They call them dog tags, and we who wear them understand the irony of the situation. Dog tags are worn by the defenders of the state, the soldiers who serve the people, but who take their orders and direction from a group of entitled elites who occupy the houses of the people, and conduct themselves not as the servants of the public, but as the lords on high.
That is fine. Democracy does not reward the tellers of truth, so the houses of the people are filled with those who seek power by any means necessary. Some few are crusaders for one cause or another, not all of those crusaders are in any way safe, sane, or helpful to the state, but at least they are not simply for sale as the rest of them are. The mix of the mercenary, visionary and fanatic float in a sea of institutionalized corruption where it is actually impossible to determine where the legitimate political process and press ends, and criminal behaviour begins. Oddly enough, some of the worst actions are legal, and some of the illegal ones ought to be praiseworthy. This is Democracy, it’s a shitty system whose only redeeming feature is it actually sucks slightly less hard then everything else we have tried.
Today in our fair north, our politicians are busy stealing from the dogs, we who bleed to defend the freedom of our people to reward those who screw all of us who risk our lives so that the many can be kept safe by a few their leaders continue to stab in the front, the back, the pocketbook, the home, and family; in between posing at the memorials for our dead and praising the deeds of those they screw with every stroke of the budget pen.
Today in our sunny south, our politicians cheer and pat themselves on the back as they strip health care from tens of millions of their citizens, make it possible to charge the elderly even more than before, defund planned parenthood, while at the same time allowing insurance companies to not cover women for pre-existing conditions ranging from rape to C-sections. Don’t worry, those who make more than a quarter million dollars per year (after all allowable deductions) will no longer bear the terrible burden of paying a few percent towards the cost of millions of their poorer citizens health care costs, so I guess that is worth cheering for right? Women, the elderly, the injured, sick, or unemployed should be thankful that the richest among us will no longer be burdened by their needs to stay alive.
Around the necks, to the north and the south hang the dog tags of those men and women who stand in the defense of their nations, offering their blood, sweat, and tears to the governments that increasingly seem utterly unburdened by the need to defend anything but their own agenda.
No one accuses the wearers of the dog tags of intelligence. When we speak of the dogs who share our homes, or the dog-tag wearing soldiers the kind speak with reverence, the privileged with amusement at the dogged loyalty of the uniformed defenders of their nations. Loyalty is not actually stupidity, although it would be stupidity indeed were we to expect a matching loyalty from our leadership, a matching commitment to our people from our elected leaders. Most of us are not actually stupid enough to do so, but it is not FOR the leaders we serve. We serve for the people.
You remember the people? Our legislators seldom do. We serve, some give up their lives, and most give up their health as we expend ourselves in the service of the land of our birth, because our people are actually worthy of that service.
In Canada, our leaders are busy punishing their loyal guardians for the twin crimes of being too loyal to rebel, and bound by law not to speak out. Sucks to be a soldier right now in the north, but we actually have it better. In the US, the soldiers get to sit back and watch their leadership condemn millions of the people they signed up to defend to death, so the same rich assholes who generally send the soldiers overseas to die to enforce an economic hegemony that benefits only those same rich assholes, can save a few percent by not paying their share of the health care that would allow the less well off to also be covered.
It is a sad time to be wearing dog tags, as neither nation particularly seems to be worthy of the service of its defenders right now. It doesn’t matter. Soldiers, like dogs, are renowned for their faithfulness in serving their masters, whether they are actually worthy of that service or not.
Right now it really helps to remember you are there to serve the people, because those who sit in the houses of the people, those who call themselves public servants while serving only their own political ideologies and not their folk, are a far cry from being worthy of the service of the least of our soldiers.
Somehow all this is supposed to anchor neatly in Christian theology, as the same leader in the US freed the churches to openly (and tax deductably) play politics. I don’t get it myself. I am just a poor Heathen, and figure Christ would be shitting a crucifix at what was just done in the US. My own lore looks at the question of taxing the rich and looking after the sick a little differently than the Republican reading of Christianity. From the Havamal:
39. If wealth a man | has won for himself,
Let him never suffer in need;
Oft he saves for a foe | what he plans for a friend,
For much goes worse than we wish.
40. None so free with gifts | or food have I found
That gladly he took not a gift,
Nor one who so widely | scattered his wealth
That of recompense hatred he had.
70. It is better to live | than to lie a corpse,
The live man catches the cow;
I saw flames rise | for the rich man’s pyre,
And before his door he lay dead.
71. The lame rides a horse, | the handless is herdsman,
The deaf in battle is bold;
The blind man is better | than one that is burned,
No good can come of a corpse.
Gods knows I am not a politician, and my leadership has always been on the small unit scale, where loyalty, commitment, and success of mission was more important than appearance and dogma. Perhaps it is different in the higher strata of power; because from down here among the actual people, it looks a lot like a leadership in both halves of North America that has little to no comprehension of who they serve, or what the honour that supposedly justifies their personal glory and power is supposed to look like.