Messages of mhere (an American tale) – Chapter 1

Long ago, in America, there lived a young woman named mhere.  mhere loved to bake and sew and work in her garden. Growing up in an era where girl power had come into vogue, she believed girls were just as smart as boys and she wanted to learn about everything.  Her favorite question was “why” and she happily explored her idyllic neighborhood  in the countryside and she loved to read about just about anything.  As she grew-up, history fascinated her, because here she felt she might find the answers to her many “why” questions.  In high school she joined a club to play a board game called “Diplomacy”.  Poor mhere was the only girl in the club and she really lost very badly at first, because she trusted the boys when they negotiated and her feelings got crushed as the moves unfolded and she was betrayed over and over again.  When she confronted the boys and told them, “you told me you weren’t going to do that!”, they would laugh at her and tell her, “this is how the game is played!”  One boy played this game brilliantly and he won almost all the time (that boy grew up to become a successful criminal defense lawyer, imagine that).  Poor mhere never got to be very good at this game, but she did improve.  She started thinking,  “I am not going to give up my forces without a fight!”, but she never got the hang of lying – she hated lying with a passion.  This game set mhere on a path to trying to understand war and the more she read about military strategy and military history, the more she wanted to find out.  Of course, having a romantic little heart, what could be more interesting than dashing, brave warriors who actually did amazing things.  So much went on in the world  and mhere, with her inquisitive nature, wanted to find out about all the happenings in the world.  A high school history teacher started each class talking about current events and mhere’s father read the daily newspaper religiously, so she became an unrepentant news junkie too.

Eventually mhere grew up and she married her own warrior, hotshot82nd.  As they moved around,  from one Army post to another, mhere spent her time doing housewifey things, taking care of her children and volunteering in her neighborhood, because her mother had instilled in her a belief that this is a “duty”.

Years passed and hotshot82nd decided to retire from the Army and he was looking forward to that.  Around this time the PC craze hit. Now mhere wasn’t much sold on the PC craze spreading across America and the idea of having a computer in the home seemed bizarre and just another expensive toy, which she had come to know quite well with sons and their endless demands for more gaming systems.  Of course,  hotshot82nd kept saying, “it will be great for the kids and they’ll use it!”  So, finally  hotshot82nd went out and bought their first PC.  At first, mhere felt intimidated by this new gadget, but her inquisitive kids quickly learned how to do all sorts of interesting things on the PC and mhere cautiously started exploring this brave, new world too.  Compared to the days when mhere had to rely on her trusty World Book Encyclopedia, this internet age linked her to so much information that she would spend hours upon hours “surfing” the internet, captivated by the amazing “sites” she saw.  Very quickly, the kids started complaining that mhere wasn’t sharing computer time and hotshot82nd kept reminding mhere that she was the one who thought a home PC was a ridiculous idea.

As the days went by, mhere started thinking, that while finding so much information entertained her, she thought, “boy, wouldn’t it be nice to write to other people and make friends in this new world.”  In typical mhere fashion, she started looking for pen pals, but then she discovered “message boards”.  She stumbled upon a politics message board and, oh my, mhere just loved debating politics.  She loved to gather facts and figures to hone a good argument for her point of view, but mhere hesitated jumping into this new community.  This new world had a new language and new rules on how to communicate and mhere spent a long time “lurking” before she ventured into “posting” messages.  And most of all she wanted to figure out who these posters were, because in this new world, people selected “user names” and she learned that some people changed their “user name” frequently or posted under several identities.  It reminded mhere of the masquerade balls in the historical Regency romance novels she loved to read.

One poster, marfark, posted frequently about some new form of governance he was proposing – that would lead to world peace.  From years of reading about government and politics, mhere placed her faith in the Constitution and she loved reading “The Federalist Papers” for fun.  From her life experiences, mhere, too had been reading and reading,  searching for many years for a path to peace, because she felt certain that “war” was a man-made invention and that somehow, some way there must be steps that could be taken to lead to a more lasting peace.  Of course, since mhere loved the Army, she thought in terms of “missions” and she felt that humans must have a purpose, because God would not give us an impossible mission.  Peace must be possible on a long-term basis.

So, mhere started reading everything she could about marfark’s ideas, because she was thinking about the same thing.  Many posters mocked and ridiculed marfark’s ideas, but he never backed down.  One old Marine struck mhere as the smartest poster on the entire message board.  He delighted in ripping marfark’s ideas to shreds in a wickedly funny manner.  Finally, mhere decided she wanted to talk to marfark, because she thought he was so against war, because he had been a soldier who had gone to war.  The way he argued caused an uneasy feeling, because mhere began to think she knew marfark (or a soldier just like him) long , long ago.  And mhere felt she needed to try to reason with him, because he had certainly lost his way with his pie-in-the-sky political system he was advocating.

Many years before, hotshot82nd had gone to war and as is the case in all wars, some of the brave warriors come back traumatized from the horrors that doing their duty entails.  The way that marfark argued brought back many memories of a friend of hotshot82nd’s, who spent many hours at their home, with mhere and the friend arguing about politics and many other issues frequently.  A year or so after this war, hotshot82nd left home to train in another state.  Lots of people liked to talk to mhere about their problems, even though mhere often felt like she wasn’t really much help at solving most of these problems. This friend kept getting in trouble with drinking-related incidents and despite having a bright future in the Army, he was struggling to cope with his war experiences.  One night the friend stopped by to talk to mhere and despair filled her heart, because she didn’t know how to help.  This friend had gotten another DUI and she knew he was going to run away from his problems and he did – he went AWOL.    Many, many times over the years mhere thought about this friend and hoped he had found inner-peace from the war still raging in his head.

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