Getting back to the future?

This is the time of year when columnists do their year-in-review piece and offer prognostications for the future.

But in this crazy, mixed-up world the future seems more uncertain than ever. Those leading us into the future don't appear content with simply repeating history. It's as if there's a conscious desire to literally bring America back to the "good 'ol days," at least as far back as the era pined for by Archie Bunker. Back when men were men and goyles were goyles.

Not only is it politically correct to think of "liberals" as meatheads, it's now cool to ridicule international law and the U.N. as "ineffective," even though the genocide in Rwanda and the current crisis in Darfur were not and have not been effectively addressed because of the lack of political will on the part of the country who created and controls the U.N.

And despite the mid-term election "thumpin,'" the New McCarthyism that sees a "terrorist-sympathizer" in anyone who isn't a war cheerleader, is still very much in vogue.

How far back are we going to go? Manifest Destiny?

Can America get back to the future?

All this confusion has once again led me to seek out Dr. Oxy Moron for a little perspective. Of course, Dr. Moron continues to limit her comments to the memorable witticisms and the often paradoxical observations of celebrated sages.

SG: One of the "biggest" events of 2006 was the mid-term elections that swept the Democrats into Congressional power. But President Bush said recently that he interpreted the "thumpin'" to mean Americans were simply not happy with the "progress" in Iraq, not as a call for a timely end to the occupation. Do you think the Democratic resurgence will lead to a change in the direction this country is heading?

DM: The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution (Hannah Arendt).

SG: I suppose with all the uncertainty and fear in the air it should come as no surprise that there's a lot of talk about faith in politics. Whether it's the "war on terror" or the "culture war," matters of faith are very much intertwined with debate over policy and seems inextricably linked to conflict. Does religious faith inevitably lead to war and conflict?

DM: A faith is something you die for; a doctrine is something you kill for: there is all the difference in the world (Tony Benn). The problem isn't competing faiths but competing doctrines.

SG: There's also lots of talk about the "war on terror" being a "clash of civilizations" or a conflict of "civilization" against "barbarism." But it seems like America is moving backwards. Do you agree?

DM: You can't say civilization don't advance. ...In every war they kill you in a new way (Will Rogers).

SG: Didn't Nietzsche say something about the civilized becoming monsters?

DM: He said, whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.

SG: Nietzsche wasn't very kind to religion. Do you share his disdain?

DM: God is best known in not knowing Him (St. Augustine).

SG: Speaking of monsters and Nietzsche - the philosopher who championed the will-to-power - what do you think was running through Saddam's mind as the noose was tightened around his neck?

DM: I suppose if I had (won) the war I would (not) have been tried as a war criminal. (Un)fortunately, I was on the (losing) side (inverting the words of Gen. Curtis Lemay on World War II).

SG: As we head into the new year, do you have any parting advice?

DM: When a dog runs at you, whistle for him (Thoreau).

SG: Any human-relations advice?

DM: Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right (Isaac Asimov).

SG: Happy New Year and many more to come.

DM: Yeah, well, the future ain't what is used to be (Yogi Berra).

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