Iraq Is NSFW

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2005/08/23/iraq_gallery/index.html

I was actually surprised that the gallery wasn’t worse than it was. War is nasty, grotesque, horrific. One of the key reasons that so many Americans turned against the Vietnam war was that it was the first time that the blood and guts were shown every night on prime time news (and there were only 4 channels.) I remember watching the news at night, I was close to draft age, and thinking how in the hell would I ever handle walking through a jungle knowing that someone might cut or blow my head off in the next 10 seconds.

It wasn’t that long ago that some news agency was attacked for showing the graphic scenes after a bus bombing in Israel. Parts of bodies everywhere. And I won’t ever be able to purge my mind of the photo of the mother in northern Iraq that was part of the town “cleansing” by gas: she was laying in a horrible shape, bloated, holding her dead child, a little girl about 2 or 3, like she was trying to shield her, and the little girl still has her eyes open wide as if she can’t comprehend what is happening.

Damn. Someone show some photos of cute puppies.

Just for you Jeff.

http://images.google.com/images?q="cute%20puppies

You’re a good man, Brian. ;)

As I get older I have to fight the weariness and cynicism that threatens to dominate my thoughts. You see the pain and suffering of wars, the people on all sides who politicize the hell out of it for personal gain and power at the same time that a person, with a lifetime of hopes and dreams, lies dying on a dirty street, people watching their children starve to death while we throw out plates of food every meal, and on and on and on.

Then I see a note on my college age son’s blog that makes me smile and realize how great he’s turned out, a hug from a daughter, a champagne toast with my wife as we look back at 25 years of marriage, a person at work coming in my office and, rather than griping, telling me thank you for making a difference in their life, and I realize we have to take our hope and faith where we can find it. Try to find some small part of our world that we can make a little better.

Sorry folks, just my age showing this morning. :)

That’s not a bad way of looking at things. I suppose my thinking is largely a product of what I’ve been and seen over the years myself. Seems to me that, crazy as it sounds, we’re responsible for what our government does. That means when it does something bloodyminded or foolish we’re all responsible. Our ruler isn’t some King there by virtue of divine right whom we can ignore because there’s nothing to be done about it. The whims of our country are our whims and we are all judged by them.

For reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me, honestly, I take this stuff more personally than is really practical. But it gets me reading, writing and voting so maybe it’s not all a waste of time.

Nah, Brian, you sound like you’ve got your act together. I fear most people feel that if something doesn’t intrude directly on their life (and their comforts) then they may debate it and argue about it at work, but then who cares if they can still watch American Idol and eat a hot dog when they get home? We let our Washington get away with everything, we don’t hold anyone there truly accountable for looking out for the good of the country. Pork in the energy bill? Yeah, boy that sucks, but hey we got our cool bike paths or pothole repairs or tiddley winks hall of fame. Hey, I’ll just let ABC news or CNN or Fox tell me what I should think. Millions massacred in Africa? Hmm, never really saw that on the front page of USA Today, so how important can it be?

I think it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the information that is out there; intimidated by complexities. Nobody wants to look foolish so they just tune things out and the extent to which politics matter has to do with chatting around the watercooler with folks who mostly agree with you anyhow about what you heard on stations or saw on websites that also tell you all how smart you are and how better you are than the other side. It’s not intellectual discourse, it’s rooting for a team. And in my biased opinion, if your team says God’s on your side and claims to want to give you free money (tax cuts) then you’re going to be very motivated to not look at any other side of the issues.

But I do cuss and call people stupid, even if I know better, and there’s often a silent “asshole” tacked onto the ends of my posts like those “in bed” addendums to the fortunes plucked out of Chinese cookies. That said, I kinda understand that most people just don’t have room to do all the homework, there are only so many hours in the day after all, so they just look around and respond to what their peers are saying.

And alot of folks who do like arguing politics really just like arguing and politics, man, that’s the easy way to get a fight started. Some people, and my archconservative old PR professor confessed to this, just adopt hard to defend political views because it’s a vindication of how smart they are when they win arguments. “If conservatives had run the campus when I was in school I’d have become a liberal.” Smirk. But it was very hard not to like this guy even when he was handing out his “Rules of Lying” on the last day of class ( #7) Always have a backup lie in mind for when you get caught) or bragging his days working for a chemical plant after a spill and how he got the press and locals eating out of the palm of his hand. Seriously, there’s much more of this mindset than you’d think out there and it explains alot of the seeming inconsistencies on the right.

Still, you’re right, most people just feel like it’s out of their hands and they’re too busy to care that much or, perhaps, they’ve got too many immediate things to be concerned about. I don’t know what you do. Maybe the answer, at least for my portion of the problem, is this new left-leaning coalition to fund our own think tanks and leadership programs. I just hope we have a bit more intellectual integrity and I’m not left having to second guess even more disinformation than I am now. It’s interesting, and I feel oddly compelled to do it, but it can get overwhelming even to me. Just trying to sort out Al Qaida and the middle east had me buying books and reading up like crazy for months. I still don’t completely understand the internal dynamics of Iraqi politics after months of trying to read as much as I can find - they’re constantly surprising me. And I’ve got the free time to do this. How many other people do? And how good a job does the media do of really helping people understand the deeper structures and dynamics of the situations our country is getting itself into?