Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I should probably mention this post is L-O-N-G

*I just want to say, this post is long. Really long. Like a freaking novel long.
There were a lot of things going around in my head. The bottom line is we cannot forget that the war goes on and on and on. I recommend you read this post instead of mine, he says what I was trying to, but waaayyy better.

It’s hard to come up with things to write about, especially 4 times a week, most days I really have nothing to say, a fact clearly evidenced in my last post. Other times I have something to say, and a lot of it, but I’m either not sure how to say it or not sure if I ought to open my mouth. I try to keep it light here, what good would it do me to offend my half-dozen regular readers? Also, it’s my opinion that politics are best left at home. I’m probably not going to change your mind and you’re probably not going to change mine. I can live with that.

Most of the time.

I doubt I’m going to change anyone’s mind today, but I promised my brother I’d try to write 4 times a week, so this is what you’re getting today.

*Warning* It’s long, and opinionated, and frankly, at times, not exactly a straight route.

Over the weekend I read a book about conscientious observers during the Vietnam War, it was actually very interesting and it got me to thinking about my own son who is 18, draft age, and his ability to make combat type decisions when he barely seems to be able to make decisions about what to wear.

I was in the Army, I was 20 when I enlisted and I believe in defending the rights of not only the citizens of this country, but those who are not able to defend themselves. I believe in liberty and justice and the right to bear arms (to an extent). That said, there is, in my mind, a big difference between those who are unable to defend themselves and those who our government would like to see “democratized” so one hand can wash another. Then there is the whole, how does one (or a group of individuals) decide when it’s worth sacrificing lives in the defense of freedom, and how many lives before it’s not worth it anymore? (Don’t even get me started on the financial cost.)

Sunday morning I saw that there had been more bombings in Iraq, near the Green Zone where my father spent the better part of the last 5 years working for our government in an effort rebuild their military and infastructure. Many were dead and missing the story said. Later I read an article about D-day and the 3000 French civilians who were killed during the days leading up to the invasion as Allied forces bombed the area to prepare it. 3000 civilians.

By the end of the weekend I was feeling super uplifted and cheery.

Yesterday morning there was news of helicopters crashing in Afghanistan and the rising death toll from Iraq. Some days I read the news and I want to go back to bed. Maybe it’s because I was in the military, or because I grew up an Army Brat, or that I have sons who are, or soon will be, old enough to enlist. Maybe I'm just an overly sensitive emotional woman on the verge of menopause. Who knows, but I do think about it a lot. The military is not a bad life, but it is a different life, and I felt somewhat isolated from the rest of the world while I was part of it. When I think of soldiers past and present I am in awe of the sacrifices they make, usually on behalf of someone else. There are a few at the top making decisions, but the majority are just following orders. Sometimes they agree with those orders and other times they don’t but they still (usually) follow. Not all soldiers are brave, not all soldiers are upstanding citizens, but I happen to think most are.

After I read the draft book this weekend my husband and I had a conversation about war and being on the right side. The thing about war, the thing that keeps war going, is that BOTH sides think they're on the right side. Mothers in other lands love their sons just as much as I love mine and hope that the causes they fight for are just. Sometimes there’s no way of knowing until the dust clears.

My son is taking some crazy advanced government class at school and his teacher is having them do all of these assignments, you know, to get them to use their brains and have opinions of their own and to know WHY they feel the way they do about things. Quite a lofty undertaking for a high school teacher if you ask me, but it’s her headache, eh? Last night for homework he had to answer a questionnaire that would supposedly give him an idea of his political leanings.

I pause here to tell you that while I believe in leaving politics at home, if I happen to be at home, with people I trust (notice I did not say who “agree with me”) I will be more than happy to engage in a lively debate. I have actually seen my brothers argue quite convincingly for the other side, you know, for fun. I am also a huge advocate of my kids forming their own opinions and not taking mine or my husband’s or their friend’s as their own.

While he was answering his questions my son would stop every now and then to shoot one my way and ask my opinion. I’m proud (?) to say that some of that “use your own mind” crap must have sunk in, because there were several times he tried to convince me that my opinion was wrong. We might not agree on everything, but he got that debate gene from me, and that’s something right?

Today the headline that caught my eye was this; a man who has spent his adult years in either the military or other government service has resigned from his job because he believes that we, the United States of America, are doing more harm than good in Afghanistan. Read the article. It’s not a decision he came to lightly. He’s not a pacifist, he’s probably a Republican, and he thinks it’s time for us to admit we can’t fix things there.

Where the heck is she going with this, is that what you’re thinking? Or is anyone even still here?

I know that we all have a million day to day things that have immediate impact on our lives, like lead in face paint, the economy, and new i-phone apps. that consume our attention, but I feel that it is so very important that we remember that RIGHT NOW there are men and women in foreign lands fighting and dying for something that may or may not be right. And because those men and women made a choice to do that, my son won’t be forced to, and neither will yours. I don’t think we all need to make cookies or become pen pals with a soldier (though those are really nice things to do), but I think the least we can do is learn about and understand why they are being asked to be there, and if by some chance we have an opinion about it, maybe we can drop a line to someone in charge and ask them to please not forget that the conflicts we are involved in are not just ideas and charts, each and everyday men and women and children are dying on both sides, and if they wouldn’t mind could they make a plan to either get in and get it done or get the heck out, sooner rather than later. We don’t have to agree on the path, but I think we should all be able to agree that we need to stop wasting time and get on one.

Anywho, that’s what I’ll be doing this evening, instead of watching Fat Tracy whine her crazy self through another week of Biggest Loser, I’m going to write a couple letters. In all honesty, it will probably be less stressful.

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