Iím on my soapbox today. If you canít bear it, go read Dear Abby.
Someone said to me that 3,000 dead American service members in the Iraq War only seems tragic because modern Americans have no concept of what war is all about.
Much more startling to me than the notion that we donít have a concept of war is the belief that at any level in any human beingís mind 3,000 dead soldiers should be palatable.
When we, as a culture, can dismiss the deaths of 3,000 of our men and women with a shrug, no matter the justification of a war, weíve lost something within our selves. The very things that make us human.
Clinical-minded people who have no sons or daughters in harmís way remind us of how many we lost in this war and that, how many die in crime in Los Angeles every day, as if this somehow should negate the deaths of 3,000 service members in Iraq, and countless more until this thing is over. That untold hundreds of thousands died in some other conflict lessens neither their deaths nor those of the 3,000 most recently. Using mathematics to justify, soften, dismiss or otherwise desensitize us to death in war is the refuge of those without regard for human life.
When did we stop valuing our sons and daughters so much? When did human life become so cheap that we just throw numbers around like theyíre just digits on a calculator?
That modern people in first world nations have no concept of war is a bad thing? Itís what those millions died for in our First and Second World Wars. Those "wars to end all wars" paved the way, to some extent at least, that we would have no real concept of war anymore.
Somehow propaganda ministers and the rest of those who are at the top of the ivory tower in this country have twisted patriotism around to "either with us or against us" and we all know that if you repeat an untruth or even an opinion enough times, it becomes fact by default.
That 3,000 Americans are dead because of the conflict in Iraq is unacceptable. The Goebbels in Washington have brainwashed too many of us into thinking that if you oppose war you are against our soldiers, and thatís utter, absolute hogwash. If I believe that 3,000 dead is too many and the war should end, how in Godís name am I not supporting the troops? Itís the very essence of the statement!
Let me tell you something. I defy anyone to look in the eyes of a parent who has lost a son or daughter in Iraq and say, "Well, the Russians lost 5,000 a day during World War II."
You quantify my dead children that way, Iíll knock your lights out.
We have no concept of war in these modern times. Thatís because people like my father went and fought for it to be that way. Weíve let them down, as well as those who didnít come back, by continuing to fight wars. Politicians make wars, sons and daughters die in them, and quantifiers sit back and run spreadsheets without names, faces, lives, memories, baby photographs, wedding plans, dreams and smiles.
Iím not a pacifist. I believe in a strong military and a strong line of defense against whatever enemies we have. Iím not arguing the right or wrong of the Iraq conflict at this particular moment.
But I am preaching that if weíve no concept of war today and find 3,000 dead sons and daughter unacceptable, then weíre far more human than we used to be.