Along with the rest of the world, my family breathed a huge sigh of relief when the news broke Captain Phillips had been rescued from the Somalian pirates. They were not only relieved a hostage—and fellow New Englander—had been saved, but that Mom might return to the land of the reasonably sane.
I went a little crazy over the course of the last few days. The situation became all wrapped up in some bigger thing for me, and it’s a little hard to explain. With the entire freakin’ planet going to crap around us, Captain Phillips became an emotional touchstone for me—if he died, we were doomed. If he lived, we would persevere. I know. Crazy.
Logically, I understood what the Tall Kid was trying to tell me everytime I shouted at the TV to just go all US Navy on their asses. There was more at stake than the life of one man. The Somalian pirates are holding hundreds of hostages on multiple ships. Other governments urging us to be cautious. And it occurred to me while trying to match my emotion against his logic, that my kids and I will always have a different outlook on some things.
My sons are being raised in a time when the United States is part of a global community. Talking is good. Touchy-feely diplomacy is good. Sure, the world’s economy is collapsing and we all live in terror, but everything’s oh-so-civilized now. Our shock and awe now leads to a decade of our soldiers sacrificing themselves for political greed and questionable progress. When we tell a country we’d prefer they don’t do something, they laugh and tell us to pound sand.
I came of age on military bases during the eighties. Superpower, baby. You simply did not fuck with the United States of America. Almost every civilized person on the planet had a side—you were with us or you were with the Soviet Union. Economies thrived under the competition of war, technology and space exploration. Nobody was having Blue Light Specials on old nuclear technology and weapons to finance food for their countries. Two men, two buttons, and the world was good.
I needed Sunday’s moment. I needed desperately to believe that, with the world watching, there would be no standing down. No leaving that man behind. I know, in the global scale of things, it was a small moment. Four armed men and one hostage.
But it was a moment in which our President and our Navy said unequivocally you have fucked with the wrong person.
It was a good day.