ve been “caught,” violence is the likely outcome.

You can laugh it off. You can smirk. You can deny the likelihood. You can also be a fool.

I just don’t see how this can end well.

***

It was thoughts like that which lead to me writing what follows. Note, please, that I wrote it in about ten minutes and it reads like I spent that much time on it. Still, I think it reflects my concerns pretty well, as well as what I see as the likely nature of the sort of conflict we could be facing…and which I sincerely and desperately hope never occurs.

Kyle Jenkins sat on a ridge overlooking a house in Ether, North Carolina. Except for some time spent in college, and a brief stint in the military, he had lived his most of his life in that same small town, though not in the house he watched through binoculars as the sun sank low into the sky. Just a little east of the Uwharrie National Forest, Ether, along with the rest of Montgomery County, sat in the ancient mountain range from which the nearby National Forest took its name. For Kyle, though he had traveled with the Army and seen not only the Rockies, but the towering peaks of Europe, whenever he thought of mountains, he thought of the Uwharries and home. To him, they were mountains, even if Wayne, his friend from Colorado, had called them “hills.”


After the military, Kyle had come back here to live and raise a family. He had planned to put the drinking and partying of his abortive college career, and all the things he had done in the service of his country, behind him. Ether was calm, quiet and peaceful. So was Kyle, though the peace he had sought was a long time coming. His wife had not been able to wait the many long years it took for him to quiet his demons. She had left shortly after their one child, Robert, was born. That had been the hardest thing Kyle had ever faced. He had cheated death in more than one alcohol-related automobile wreck and more times than he cared to remember while fighting his country’s enemies, but even combat wounds paled in comparison to not being able to see his son. Time, he discovered, doesn’t heal all wounds as much as it makes them sort of numb and distant. Over the last several years, though, he and his son had started talking more. They had even gone fishing together a few times. He had been hopeful that would continue. Of course, that had been before everything fell apart.
The election had been contentious. That was to be expected. Presidential elections in the United States had a long history of being that way. With the advent of political parties, the most recent election had just been an inevitable result of what Washington had warned about. Washington, sadly, was still dead and there didn’t seem to be any figure, political or otherwise, who was widely trusted enough to lead the country out of the bloody mess it now faced.


He briefly stopped his reminiscing to look at the sun. It was even lower now, winding down a warm, spring day. He took a moment to look at the trees and landscape he loved. The air smelled fresh and clean. Crickets were making their noises. It was good to be home.


Kyle had entered both college and the military with some strong political views; views he was very willing to share. It was college and the U.S. Army, though, which had introduced him to people who did not always agree with him or his views. Over time, especially while in the military, he had come to realize that political views were not the totality of another person. What mattered much more was a person’s character and reliability. He had discovered friends whose views differed dramatically with his…and they’d had his back, just as he’d had theirs. They were, he realized, Americans and his brothers-in-arms and ultimately, that was all that had mattered. Unfortunately, not everyone with an interest in politics had Kyle’s experiences. The nation he had served was filled, it seemed, with partisans and ideologues.


When the first post-election riots kicked off, seemingly spontaneously though in widely separated areas, many people had quickly chosen sides. Kyle had warned his friends and family of all political stripes that there would be no “civil war” with massed troops fighting off the government or even each other. “It’s gonna be kill squads, some local and some connected with others, going around and murdering whoever they hate.” He had been proven correct. Even his rural North Carolina county had been hit. People were on edge. You never knew, even in the most pedestrian of interactions, if you were being assessed as to how you supported or opposed “the cause.”
Another look at the sun. It was almost completely below the horizon. That was good. Kyle had a Crock Pot of stew cooking at home. It would be good to eat a relaxing meal, soon.


It had been people’s inability to accept differing views of the current cause that had lead to the death of his son. Kyle had worked hard to keep himself out of the rapidly expanding conflict, though he had been pretty sure his efforts were hopeless. He had seen how things worked once tensions and differences reached a certain point in more than one country. He hadn’t expected it to take Robert. As far as he could tell, his son had done everything he had suggested to avoid becoming a target. It was unexpected that someone had decided they would make Kyle see the dangers of neutrality by killing Robert.


Kyle had gotten the call just after opening the small garage where he worked. He hadn’t even thought to call his boss. Instead, he had locked back up and driven at breakneck speed to the hospital. He got there in time to see the staff rush his son from the ER to the Operating Room. A seemingly endless hour later, the surgeon had come to see him, his face set in that professional grave expression medical people reserved for bad news. Robert, he was told, had been so severely beaten, perhaps with a bat or pipe, that he simply could not be saved. Then, the surgeon had shown a hint of humanity

.
“It’s stupid. One group is always saying the other started it. It’s always the fault of ‘those people over there’ instead of ‘we need to stop this madness.’” The surgeon had shaken his head, now with real grief and anger on his face. “I’m so sorry, Mr. Jenkins. We would have saved him if we could.” Kyle had barely registered the words at the time, but now, they made sense. For the first time in 15 years he had crawled into a bottle of scotch, but it hadn’t worked. The numbness hadn’t come. Instead, he’d just wound up feeling weak, stupid and unspeakably sad. It was even worse than when his wife had left. Now, his son was truly gone. Two days later the anonymous letter had been taped to his door. It had been nothing if not brief.


“You have to take a side,” it read. Everyone knows you were in the Army. You can’t stay neutral. You need to serve your country, again.” There was no signature, just the symbol for the local group on the “right side.”
The doc was right. It doesn’t matter who started it. It’s just kids on a playground punching each other; blaming each other for starting it while the other kids gather ‘round and cheer ‘em on. Except now they’re doing it with guns and IEDs.


Kyle looked at the sun, again. It was below the horizon and finishing the last of its descent. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he looked once more down at the house where the local “good guys” made their headquarters. This is not what he had wanted, but it had been forced on him and he had made his decision. His days of neutrality were over. He missed his son so much. He missed the peace he had found. Sitting on that ridge, Kyle wept for his son, for his own pain and for his country. The supposed good guys, people with whom he politically agreed in many ways, had killed his son because he would not use his skills in their cause. He slowly stood as The Rifleman’s Prayer came to mind, his lips unconsciously forming the words.

“Oh Lord, I would live my life in freedom, peace and happiness, enjoying the simple pleasures of hearth and home. I would die an old, old man in my own bed, preferably of sexual overexertion.
But if that is not to be, Lord, if monsters such as this should find their way to my little corner of the world on my watch, then help me to sweep those bastards from the ramparts, because doing that is good, and right, and just.
And if in this I should fall, let me be found atop a pile of brass, behind the wall I made of their corpses.”


The people in the house below were monsters, regardless of their politics. It was in the name of their politics that they had brought their battle, quite literally, to Kyle’s doorstep. Picking up his rifle, Kyle crept down the incline as he prepared to bring war upon his countrymen. Not for politics, nor for country, but for family. Time to do a little sweeping.

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One Comment
  1. Old NFO permalink

    Can’t disagree with anything you wrote. And that’s a nice little piece of fiction, and I hope it stays fiction… I hope…

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