One of the reasons Darrin Bell pops up here so often is that we think a lot alike and another is that he draws two strips and an editorial cartoon, so the odds of him hitting me squarely on any given day are pretty good.
But today's Candorville was a marvel of synchronicity, because just two days ago, I remembered something I had thought of a couple of decades ago, after we were out of Vietnam and the topic of interference was, for the moment, somewhat academic.
There had been an article about lack of clean drinking water in some Third World place and it occurred to me that it wouldn't cost us an arm and a leg to drop a team of workers in there and drill a well.
I've had friends, and even a niece, in the Peace Corps, and that's a great thing, but this would be less of a commitment to any particular community than that. Just give them a well, shake everyone's hands and ride off into the sunset.
I suppose if they then asked to have a Peace Corps volunteer come set up a school, or have someone else come set up a health clinic, that could happen, too, but it wouldn't be the mission of the well diggers.
Lemont suggests that Big Business would find a reason to object, and he's not entirely wrong. My grandfather used to suggest that we build all the guns and tanks and bombs and then go dump them into the ocean, so that we could have the economic benefits of war without the carnage.
Still, digging wells all around the world would at least provide us with jobs making well drilling equipment and pumps and piping. And we could build ships and helicopters and things to get the equipment and the installers from here to wherever.
Imagine some tin-pot dictator getting the news that los Yanquis had snuck in and left a group of villagers with clean drinking water, installing the Mother Of All Shadoofs in the town square.
Though, if we were going to do that, we should have started back when we were introducing the Marshall Act, in the wake of WWII, which was my father's, not my grandfather's, war, and the one in which our troops were led by the man who, as president, made that widely quoted remark about how military spending robs us of the ability to do better things.
As this explanation of, and expansion upon, Ike's quote makes clear, the moment was 1953 at the death of Stalin, and perhaps it was the last moment in which the United States could have made such a shift of priorities.
But instead of installing wells, we installed Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It did not have the same public relations impact.
By the time my son went off to war, we'd soiled our reputation around the globe to a level that left him gobsmacked. No stranger to international travel but a newcomer to the Gulf region, he said with a tone of wonder, "They hate us. They hate us!"
His time in the Gulf, and his remark, came after Kuwait but several years even before the attack on the USS Cole, which David Horsey memorably, and with some of that same sense of regretful wonder, captured in this cartoon.
Next Generational Synchronicity
And xkcd also hits on something I've been pondering, because I recently put together a front page for my kid-written publication that featured two reviews, one of an IMAX movie about engineering careers and one about a Disney on Ice show full of skating princesses, both of which were called "Dream Big."
It felt like the inevitable climax of kids being told in every interview to "follow their dreams," to the point where I was trying to decide if I should drop an editorial edict against the phrase or, perhaps, send out a note to interview subjects when these things were being set up, begging them not to use the expression.
As Randall Munroe notes, it's "survivorship bias" and it's easy to stand there on the stage at the Academy Awards and talk about the importance of following your dreams, but the homeless shelters are full of people with dreams and I don't think I've ever met a down-and-outer who didn't have a story about a dream that never came true.
My plan is to instruct my young writers that, if someone tells them to "follow their dreams," their follow-up question should be, "And what did you have to do in order to make your dream come true?"
The movie "Dream Big" seems pretty cool and I gathered from my 11-year-old reviewer's commentary that it does suggest that the dream comes first but plenty of work follows.
Check out this trailer:
As for Disney's skating princesses, I almost feel unable to comment on their dreams, because I'm not even sure why they are a thing.
That is, there is an internal process going on over on the XX side that those of us on the XY side simply aren't in on, that we cannot grok and should probably shut up about.
It involves Disney princesses and "Sex in the City" and just the right shoes but also forgotten NASA workers and not telling little girls how pretty they are but, then again, yes, you should as long as you also tell them they can be anything they want to be as long as they are fearless and follow their dreams.
I don't get it. I mean that quite sincerely.
I'm gonna just go home and watch TV, where fearless is as fearless does.