by "Time and Circumstance"
Bombs fall, explosions, screams, pain...the end of life...
As we sit down to dinner with our families and review the happenings of another day in the life of America and the World, are we aware of what transpires in our name? WE are the United States of America. WE are "The Government". People around the World live or die at our pleasure. Am I being melodramatic? Let's review.
Every four years we elect a leader. As we are the most powerful Country in the history of the World, there exists a special responsibility for us to choose our leadership well - not only for how that choice will affect us as Americans but how it will affect the World at large. How do we meet that special calling? Not very well. Political campaigns have degenerated into a battle of sound bites and obfuscation - of alluring words and clever lies. The 'informed' among us tell us that we have grown weary of negative advertising as they bombard us with same. The 'voices of clarity' tell us that we should focus upon the "issues" as they trot out quotes absent of context and personalities absent of facts that do nothing more than tear the candidates down by waging a war of political "gotcha". One issue voters are a lead weight upon democracy as they are easily swayed by the empty rhetoric of the campaigns of both major parties while possessing no informed knowledge to save themselves. But alas, there exists worse - and more prevalent than the one-track voter: there lives and breathes in this most influential of Countries the deliberately disengaged. It has been posited that ignorance is bliss - the biblical concept of "original sin" is the attempt of the acquisition of knowledge - and that may well be true. If knowledge is indeed sin then heaven must be crowded to bursting with the American electorate.
The 11th of September of the year 2001 was, to us, the day of the murder of innocents. Indeed, we have suffered a horrible collective tragedy at the hands of those who gave us death from on high. Should we follow their example and rain death upon those who took no part in that terrible event? What does this Nation stand for? What do we, as Americans, expect of our representatives? What, truly, do we expect of ourselves? If profligate murder is the consequence of our pain and our fear then we are on the right path, but if justice and the rule of law guide this Nation then we have gone oh so very badly astray. Look at our actions since that tragic day and compare them to those that we call evil. The invasion of Iraq brought us the term 'collateral damage'. Those are innocent lives, equal - fully equal - to the lives lost on our "day of tragedy": 9/11. Too many of our Sons and Daughters have fallen on the "field of honor" - as the cynical Men who put them in harm's way call that land of chaos and desperation that we helped to create. I do not seek to besmirch the sacrifices of our children for their duty to this Nation. I merely wonder where is the "honor" for an Iraqi child, weakened by the sanctions that rendered the land of his birth impotent, then killed by the awe-inspiring weapons of our self-righteous and misdirected anger? Those lives destroyed by our bombs and bullets are the sons and daughters, husbands and wives, children of a people who are striving to live. There exists few in this World who want to die. The Muslims in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, Muslim Asia and Africa are not a collection of people who all wear bomb packed belts, nor are they a people with a misguided belief in the attainment of heaven as the result of their self-destruction or who hold an innate hatred of western "freedom". The people of the Middle East and the World are, by and large, like us: they want to provide for their families, they hope to prosper, they crave personal freedom.
The primal question of many extant queries is: "who are we to dictate how these people in this region of the World are to live their lives?" One could also be driven to wonder if our wants and needs are worthy of the lives of 15,000 Iraqis - and counting...or even ONE? Why do we fight this war in Iraq? For our own security? Security: such a simple word to justify so much. Invasion, "shock and awe", collateral damage, interim government; all of these antiseptic words are euphemisms for death: lives lost, carnage, human destruction would describe the situation at least equally as well. However, for some reason such stark terms do little to fan the flames of American patriotism. Perhaps the reality of our actions shame us. If that is the case, then that is good, for it means that somewhere lost in our Nationalist blood frenzy there remains that too often neglected spark of humanity. Somehow we, the American people, must begin to reign in the darker impulses of this Nation before our precipitous actions inflame the World. The greatest tragedy among many is that, by and large, we suffer minimally for our mistakes, inattention and arrogance - for now. What we are and what we do, unfortunately, is someone else's nightmare...