I was a good boy. The kind of boy every parent would love. I did everything I was told as a child and even believed everything my parents told me.
As I look back now, fear was just as much a part of the equation as anything else—fear of what my father might do if I questioned him. Consequently, my rebellion came later than most, in my early 20s. I can remember a few times I inhabited the other side of the tracks when I was young. But for the most part, I was just a good kid, thinking and doing everything that was expected of me. It was easy to see the world as black and white.
• • •
I never read the editorials in the Washington Post. My mornings start early and the new realities of the each day are often too much to absorb at 5:30 am. I deserve 30 minutes of peace and quiet. But as I scanned the paper this morning my eyes stopped on the Op-Ed headline: “The Case for Action.” Immediately it clued me into their position and I was somehow surprised by it. But I was eager to know their justifications for a war that will ironically be known as GW II.
I have mixed emotions about this whole affair. It forces me to once again acknowledge the world is not black and white. Navigating its shades of gray and searching for an opinion to voice is hard. Arriving at the truth is next to impossible. Arriving at a humane solution is even more so.
Even if it’s lawful, is the war the right course? …Is Iraq genuinely a threat to U.S. security, and must it be dealt with now?
The Post thinks so, for many of the reasons we’ve heard the Administration voice over the last few months.
Senior Bush’s strategy of containment failed. President Clinton’s shift from containment to regime change failed to materialize. And so, forced to consider the new realities of terrorism, “rogue” nations defying international law, and being hit where it hurts on 9/11, we find ourselves once again on a dangerous precipice.
I’ve always thought of war as antithetical to human experience. Silly me. I made the mistake of assuming that we are an evolved species. Recently I heard a researcher on genocide wonder how, after so many years, we still had not learned to stop killing each other. I wonder that too.
In order to find that place to reside I have to accept the premise that we are not as mature and rational a species as I would like. This is not a justification for going to war. Rather, it’s a stand that allows me to process war and killing as part of this world.
I can’t help but think of Klaatu’s departure speech in the 1950s science fiction film classic The Day the Earth Stood Still:
I am leaving soon. And you will forgive me if I speak bluntly. The universe grows smaller every day and the threat of aggression by any group, anywhere, can no longer be tolerated. There must be security for all, or no one is secure.
Now this does not mean giving up any freedom. Except the freedom to act irresponsibly. Your ancestors knew this when they made laws to govern themselves and hired policemen to enforce them…
It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet. But if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of your’s will be reduced to a burned out cinder.
Your choice is simple. Join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration. We shall be waiting for your answer. The decision rests with you.
I’m still questioning. But I’m no longer afraid to do so, despite the frightening rhetoric of politicians and the inhumanity of despots everywhere. This decision rests with me.