Monday, June 30, 2008

The View from 30,000 Feet

People don't even look like ants from six miles up. The land becomes a mass of geometric patterns; cities become crystalline growths. You can't even see individuals at all; a single person no longer matters.

The only other faces you see are those who are in the plane with you. Your inner circle looms larger than entire counties. It's no wonder that cronyism becomes the watchword from high above. Who else matters except the nearby few?

Pilots are used to privilege. They sometimes fancy themselves as "mavericks," like the character in Top Gun, but really, they're at the apex of a pyramid with the lower orders devoted to keeping them in the air, and they cannot stray far from the pyramid. Every pilot depends utterly upon the dozens of maintenance personnel who keep the plane from failing, the hundreds who built it, the thousands (and more) who have paid for it.

Can the country afford another 30,000 ft. President? I think not. John McCain may not have Bush's sadistic streak, nor his superstition and prejudices, but the sense of privilege is fully intact, an inevitable result of heritage and the flyboy mystique. Moreover, McCain has killed, directly, by dropping bombs on targets from high above, in a different war that was also instigated with lies. It would be termed murder if it ever went to trial, the sole defense being "I was following orders," and we know how that works.

It is part of American Exceptionalism that our country claims the right of aerial bombardment, to kill from on high, with only the phrase "collateral damage" serving to cover the deaths of women, children, or innocent men merely doing their jobs. "Strategic bombing" is entirely a doctrine of total war, the belief that war is inevitably genocidal, a duel to the death between two tribes of humans. There are no civilians in total war, only nits and gnats, and body counts, if you care to make them, which our country no longer cares to do.

But explosions do look beautiful from high enough. So do hurricanes and the damage done. Almost everything looks beautiful at a distance. It's only up close where the pain and suffering reside.