03 March 2003 by Published in: current events 4 comments



Weekend was hectic. I discovered an hour after I was supposed to be at
work on Saturday that I was supposed to work this past Saturday and not
next Saturday. It was my mistake, of course, but it was quite a jolt to
try and rush in to work under that short notice. On top of everything
else it was MAD, MAD busy. I sat down a total of 10 minutes all morning,
and took an abbreviated 10 minute break instead of the 15 minute break
we’re alloted. The other person working did the same thing. It wasn’t
too bad, though. No rude patrons and a nice mix of newbies and
experienced folk.

I have a whole list of things to write about, and one of the things I
have been thinking about writing on and off is related to politics. I
believe very strongly that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and
politics is no exception to that belief. I like to have discussions with
people on what they think and why. I especially like hearing from people
who have seriously considered their political stance and think
differently than I do. My father-in-law is a good person to hear from,
because we often think very similarly but arrive at different conclusions
on how things should be handled politically. At any rate, I hate to
inflict my own personal political opinions on people, especially if
they’ve come here looking for great stories about my kid, but I also feel
like this has been something much on my mind, lately, and if I can’t
express myself about it here, then where can I? Also, I think war is a
serious matter, and it should be thought about seriously by everyone, not
just politicians and military commanders. But what to say? It’s not
like all the rhetoric on both sides of the issue isn’t already tiring to
everyone who is following the news even if only marginally attentively.
Still, I feel like if I do not say that I am against this war that I’m
endorsing it with my silence. I am not for this war. Again, I say, I
am not for this war.
And while it’s true that I’m (what many
people would consider) a lily-livered pacifist, and that from a personal
standpoint I find war abhorrent in every circumstance when it occurs, I am
not such an ingenue that I don’t comprehend the need for our nation to
sometimes engage in war. I understand that Saddam Hussein is a terrible
tyrant that oppresses his people in ways that are so barbaric we probably
can’t even fathom them as free people living a luxuriant middle class
lifestyle in the West. I just don’t see how it follows that we should go
to war with him now, over this. The way I see it, there’s always time to
wage war later, if it should become necessary. It just doesn’t seem
necessary right now. In the case of the weapons of mass
destruction, it seems clear that it would be extremely difficult for these
to be used against us. In fact, it’s probably much easier for North Korea
to get a shot off at us, and we know without a shadow of
a doubt that they have nuclear capabilities, so why are we ignoring them
as a threat, but holding up Iraq as this overwhelming menace to our
stability? This policy of pre-emptive strikes is terrifying and
incomprehensible to me. I feel like I’ve suddenly become a part of the
world’s largest bully, who by turns throws tantrums and threatens people
with violence to get what he wants. It looks to me, and unfortunately I’m not
alone in this perception, as though the U.S. government has just chosen Iraq
to make an example of for the purposes of showing everyone our lethality and
making them fear us. Since when do we do that? Frankly, it’s barbaric. Is
that what we are now? The biggest barbarians on the block of Earth?
Justified in our actions by having the biggest pile of rocks to throw at
people? I have always been pleased to be an American. Even when, as a
nation, we have acted less than honorably, I have always felt like we
tried as a people to do the right thing. When we engaged in behaviours I
thought were despicable, as a nation, I have always been able to reason
that these were secret things that our government did without the
knowledge or consent of the people it governed. But not this time.
Everyone knows we’re going to this war: sending soldiers up to be
slaughtered, planning to level a whole city of civilians, appointing
ourselves as judges to see who is fit to rule another sovereign nation and
everyone knows that it is for no reason. Everyone knows that this cannot
possibly sway any terrorist. Everyone knows that the
anti-American rhetoric that’s so common in that part of the world, even
among our allies, will only be intensified by the actions we are planning.
Why, then, are we doing them? I know I’m going to sound terribly
old-fashioned, but I wish that our president was required to have served
in the military, and preferably have seen active duty. I don’t think you
should be permitted to inflict the horrors of war without experiencing
them firsthand. Not that such a thing would necessarily help much, but it
would possibly help a little. To be honest, I don’t know what would help.
All I know is that we are going to war and I disapprove of it, and not
just because I’m personally a pacifist, but because it seems like a
terrible idea whose fruit can only be exactly what we purport to thwart by
striking first. I worry about my child when the next generation must reap
what we are sowing here today.

The worst part of all this, I suppose, is the feeling that I’m in a plane
that’s going down. The pilot has fallen asleep, and no one is controlling
the aircraft, but I can’t get to the controls to stop the crash. Several of
the people I have talked about the war also describe this same feeling of
helplessness. There’s nothing we can do to stop this. It’s inevitable
and it involves us and we’re completely powerless to change it. I don’t
suppose it will make any difference to anything, but because I need to
take some action, I’ve decided to participate in the National Moratorium to Stop the War on Iraq on
March 5. I will be staying home from work on Wednesday, and I will be
praying for wisdom in our nation’s leaders and in myself. I will be thinking
about war and the consequences of war. I will start the Lent season in this
spirit of humility and maybe my sense of hopelessness will be replaced with
one of hope. I will decide what to give up for Lent. I’ve never given up
anything for Lent before, it’s not something commonly done among most
Protestant sects, including the one that I was raised in. This year, though,
when grievous losses are so imminent it seems important that I partake in the
symbolism of giving things up willingly. I am not sure yet what this will be. I will think about it tomorrow.

If I were wise and eloquent, instead of the preceding two paragraphs, I
would have written something like what Umberto Eco said in this
article, entitled “Love America and march for peace”
. When I read it,
I knew I was reading the words of a kindred spirit, and I knew that I was
not alone. While it does nothing to prevent what’s coming, it made me
feel less solitary and gave words to things I had not been able to name or
explain but felt all the same. (Thanks to Neil Gaiman and his wonderful blog for the Eco
article link.)

One more thing on the topic of war, and then I’ll promise to quit for the
day and write happier things tomorrow. I have mulled over the significance
this incident
since I first read about it about a month ago. Although
I’m largely out of the loop when it comes to the mainstream news cycle, I
didn’t hear anything about it anywhere else. I’m glad I didn’t miss it
(thanks, Dave, for showing me the
link), as I found it to be a telling and thought-provoking incident. It’s a
curious case of political correctness. We don’t want to offend important
U.S. personages who may be making statements about war so we’ll hide this
horrific artistic interpretation of what war is. Censorship in the name of
good taste? I think Picasso would have been outraged. I imagine that the
bombings the U.S. has planned for Baghdad will be very much like the
bombing of Guernica. Can the U.S. not bear to have its representatives
stand before a rendering of what war is like? We believe in this war,
don’t we? Believe in it enough to bomb civilians, but not enough to
stand in front of a painting about bombing civilians? Was this something
the U.N. did out of deference to the U.S.? Did the U.S. request the
action? Curious, isn’t it? Curious also, that it went largely
unremarked. Why? Too controversial? Too boring? Americans don’t care
about art? about Picasso? about the U.N.? about war? Personally, I’d
like to have seen Colin Powell talking about waging war in front of
Picasso’s “Guernica”. I don’t think we should be shielded from the
reality of war, even through the focus of artistic interpretation. If I
were to condone or even endorse U.S. military action, I would hope it
would be with complete awareness of the destruction it will cause. I
haven’t decided whether this act is a sign of our government’s
paternalistic view of its people or whether some PR man felt that the view
of “Guernica” behind Powell’s head would be bad press and needed to be
concealed from the public eye. Thoughts on the matter? Share them with me.


Thu 20th Mar 2003 at 3:31 pm

testing comments

Thu 20th Mar 2003 at 3:50 pm

blah blah blah comment comment comment more of the same never ending blah biddy blah blah

Thu 20th Mar 2003 at 4:21 pm

yet one more comment. I’m wondering if it ever decides there’s too many comments to display or if I have to set that somewhere

Fri 21st Mar 2003 at 6:03 am

OK this is as far as I’ve gotten and oooohh yay so much to read now! Must do later.. Must get to work–on time today.

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