Tuesday, October 02, 2007

War, What is it Good For?

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.


Eve said...

I'm with you...I get so tired of it all, feeling like nothing you do matters, and that no politician is honest. It's so disheartening.

Kyla said...

"Just a Hollywood version of the real thing."

That is it. Exactly. It is no more real than watching Saving Private Ryan, in fact, it is probably even less real.

How do you fix something like that?

Becky said...

this is an awesome post and totally struck a chord with me cuz its so true. we know we're at war but do we really live like we are? maybe a handful of people do but the rest of us dont.

Kellan Rhodes said...

Great post and I agree! I never thought about it like that - if we were actually sacrificing something ourselves that that might cause us to rile up or ... whole-heartedly support the "war". But ... you are right. Unless you have someone you know personally (like a son or father or brother ...) over there, it doesn't feel real, sometimes. It certainly does not feel like a "war" as we've been brought to understand what "war" should feel like. I agree - if I had to eat lard with yellow food coloring in it - I'd KNOW something was not quite right in my world!

Alexandra's World said...

One of my best friends, my college boyfriend, was killed in Iraq. I hate this stupid war. Why the hell are we over there?
Great post.

jen said...

Amen, honey.

Becc said...

Once again, life just moves on daily.
People don't see or truly feel the impact of this war or that we are at war at all.
We have now lost two and still have two over there. What are our chances that they will make it home for more than their "final journey"?

painted maypole said...

really thought provoking. it is so easy to just put it out of ourminds.

Left Coast Sister said...

It is hard to understand this time in our country, when the stakes are so high and yet it seems like apathy couldn't be greater.
It is amazing when you read of other wars, though, like WWII, when in the Battle of Normandy, there werew about 45,000 confirmed military deaths in just two and half months, not including the 12,000 civilians dead. And that war didn't even end all wars.
I wish there was a way to get more connected to this war and the reality of it. I just can't wrap my brain around it.

Queen of the Mayhem said...

What an honest and enlightening post!

It can be so disheartening....feeling like nothing we do matters! But we have to keep doing it....and SURELY one day...we will see the benefits!

Mamacita Tina said...

No kidding, we go on living our lives, not really knowing what is going on. But there is a war, and people are getting hurt or dying.

I don't have the answer. Does anybody have an answer? The best I can think of is try and explain our world to our children, make them aware of events when they are old enough.

Patriot said...

I am thankful for every soldier serving in Iraq. (and various places around the world protecting and defending this nation) The war on terror is an important thing, and I'm glad for those who will volunteer to fight it.

Also wanted to let you know about a giveaway at my site. It's for all-natural bath and body products from Texas. Come check it out! (and tell your friends!)

I don't get any money for this, I just want to see more attention given to products made in America!

Thank you!

Joan said...

Well, I'm glad to hear you say that, ma'am. I hate this stupid war, too. But I think that harkening back to the days of "the greatest generation" is really beside the point, mainly because the reasons for going to war and continuing the efforts at home and abroad were a HE!! of a lot more compelling. Okay, so we can't stop this attrocious and wasteful war we're in. (I have tried. I don't even drive a car, I bike everywhere. I have been protesting in Washington DC since before the war began, and also protested with Cindy Sheehan in Crawford TX outside Bush's ranch.) Nothing short of a coup or revolution is going to stop the imperial designs of those at the helm of our nation. I have accepted defeat. But, my friend, we ARE at war here in the domestic US, and must make sacrifices and change our way of life, much the way citiens did during WWII. And the war is against climate change. It poses more of a threat to you, me, our kids, and the entire WORLD than does terrorism. I know sometimes it feels like a losing battle, but leave it to the mother of 3 beautiful kids (you) to find hope and keep trying.