It’s 2013, for God’s sake! I decided it’s time to get out my bucket list. While my list is long, I must admit that there’s an equal number of completed items. It’s been a full life so far, which is why I’m not thrilled about being closer to the end than the beginning. But I’m greedy and I want more.
The last few years have been a bit dull, due to some kinks in my timeline so I’m ready to do something fun… something I’ve never done before but that doesn’t inconvenience me too much. Sounds like travel and the most exotic place On my list is China! Communist China, land of Chairman Mao, “The Good Earth” and Bruce Lee. Land of mystery and history. I feel like I’m going to Hogwarts.
I grew up in the cold war. In first grade we were told to cover magazines in fabric and bring them to school. These would be our “air raid cushions”. In case of an air raid alarm, we were to grab the magazines, crawl under our desks, get into a ball and shield our heads with the magazines. I assume the fabric was to prevent the janitor from confusing the air raid magazines with other, less distinguished periodicals and tossing them out. We had weekly drills and replaced the magazines each fall but we never got to test the effectiveness of glossy paper against the hydrogen bomb.
Threat and fear of Communism was a theme of my childhood. Since we had no political reference, being born long after “WW II” (s my grandfather called it), we found it hard to get worked up. I remember looking out of my bedroom window, seeing searchlights in the sky and wondering if that meant the “Commie Pinkos” were going to land in my backyard and do God knows what. We felt afraid but didn’t know what we were afraid of. Eventually it just felt like empty threats. Children have amazing radar for BS. The more it’s slung, the less respect they have for the slinger. Now that I think of it, maybe this set the tone for the hippie movement “Don’t trust anyone over 30”. The Hippies were just before me in the youth rebellion timeline but I caught the tail end. After years of being threatened by the Cold War we began to wonder if it was a figment of their imagination. 50 years later we find out it was but even then, we knew something didn’t add up. It takes most of us years to connect those dots but it’s pretty simple. There was no Red Bogey Man. Anyone who can’t explain something to an 8 year old, does not understand it themselves. Period. The conversation goes something like this;
Teacher: “In Communist countries, the government decides what the children will be taught.”
Student: “Like your lesson plan?”
Teacher: “That’s completely different…. don’t talk back”