War Is For Grownups

[Warning: fiction ahead] Pining for one big happy united world does not jive with the fact that we would not want to be in the same room with a hefty percentage of the seven billion people we share it with. Just step outside our little bubble and that’s clear. At best, you and I might feel at one with several million or so.Well if Earthlings cannot be one big happy seven-billion member family then much less can we become one big happy united Universe. You see there are whole worlds operating on premises more alienating than Earthlings who belong to the wrong political party.

It just so happens I stopped in one such goofy planet that made me curious in spite of myself. They have a way to keep war at a minimum, but by means most Earthlings would find unpalatable. Like many places on Earth, the inhabitants have a life-span of approximately seventy to ninety years. But no one may join the military until they are at least sixty years of age. I know this because my tour guide Buroh explained this to me when I remarked how peaceful their planet is. The creature said, “This policy has many benefits. Top on the list of course is that wars are infrequent and short. Old people don’t have much stamina for prolonged conflict, and with the perspective of their years, often keep a cool head to avoid wars in the first place. Another great thing is that by either training for war or in extreme cases going to fight, the ancients have something to do once they retire. And lastly, when our people are young and most fit, they apply all that energy to their occupations and family life instead of wasting it on wounding and killing. On Earth, you take such a foolish risk of wasting citizen resources when they are at their most valuable. That is so inefficient; it’s hard for me to relate to your species.  Doesn’t it make more sense to let the young live decades more whereas an old person has already given their best years and risks losing at most about ten years of life?”

No doubt their way of life has its charms, but I was too polite to say to my guide that rare is the Earthling who would countenance having the elderly endure the physical and mental strain of say, driving a tank over bumpy terrain. More fundamentally, we like to get bad things over with in our lives and look forward to taking it easy as we wrap things up.  A united Universe? What were we thinking?

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If you like this whimsical sort of satire blended with science fiction, then you might like my gentle sci-fi book, Curiosity Seekers, about an endearing old-fashioned couple in the future who sometimes has trouble feeling united with each other let alone with the larger society. See reviews and a free chapter on Amazon. It is available on Kindle and as a paperback and can be purchased wherever books are sold.

In Honor of Offbeat Compassion’s Third Anniversary

It is quiz time once again! I figured this would be a fit way to celebrate the third anniversary of Offbeatcompassion.com which is July 4th. It is also a sneaky way to get people to read more of my posts, beginning with February 24th through the present. Here are the rules: 1. I will only count responses made to my email address, karenbookmankaplan@gmail.com  ( No one will be on a mailing list as a result.) 2. I will count responses in the order they are received. 3. The first 3 people to give me the correct best answers will win. The prize will consist of: being the first people in the general public to see a sample from my next book, The Curiosity Seekers. It is compassionate (what else?) science fiction, and I will send the sample via email as a Microsoft Word attachment.  Once I get 3 winners, I will notify everyone here in this introduction  that the competition is over, and I will reveal the answers. Update: as of July 11th, I have one winner. This contest will close July 15th.

 

A. This quote from a poem by an Iraqi, “allow my pen to slay itself,” refers to

  1. another quote, “the pen is mightier than the sword.”
  2. writer’s block.
  3. mental illness.
  4. a euphemism for a kind of grieving that has gone too far.

B.Even though I am a rabbi, I was hired by my current hospice because

  1. I can speak Spanish with  the many Hispanic Catholic patients they have.
  2.   Most of the patients are Jewish or agnostic.
  3.   They could not ask my religion due to fair employment guidelines
  4.  The chaplain’s particular faith does not matter. Spirituality is what counts

C. One of the more fascinating encounters I have had with a patient involved:

  1. Someone who turned out to be a distant cousin of mine.
  2. One whose occupation in their youth was as a clown in Disney World.
  3. A 99-year-old who could still play chess.
  4. A Nigerian nun in a convent.

D. “Do you think God should be fired?” Regarding that question,

  1. I asked it to help a patient articulate his ambivalent feelings about God.
  2. I would never ask such an irreverent question.
  3. A patient asked me that to see if he could shock me.
  4. I really asked, “Has God disappointed you?”

E. It is nonsense to say society should dispense with chaplains at hospices since the U.S. is more secular because,

  1. some patients are very devout; not everyone is secular.
  2. some chaplains are secular themselves.
  3. it is rare indeed to have someone visit a patient with no agenda other than to share in their suffering or perplexity.
  4. who can be the judge of who is secular and who is not?