The headline story on the Washington Post's early Sunday edition looks even worse in big red font on the home page. I can't stand it, and I don't really know what to do about it, except to say that over and over again. I'm lucky to live in peace and comfort, but is that acceptable when other people are dying in ditches? It's been bothering me more and more lately, and the fact that it's become background noise bothers me more than I can say. It's not even really discussed in terms of the upcoming elections. People would rather obsess about some loser's dirty IMs or sexual orientation, because it suits their reality tv-driven ethos. It's ridiculous.
I started reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien again, because my friend reminded me of it, and I decided that I wanted to remember what truth about war sounded like, at least through one man's fictional recount. It's also a great book, and if you haven't read it, I recommend that you do. It goes fast, actually, and I think it's nice common reading for most of us who have been conscious during the last part of the 20th century and the pathetic beginning of this one.
Here are some of the people who have died, according to the Post. And I know countless more have been wounded short of death, but still in life-altering ways, both physical and psychological. I go to the movies or out to dinner down in Silver Spring now and it seems I see so many guys from Walter Reed (I'm assuming) in various states of disarray - limbs blown off, bandages on their heads, wheelchair-bound. Their families take them out I guess, when they visit, and I know they're returned military. And some of them are really messed up. It's so sad. I see the pride and there's every attempt on my part not to stare at them because really, I'm assuming so much about them, because that's what the human inclination is - assumption. Maybe they were in an accident? Maybe they just happen to look like Army? I don't know...It's hard, and it's touchy, and every time I see one of them I think that I should just be glad he made it home alive, but then I see what bad shape he's usually in physically and it makes me sick. Because here was a strong, healthy person and now he has to go through life in a wheelchair. But I really don't question anyone's right to stand up for whatever it is they want to stand up for. There's a chance that that guy might have a real problem with me and my lefty politics, and consider himself better off than me on some level. It's hard to tell.
I have to admit that when I heard the politicians offering condolences to the families of the kids who died in the recent school shootings, I had a moment where I thought, "You mindfully send young people off to die every day. Where is your compunction for that? No, a crazy person should NEVER go into a school and harm innocent people, but neither should we be bankrolling death and fueling murderous rage towards our own citizens or anyone else." And I retracted it in my head at the time because it sounded harsh, and because I didn't want to confuse the very sad and important issue about these kids who died here, but it keeps echoing for some reason. Idealist and pacifist that I am, I don't want any kids to die. I don't want community college kids to get sucked in by recruiters who are always on campus, when maybe they're on the track to be the first kid in their family to work straight through and graduate without a debt to pay to the U.S. military that is NOT currently compulsory. That's not for me to decide, though, and it's not something that I think will change anytime soon. It's just sad, and seems more than a little pointless at this juncture, and I'm not sure what anyone is interested in doing to stop it or change it at a level where that might still be able to occur.
I do believe that there is still a lot of great and wonderful good in the world, but I just wish that these foreboding red headlines weren't necessary, and that we lived in a world where we could talk openly about just what a shame that not only has this turned out to be, but always was.