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Journey to Irony I: The Lands of Alpha and Beta

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As I look down the boulevard, I see a majestic palace at its terminus. The band and crowd are moving toward the palace and banners are waving in the breeze on each side of the street, declaring that we are all “safe and prosperous!” and that “victory is at hand!” I can see from a distance that grandstands have been set up in front of and to the side of palace. Apparently, some speeches are to be delivered and perhaps some more playing of the band once it arrives at the palace. I suspect that the many loudspeakers now conveying the music of the band music will soon be deployed for broadcasting the speeches to be delivered in front of the palace.

I walk down the boulevard – in the opposite direction from where everyone else is moving or marching. I am pushing through the crowd and creating a bit of a disturbance. Am I counter-dependent (as the psychotherapists might say) or at least non-patriotic in moving against the flow of the crowd? I walk under an arch that spans the boulevard. It is commemorating the war dead from an ancient conflict.

When I look up to the other end of the boulevard, I see a very large, all-white movie “palladium” where a movie festival is announced on large banners (what is it about movie festivals when I am on my journey!!). The festival, which will begin in one week, is featuring the movies of John Wayne and Sylvester Stallion. Right now, the palladium is playing Patton and there are pictures everywhere of George C. Scott in uniform as the great General Patton.

In reflecting on my “swimming upstream” against the movement of the crowd and band, I decide to talk briefly with some of the folks who are walking (or marching) to the palace. I ask several of them what is being celebrated. They look aghast and asked (with considerable emotion in their voice) why I am even asking the question. One of the folks with whom I connected, simply moved away from me and pointed me out to several of his colleagues. I was clearly an “outsider” and apparently was assumed to be a “non-believer.” I felt uncomfortable and clearly, I am “a stranger in a strange land.”

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