|Let's Rethink This with Better Brains
31 March 2003
I was talking to a friend tonight who was wondering how to do herself in as things continue to turn for the worst. She awakens at night in a cold sweat with guilt and terror. She feels that she cannot know what is going on. Paralyzed, she curls into a ball and wishes for death. I have another friend who has believed as long as I have known her that humans are a blight on the planet. She has spent her life in shame, gardening baby's tears, trying but never succeeding to look away from the harm we do, have done, are doing, will continue to do - unless something changes.
I am amazed to find that, for the first time in my life, I trust no news source. I trust neither BBC nor NPR, and certainly not Fox, sweeping the ratings as they are with their you-are-there-and-this-is-better-than-reality-TV reporting. I absolutely don't know what is in the minds of our President and his merry band. The explanatory theories all seem to break down. Oil companies seem happy to do business with stable dictators. The Iraqui people are not, it seems, welcoming their "liberators" with open arms. Saddam and Osama seem to be mortal enemies. It is said that as many as10,000 Muslims and Arabs have crossed from relatively safe soil to fight in Iraq against what can only be characterized as an invasion by the United States.
As a student of Celtic culture, I have stories which may or may not be believed as one's narrative intelligence dictates, that once upon a time, before the coming of the Romans (do you feel like a Roman just about now?), chieftains met on the battlefield person to person with broadswords, and that the community was represented in their single combat. Would that it were so today.
It seems that Mr. Bush is a true believer, but the readings of his inner compass are inedecipherable. My best friend compares Mr. Bush to Mr. Truman. A fatal difference is that Mr. Truman, in the mid-twentieth century, went after what he saw as a localized infection and attempted to lance the boil. Metaphorically speaking, we are way beyond bacteria and way into virus. The infection is everywhere, and it is in us as well as the Islamic Jihad and Al Quaeda. Its name is Violence.
I teach and know people from all over the world who want to devote their life energies to ending the madness had progressively infected the human race since the beginning of history. Maybe it was better when we were 99.9% chimp and not the mere 98.5% that we are today. But in each of our brains there is at least an idea of the Good and the possibility of working toward it. A working definition of the Good has been muddled by biology, habit, custom, narrative, and Strongmen throughout recorded time, and yet the idea persists. We hang onto it by a gossamer thread of awareness that apparently exceeds the evolutionary rating of our brains. Go figure. Maybe this awareness is magic. Most certainly this awareness is sacred. This awareness is what has made us bother to go on, to care for our young, to feed the hungry and nurse the sick, to ruminate on world peace, to imagine life among the stars.
Knowing that we cannot know the answer until we know the question is a sign of intelligence. We don't know what is going on in Iraq or why. Everyone from my dental hygenist to the grocery store clerk has expressed that view. But the ability to imagine a world at peace (John Lennon, you are with us now) is a mighty thing. How disproportionately our values are reflected in our Congress! How ashamed we are in front of the world, when the voices of our so-called leaders are mistaken for our own!
I can't tell the military what to do. I can't tell the government what to do. Certainly, no one can tell the President what to do; for if he were listening, he would most certainly have heard by now that this war is not the way that We the People want to move toward the future, published polls notwithstanding. It depends on how you ask the question.
So here is my question. Do you believe that humans are capable of resolving differences and disempowering tyrrany through non-violent means? And, do you believe it's worth it to try? If not, then maybe it's a good idea to woof that lethal cocktail of valium and whisky right now.
If your answer is yes, then do something about it. In this moment, it is imperative that our erstwhile "leaders" be removed from their posts through our democratic process. We must exercise those rights guaranteed by our Constitution to remove a leader who runs amok. We must listen to the dictates of our ethical selves right now, to call a halt to the demented affair in Iraq. Full stop. I might go on about Palestine or the undeveloped world or the craziness implicit in religious fundamentalism or the theory that maybe we should just make contracts with dictators and ship them Disney films, but those are questions that come next. What comes now is, this has to stop. This. Has. To. Stop. We the People must make this stop.
Stop, breathe, a little water and food, new thoughts surging through the infosphere, and I'm betting that many people in many places are smart enough to figure out that elusive third alternative. That is the definition of Hope.
Impeach George Bush, for acting against the spirit of Democracy and against the fragile, hard-built infrastructure of global law and civility. Impeach George Bush for violating the spirits of all who fought and died to define and defend Freedom and Democracy as we who are patriots have always believe in it. Impeach George Bush for being dangerously stupid. This misadventure makes Monica's blue dress look like something out of a fairy tale.
We're not done until we're done. Keep faith, keep working, and stop the bleeding before you worry about how to heal the wound. Write to everyone in Congress. Write to the newspaper. Write in the sky. This is not my war, this is not my colonial adventure, and I'll be damned if I'll let my country's name be attached to it without objection. Let us put democracy to the test. Let's revoke the license of the man at the wheel.
Many of my friends fought in Vietnam. My heart was with them, as it is with those who fight in Iraq today. Some died. Most returned to spend their lives in perpetual struggle against both battle stress and the horrible sense that no one knew what they were doing there. Many have lost that fight as well. May we not do this to yet another generation. Stop and think. What does it mean to protect and serve? Surely not this. Not this.