Nation building:
I am a doctor and a scientist.  If I am not working in a lab one way or another I am doing my homework as best I can to make my lab work work.  I have nothing to offer in politics except that freedom of choice is very important and social support of an individual to a certain extent can defend that freedom.  So when I watch the news it is only as a horrified spectator, not with any expectation of being of any help or even coming up with a new idea.

All right.  In the longest of long runs I think our society’s scotoma with regards to kinship and fertility is the cause of more harm than we can conceive of.  And I’m working on that.  But before there is awareness it doesn’t serve much purpose to fuss about this policy decision or that.  As a youth, I once went swimming alone (If there is anything stupid I have never done, don’t tell me about it; I’m sure to try it.) in a lake on an overcast, moonless night far from any town.  A bunch of us had gone out camping.  As I cruised silently I noticed a few of my friends leave the bonfire and come down to the edge of the lake and whisper.  They were telling ghost stories.  Ho, ho!  “The Monster rises from the swamp.”  I aimed in their general direction, submerged quietly and began to swim underwater toward them.  The lake surface was as a mirror.  The fire was at angle from where I was so that no light entered the water.  The darkness was absolute.  When I got to the little beach I would rise up and give my best roar.  So far so dumb.

By the time I ran out of air I figured I was about half way there.  If I could be careful enough I could get another lungful being very quiet and then complete my prank.  But the surface wasn’t where I expected it.  I angled up more steeply.  No surface.  Forget the prank.  Just go up fast.  No surface.  “Air!  Air!”  About then I crashed at an unexpected angle into the steeply sloping bottom.  I think I had been doing loops.  I froze.  I was so deep my lungs were collapsed and I settled onto my feet and oriented to gravity.  Then I shot up with every bit of strength I had.  I didn’t clear the surface; I hardly came to where my waist was level with it.  I went splashing in joyfully, “Hello everybody.  Hello.”

“Shut up, Linton.  We’re telling ghost stories.” 

What I mean is that if you are totally lost and nobody is going to come looking for you it doesn’t much matter what direction you wander in.  So I have no political agenda.  I just watch the news and gag. 

But sometimes it gets to me.  I was reading an interview with some government official – I made no note of her name – who was talking about one of the unhappy lands where America has been killing people or helping them kill each other.  She said our biggest problem was going to be rebuilding the country.  I don’t remember her office, but I can assure you she is paid far more and gets far more social stroking than I ever was or got to perform her duties, which involved making prudent decisions. 

So she listed the things it took to build a country: Economy, institutions and infrastructure.  That’s it.  You’ve taken the lives of millions under your control and that is the limit of what you are interested in doing for them.  They’re horribly poor.  They’ve always been horribly poor.  They don’t care.  Their institutions are rudimentary compared with ours.  They don’t want that any different either.  Their infrastructure … well it would be nice if they had good water to drink, but she wasn’t talking about health.

What about health?  What about stabilizing their culture?  What about education?  What about nurturing their families?  That’s where they live.  Those are the things they care about, just like you and me.   But to officialdom they don’t even rate lip service. 

You don’t suppose anybody out there is going to hate us, do you?

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