By Trudy Wischemann
The ink was barely dry on my last column, “Guns in Church,” before a new killing stole the headlines and the public’s eye. My prediction that people would not remember the five people lost at sea off the coast of Alaska, but would remember the two parishioners shot in a Texas church was torpedoed by the American killing of the Iranian general Qasem Soleimani… Why I would go on making any predictions after that is beyond me.
And yet, making predictions is a very human enterprise. Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Americans make a living making predictions for the news, for various industries, for Wall Street and the World Bank. It is necessary both financially and emotionally to have some idea what might be coming in the next week, month and year. Those of us who think our species’ future is tied to the future of other species also are involved in making predictions. It may not be immediately obvious to most people who have received no education in ecosystems that the future of the polar bear is tied to the future of the Arctic Ice Cap. It may be even harder to see that future as important to our future here in the Central Valley, but there is a correspondence. As the ice cap shrinks and the polar bears sink into non-existence, we should realize the canaries are screaming their heads off about our situation here, down in the mine.
When I heard that we had immediately sent 3,000 more American troops to Iraq after snuffing out Soleimani, when the ink was barely dry on the press release, a prediction rose from my heart in dismay. It was never specified for what purpose those additional troops, “our boys” were sent, other than perhaps the assumption they would help protect the troops we already have stationed there. What I saw in my heart was that now we have more of our boys in harm’s way, that we sent them there for that very purpose, with the more fundamental purpose in mind of cinching the 2020 presidential election.
“We never change horses when we’re in the middle of a war,” I heard drifting up from my clenched stomach’s mists. It was an argument used between Nixon’s two terms, if I remember rightly. We can’t replace the Commander in Chief now: it would be taken as a sign of weakness and make our troops overseas more vulnerable to attack. It doesn’t matter how well or badly that commander is waging that war. There will be no turnover until hostilities have subsided.
So, if you’ve got concerns about being re-elected, there’s nothing quite like a little military conflict to swing, swing voters back to your side. The disaffected hang their heads and say “I’m sorry, but I can’t endanger our boys overseas,” and cast their vote for the CC.
So. That’s as clear as I’m going to make that prediction, for fear that, in saying it, I might help make it come true. But here is what little I know about predictions: if today’s conditions remain the same, there’s some likelihood that one can predict the outcome of any series of events. But what changes daily, even hourly, minute by minute, are today’s conditions.
The truth is, we don’t know what’s going to happen, or why, even after it happens. And for the moment, I’m going back to grieving for the families of those five lost at sea, and the Coast Guardsmen and -women who searched 1,400 square miles of open water, looking for their bodies. Sometimes honoring the past is more fruitful than trying to predict the future.
Trudy Wischemann is the daughter of a former Coast Guardsman who writes. You can send her your newsworthy notes c/o P.O. Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247 or visit www.trudysnotesfromhome.blogspot.com and leave a comment there.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.