The Prayer of the Paratrooper
Translation by Robert Petersen
I’m asking You God, to give me what You have left.
Give me those things which others never ask of You.
I don’t ask You for rest, or tranquility.
Not that of the spirit, the body, or the mind.
I don’t ask You for wealth, or success, or even health.
All those things are asked of You so much Lord,
that you can’t have any left to give.
Give me instead Lord what You have left.
Give me what others don’t want.
I want uncertainty and doubt.
I want torment and battle.
And I ask that You give them to me now and forever Lord,
so I can be sure to always have them,
because I won’t always have the strength to ask again.
But give me also the courage, the energy,
and the spirit to face them.
I ask You these things Lord,
because I can’t ask them of myself.
I’m not a religious man, to say the least, but this one does encompass my feelings about this election season. I’m not necessarily hoping for the best outcome: Trump vs Clinton seems nearly inevitable, and I think there’s a South Park episode about that situation already.
What I’m hoping for, really, is chaos.
I want Trump to win the nomination, despite my distaste for the man, because I want to see if the Republicans are going to grow a spine and rebel against our future Great Orange Leader. I want Bernie to do well enough that maybe he can finally drive a solid wedge between the populist and corporatist factions of the Democratic party and split the likes of Elizabeth Warren from the likes of Hillary Clinton.
I want to see the whole system tear itself apart, because it’s the first real chance we’ve had in far too long to maybe, just maybe, start over.
Yes, it entails risk. I’d generally rank Hillary slightly over Trump in terms of potentially disastrous presidency, but realistically the very best you can hope for from Hillary is “more of the same”, and from Trump that perhaps if we stop playing fair in the global economy we might finally be able to convince countries like China to start.
I’m not one of those “but millions of people will die if Trump gets elected” people, nor do I think that Hillary is suddenly gonna come and take away your guns. I do think that Trump will probably cause a certain amount of chaos, and I fully expect Hillary to meddle in affairs she doesn’t understand (as has been the tradition of American presidents) and continue with our absolutely disastrous policy of operating flying murder machines, manufacturing martyrs most magnificently.
Ah, alliteration, how I’ve missed thee.
I want it all to burn. Because the political machine in the United States has crafted itself a suit of Gordian armour, that can only be destroyed from the inside out. They’ve locked down the election process to such an extent that candidates outside the Big Two have functionally zero chance of success, so if we want to start getting some semblance of actual representative government, we need the existing representatives to start murdering each other until the survivors are willing to see reason.
I want to see blood in the aisles, Congressmen and Senators marching into battle against members of their own party as the bailiffs stand to one side and let loose with the March of Cambreadth on a set of bagpipes. I want to see Sanders’ March to the Sea cutting a burning swathe through the Democratic party, laying waste to all behind it, while Trump grinds away legions of his own supporters fighting the Republicans who rebelled against him.
And yet I’m terrified of the notion.
Because the system is dysfunctional enough as it is. It’s broken, yes, but at least the bureaucracy more or less keeps the wheels turning and the lights on, and while they may be filling the role of the Sons of Martha, they’re not exactly doing it with a careful soul or troubled heart. After all, when you’re in government, it’s always someone else’s money.
I just don’t see another way to do this quickly. Reforming the system from within is nearly hopeless; the labor of lifetimes to undo what the labor of lifetimes has created, with the establishment fighting you every step of the way. Only by making the establishment fight itself could the situation be resolved soon enough for me to see the end of it.
And given my family history, I rather expect to live another sixty or seventy long, unpleasant years, seeing the political class become increasingly entrenched behind fortifications of campaign finance, fortified with Gerrymandered trenches, ever more isolated from the people for whom they theoretically speak.
We’ve gotten comfortable with the system, snuggled into it like a warm sweater in the winter, and too many of us have failed to realize that they never stopped knitting it, and what started out as a sweater has somehow become a straitjacket, locking us in.
It might just be time to cut loose.