I was watching Real Time With Bill Maher (please don't hate him, he isn't the Antichrist, just a comedian who pissed off a bunch of lactivists) last weekend and in the beginning of the program, he was talking about WWII and "The Greatest Generation" and how people in our country at that time knew we were at war and acted accordingly.
By acting accordingly, I mean they did without.
They bought war bonds, and quit buying cars. They drew lines on the backs of their legs to simulate nylons because there weren't any real pantyhose to be had. They were given butter in the form of a bag of "lard" with a little packet of yellow coloring to mix in so it looked like real butter. They stocked up on necessities and conserved every last little thing they could.
I am sure the general atmosphere, judging by the stories I've been told by people who lived during that time, was completely different than it is now - and that troubles me.
It troubles me because although the news gives us a glossy version of losses and gains (according to them) each night, it does little to let us know what is truly going on. We all know that if they did attempt to give us a clearer picture of the war, it wouldn't be accurate anyway, just what they wanted us to see and hear. Just the images that would evoke strong emotions either way they'd like us to lean, at the current moment. Just a Hollywood version of the real thing.
We know this because the people who fought in WWII and Vietnam are still alive. They are alive, and talking because now, as they grow nearer to the end of their lives, they know that there is no need to be silent any longer. Stories are emerging. Tragic, raw, horrible and yes, sometimes incredibly difficult stories to share, but they are sharing them. Thank god they are sharing them. I cannot imagine the strength it must take for some of these individuals to dredge up the past that they've shoved way down low for so many, many years. I cannot imagine being the daughter of one of these veterans and hearing, for the first time, what my father or mother went through, the horrors they witnessed, the friends they lost and the lives they could not save.
So many of us are shocked when we hear of yet another memorial for a fallen soldier, another father, son, husband, friend lost in this unnecessary war.
But how does it affect us, really, if we don't personally know someone over there, fighting?
Problem is, that it doesn't, not the way that it should.
We say that it does. And yes, my heart bleeds for others, but does it change anything? Does it force me to picket and protest and change my oil consumption? A little, but not enough.
It is simply not enough.
We aren't doing enough.
And I know the issue is so big, bigger than anything and bigger than a simple answer, which is what I seek. It is bigger than all of us. I just wish that something would make me feel like the little things I do count. I wish that my vote counted, instead of merely contributing to the game of politics. I wish that all the recycling I do would count. I wish that standing up for the things that I believe in would count. I wish that I felt like we were at war, as awful as that may be, because if I felt like we were at war, than maybe I would think twice about all that toilet paper I buy at Costco, all those water bottles we drink each week, all the energy that we use keeping our house cozy and warm.
Because it is all connected, I believe, and if we all felt like we were at war, and acted accordingly, like those before us did, than maybe, just maybe, we'd make a difference. And maybe, just maybe, it would end.