Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Birthday to Forget or Maybe Not

Happy Birthday? March 19th

It has been six years to the day since we woke to “SHOCK and AWE”. I remember it well, it is my birthday too. Though I am just a tad more than 6.

In that six years, more than 4200 US troops have died and who knows how many Iraqis have died. Millions of Iraqi citizens displaced. US troops killed in Afghanistan somewhere around 600-700. The trust of American Citizens in their government is low. Hope is high but mistrust is still ever present. Yet, we search for someone to keep our hopes up.

Whether it is a right-wing radio talk show host or a left-wing newsletter, we still want someone or something to trust and in which to hope.

We can't trust our our own senses: eyes, TV or newspapers; ears, radio. The media will give us what they think we want. So now we don't trust ourselves either. We research and we seek more information but who or what can we trust in our research. By reading or watching and listening to many sources we can hope to make a judgment.

A few days ago a picture ran in the NY Times newspaper showing a pipeline diverting water to a mine in one extremely dry place in Chile where the towns and villages are “drying up”, people leaving. On the same front page was the article about AIG paying those bonuses. There was greed in both picture and text. Actually greed did not seem a strong enough word anymore. (NY Times, Mar 15, 2009)

Then too we have the radio entertainer getting paid hundreds of millions to complain about how high the cost of replacing some part in his private jet while he tells his audience the government is raising his taxes and theirs. And they hope. The audience listens and hopes because they are still convinced they will be one of the very wealthy too. This audience has worked hard and they deserve to be rich. If the government will just stay out of their way, they will be in the top income percentages soon. They haven't made bad decisions they deserve to be rich.

We have young people with no health insurance unless not so rich parents, or sometimes grandparents, can pay for it: we see tent cities in the US: we see long lines of people seeking jobs, any job; we see the working-poor losing their homes or close to it. People are hungry here in the US. Actually people have been going hungry in the US for quite a while but not so many as to get any real attention. People have been living in cars and on the streets for years but they must have made poor decisions.

All the while our Congress argues about increasing Americorps, argues about changing bankruptcy laws to cover residences not just vacation homes. Congress continuously argues about who is to blame for what problem. Congress legislating after the fact and never trusting themselves or us. Deregulation was not really about trust. Absence of regulation is not the presence of Trust. There will always be greed.

Perhaps all we can do is try and hope. If you are a religious person, maybe you pray. If you are a spiritual person maybe you pray. Though our religious institutions are in doubt. We heard things from political leaders about praying and God talking to them. A President of the US said God told him to go into Afghanistan and Iraq. We heard from some religious leaders about the coming of the end or not. Some religious leaders told us it is OK to kill in the name of God. Of course this was not the first time religious leaders told people or rulers it was OK but that was history and this is the 21st Century surely not the same. Surely we have come further or have we?

Read these documents and for partial answers. The first two are different explanations of “Just War”. The third is a file of American War and Military Operations Casualties prepared for Congress and last update shown was 2008.

The past 6 years have been interesting but let's find other interests, please. It is spring maybe we can try gardening or birdwatching. There are so many beautiful things still in this world let us look around. That is all it takes and maybe we can help others see the beauty too.

We can take pictures. We can paint pictures. We can write poetry. We can make movies. We can write music. We can write stories. We can talk. We can teach. But we don't need to use “Shock and Awe” to get a point across.

So just a Birthday to you Iraq War, “Iraqi Freedom” ? (and me too) I hope I don't ever awaken to another birthday like that one 6 years ago. And I wish everyone a better year.

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