Whiffenpoof Nation/ or

7 Nov

How we poor lambs lost our way

We’re poor little lambs
Who have lost our way,

We’re little black sheep
Who have gone astray
…The Whiffenpoof Song…Yale
It had to have begun in the cold war fifties when we were so busy getting ahead. Upward mobile Levittown dwelling interstate highway paving boosters, all. But what about them? Over there. Who hated us and wished us harm. Big time harm. Did the word go out from on high to keep us scared enough to go back to a permanent war, now called defense, footing? Did the flock become a tad feisty, a bit less sheepish, kinda, maybe, wolfish for a while?

Or did these fears then begin to internalize and prompt the bomb shelters, spy hunts, loyalty pledges and a creeping edginess? An attack of the nerves perhaps; writ national? Was that when we began to project our anxiety outward; blaming others for our own fears? Gradually the demonization and hostility towards so many others came home to settle in on us. Had we, then, lost our way?
Baa, Baa,Baa.

It’s difficult to recall exactly when our noble flock became so anxious and flighty; now almost at stampede level. We entered the fifties fresh from victory in the Pacific over the hated foe. (Our staunch partner now.) Spirits soared and confidence reigned. Cars got finned, babies boomed and rock rolled. Alas, we little black sheep went far astray in Korea. Ditto Vietnam. Then, totally lost, off to Grenada.Iraq.Iraq.Libya.Yemen.Somalia.Syria et al.
Baa, Baa, Baa.

Bunch of nasty guys steal and crash planes into our important stuff and we go to war with everybody. Years later we’re all in such a state that someone with a nasty germ in Texas brings near panic to Maine. Videos of nasty guys in black masks and long knives six thousand miles away cause our throats to clench in terror. Any threat to the status quo causes great fear and outbursts of nastiness among our national leaders. Have we, nervous ruminants, at long last neutered our few remaining sheep dogs and left ourselves prey to the wolves in our psyches?


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