A few decades had gone by, and still the war went on.  Nobody in the country even remembered who Osama bin Laden had been, although some had a vague memory of a terrorist getting killed at a televised White House dinner.

And yet, every Friday afternoon the same thing continued in my hometown–the old hippies came out to protest.  The real 1960s hippies had died out by then, but these folks proudly carried on the tradition.  They slouched down Main Street with signs proclaiming hilarious things such as “Troops Out Of Iraq!” and “No Money For Israel!” and “Funding For Infrastructure!”  They circled the downtown blocks, screaming at a President who couldn’t hear them, and who wasn’t listening anyway.

I could hear them, though, every week when I left the office.  The company I worked for manufactured toy drones, and I was always worn out after a long day of customers with malfunctioning drones which crashed into trees or attacked their children.  Friday was when I would treat myself — fries and a beer at my favorite downtown pub.  Even as I chewed, the hippie chants echoed in my direction.  Rain or shine, they were there.  And she was there.

I did my best to keep my eyes on my plate and avoid eye contact as she went past the glass. But on that particular day, much to my dismay, she came in to talk to me.

“Hey, Mom.”  I managed to fake a weak smile.  “I’m very tired right now, so…”

“Can’t I even say hi to you anymore?”

“Not if it turns into another crazy rant…”

“It’s not crazy.  It’s not crazy to tell you that your job is bad for you.  You’re wasting your life. You hate those stupid toys…”

“Oh, sure.  And you’re not wasting your time doing this?”

“I’m doing it for my country!”

“Look, Mom.  Nobody cares.  Your country isn’t paying attention.  This is my one reward for my shitty week–could you please leave me alone?”

“Okay.  Have a good dinner.”  I felt her move away and walk out behind me, but didn’t look back.

But once I’d finished my beer, my anger faded away.  Alcohol made me sentimental.  So what if she wanted to walk around and yell with her anti-war sign, or tell me about all the conspiracy theories she’d read on the Internet?  She was retired, and retired people got to spend their time doing whatever silly stuff they felt like doing.  Hell, maybe I’d join her at the rally.  I wouldn’t hold any signs, of course–I didn’t want any embarrassing pictures of me online–but I could applaud the speeches and pretend to chant along a little.

I paid for my meal and went to the city square, where the marches ended every week in a sparse, hoarse-throated rally.  I must’ve taken too long, because the square was empty by the time I got there.  The cops were half-heartedly arresting one or two people.  The grey-bearded little man who liked to throw eggs at them was being led away.

No rally, no protest, no chance to chant.  No chance to make it up to Mom.  It was now drizzling miserably.

I heard indistinct shouting to my right.  It was the other protester who was there every week — the one with pictures of chopped up babies.

“You’ll burn in eternal Hell!”  he boomed at me through his bullhorn.

He eyed me with suspicion as I approached.  I handed him a twenty.  “For your church,” I said.  I didn’t tell him that I felt sad for him.

He glared at me, but he did pocket the twenty.  In return, he handed me one of his anti-abortion brochures.

As I walked away, he called after me:  “Remember, God doesn’t just want your money!  He wants your soul!”

I laughed.  How sweet of him to assume I had one.

Okay, I think I’m starting to put together some rules for how to conduct myself in the new world we inhabit.  I’m naturally an introverted and private person, so these will be a little hard for me to get used to, but I think it’s best if I get started on adapting to them now.  Here are a few basic ones:

*Don’t do anything in your home that you wouldn’t want a drone to photograph.  Yeah, I used to think of it as the “privacy” of my own home, but that turns out to be a silly delusion.  Be on your best behavior, even in your bedroom.  I’m guessing sex is still acceptable as long as it takes place under the covers.

*Don’t communicate anything on the Internet–this includes “private” e-mails–unless you would be prepared to share it with the Department of Homeland Security.  Or the Chinese military.

*Don’t take a photograph unless you are okay with it being used in online advertising later on down the road.  (Or just be completely asocial like me and don’t share your pictures with your friends).

*Don’t wear embarrassing underwear–you never know when it might get displayed on a body scanner.

I’m guessing there’s more that I’m missing here.  As far as I know, my conversations aren’t being bugged and my thoughts can’t be read yet.  I remember hearing that the Age of Aquarius was going to bring all of humanity much closer together.  Is it wrong of me to feel that we are getting a little too close?  I like to be able to keep some things to myself.

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Had to take a moment to express my love for Grumpy Cat…finally, another creature with as much of an appreciation for pessimism as me 🙂  Fuck all that positive thinking bullshit.  Although unlike me, Grumpy Cat would probably say “Drone strikes on American citizens?  GOOD.”

In case anyone out there thinks that I never disagree with the Obama administration, here is an administration policy I feel very uncomfortable with–and at the same time an opportunity to give kudos to one of my local Senators.  Sen. Ron Wyden is requesting that he be allowed to look at legal opinions justifying the killing of American citizens in drone strikes.  This makes sense, as he is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and yet that committee is not being given the information that would enable them to oversee the legal basis for those targeted killings.

This at a time when the administration is at work on a counterterrorism manual which is essentially setting down the ground rules for continued drone attacks and assassinations.  Is it because Democrats have traditionally been accused of being soft on national security–is that why the President feels this need to act tougher than thou about these situations?  Because I hate to ruin a perfectly good stereotype, but if you are one of those hippies toting a peace sign around, this is not the President for you.  (If you’re a true blue Socialist, he’s really not the President for you either, but I digress.)  While he is in the process of ending a couple of wars, he is very much into the continuation of warlike activities.  Um, give peace a chance?