Strange Confessions: Cold War Children
Strange Confessions: Late at night, while having a sleepover at my best friends house, we’d listen to a song that would make us think the communists were coming for us through the windows, and we’d fight back with imagined incendiary devices and machine guns.
This best friend was one of the longest friendships I had formed in my younger years. Let’s call him Garth. We became friends in first grade and it went on strong through sixth grade, and waned a bit in the last couple of years at St. Vincents, then disappeared in high school, (see previous Strange Confession). He was a really good friend, had a really good family, although I remember seeing a sticker on his sister’s mirror in her room that said, “Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll.” It was the first time I had seen that kind of scary stuff in print, and she made me a bit nervous although she was hardly ever around; she was much older than us. I actually heard that she has her own family now and lives in the very same house they grew up in.
We’d stay up late and play this Flinstone’s game, where we made our very own cards that were missing, and laughed our heads off at our own artwork. I’d see him off and on for years and I’d bring up these pleasantly remembered moments, and eventually he’d show his boredom in my recital of years gone by, and tell me I’d always mention this when we’d see each other. I felt ashamed for remembering the past fondly. By this time he had gotten very successful in fact even now I can google him and find he has a profile listed in Forbes. I can see his salary listed and everything.
Anyway, the other favored activity was listening to the Rocky soundtrack. This was back when every boy’s favorite movie was Rocky and the inspiring music made feel invincible. We’d run up and down the basement, arms in the air, like Rocky, punching the air, quick jump roping, and training, like he did. But then there was this spooky song that came on. It made us a little frightened and opened up our imagination to believe that communists were attacking the U.S. and more specifically coming through the high windows in Garth’s basement. We’d pretend to lob grenades through the windows and shoot anyone we saw with our machine guns.
I spoke before in previous Strange Confessions, (see my Facebook StrangerInRebellion page) about being influenced as a child of things that weren’t necessarily in our range of vision. I can’t imagine how we were educated to understand that the communists were after us at that age. Rocky came out in ’76, which meant I was around 7-9 years old when we play acted this scenario. I mean, Red Dawn, an extremely fear driven movie about a Russian attack on U.S. soil, didn’t come out until ’84. That show scared me in a certain understanding that only comes with being 14 years old.
Yet there we were, being scared by a song and translating that into a personal attack on our homes. Was it Garth who had this idea? Was it me? Strange to think, as I look at my own children’s play: ponies, dragons, drawing, and imagined worlds of fantasy. Sure, maybe they have some idea of the threats that are in this world, perhaps more my oldest than the one who is seven years old now. Or maybe that idea only comes in to boys minds. I’m sure that’s not true. Perhaps it is the way we are raising our children: to understand that there is evil in the world, but eventually God is the victor and there is nothing to fear now. Yes, yes, I was raised a Catholic. But that relationship was a Sunday only thing for us, and there wasn’t much discussion about God at the dinner table, save for the rarely remembered moment to pray before; “Bless O Lord and these thy gifts for which we are about to receive, from thy bounty of Christ, our Lord. Amen.”
I love remembering my childhood, love my family, the friendships, the good times, the bad. For that, what I’ve said before, is what makes me who I am today. I want my children to remember fondly their childhood for the same reasons. Not be bitter because they didn’t have their own room, or had to move from friends, or remember that they were very much different from other kids their age. It is difficult. Especially when I don’t know if I should answer a friend who states on his facebook page, that all religious people should be sent to a planet without oxygen, so they can discuss things there. Or another, that vaguely states that they are sick of religious people shoving their ideals down other people’s throats. I suppose the rights of a “religious” person, their desire to see a world of another vision, is not welcome anywhere. That is what we, my wife and I, need to train our children to know. That their ideas will be hated, that their morals will be mocked, that if they want to have a business they better be prepared to fight a battle they might not foresee; the right to refuse someone services because of their way of life.
These Strange Confessions, many times have a mind of their own. I did not expect this one to go this way. But I suppose it was inevitable sometime. This introspective inspection of my past will reveal the harsh conditions of my children’s possible future. And again it reminds me of my current favorite verse: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” I have had to remind myself this, when I read some of my friends facebook posts, or when I see those friends who consider us “Persona non grata”, that these people are not against me per se, but what is coming against us is the forces of this dark world, and knowing that is what comforts me. That perhaps I’m doing something right, or that God is helping us to grow through tough things. Not that this compares with what other Christians face in the world, I can’t even compare my struggles with others who face death for claiming the name of Christ.
May I be strong in the face of these coming trials and train my children to know hope. The true hope that only comes through knowing that this world is not all. That all that this world can offer you may feel like it’s fulfilling you, and it does a very good job in this generation, but ultimately it has no eternal purpose. From the very beginning of my remembrances, I knew that there was more to this life than living and dying, and how can my God make my best friends not realize this. In that instance, I believe, it is all a choice. Thank you God for drawing me near you, for giving me an eternal perspective, a vulnerability that make me know whatever I do will never be enough in whatever enterprises I take on. Thank You!