...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003
      ( 4:15 PM )
Mama Meanders...
Warning: This post is a long, introspective observation of myself. Just what a blog is for…but maybe a bit boring for anyone else but me. Feel free to skip this one, folks. I did it mostly just because I needed to.

I have been trying to figure out how to express the thoughts going through my head since last night. I guess that’s what a blog is for. Part of me wants to sort the myriad of thoughts and feelings and figure out exactly what I think, and part of me wants to just leave it all a-jumble and not deal with it. But I’m too introspective to let it lie, and I know that. It would just keep bugging me. It’s like how I’d like to know exactly why I cried as I listened to that speech last night. Was it because I’m a girl and girls cry easily? Was it because I’m 10 months into being a mama and mamas cry easily? Was it because I could only think of death and destruction, and that just generally causes crying? Was it because I missed my brother – and felt the loss of not knowing where he is or how he is doing? Was it because it’s the first time I’m dealing with a war as an adult – and understanding more makes you cry? Was it because I was angry? Probably all of that contributed to my general crying-ness last night.

But in the cold light of day (with only 38 hours to go – if the 48 hours started at the speech. But the 48 hours could have started this morning, I’m not really sure.), I realized this morning that it’s easier for me to dissect it chronologically, in order to more easily digest my own history and feelings on the matter. In my own mind, I've gone chronologically “war” by “war.”

Vietnam: I was born during Vietnam. My father served in Vietnam as an aircraft maintenance officer. He never talked about it. Finally when I was about 23, I directly asked him “what do you remember about Vietnam?” And his answer: “lots of white birds in the sky whenever a bomb went off.” I gradually learned a number of horrible things he had experienced and witnessed and why he kept the white birds as his prominent memory - and I did a lot of my own reading on the subject. But it was still removed from me – like history.

Cold War: I spent a bulk of my childhood overseas in Asia and the Pacific – so much of my elementary-school memories include ducking-and-covering in the event of (a) a hurricane; (b) a tornado (this involved ducking and covering in the hallway, rather than under desks); (c) an earthquake; and (d) a nuclear bomb. I often wondered, as a curious 10-year-old, how powerful the duck-and-cover really was. Luckily, I only experienced two of them in Japan; one tornado and one earthquake. I remember when I was 12, I was deathly scared of nuclear war, nuclear fallout, nuclear everything. My mom didn’t even let me watch “The Day After” because she knew it would totally freak me out. Still “war” itself was removed – men actually fighting didn’t occur to me. “War” meant total, instantaneous, painful annihilation.

Various South American Campaigns, Grenada: I was a kid – and though I remember the headlines, had no emotional or intellectual connection or understanding of what went on. When I learned later as an adult all that had happened, I was mad as hell, but felt powerless because again…it was history already.

Invasion of Panama: High School Senior. Watched the news and saw soldiers playing loud rock music to ferret out Noriega. I didn’t learn until almost 8 years later that not only were the charges against him all pre-1984 (when he became our Boy in the contra dealings), but that US troops killed possibly thousands of civilians in their raids, and that after Noriega left Panama, people continued to be abused, disappeared, executed, etc. So much for installing democracy there. Again, though, at the time, I didn’t really perceive what had happened in a real life context. It was on the t.v. – and then, it was history.

Persian Gulf War: This I clearly remember. I was 20 years old when “Desert Shield” became “Desert Storm.” I had no real, focused opinion about it except that I was marginally attached to the situation by virtue of my father being stationed to Command Headquarters at the Pentagon at the time. I remember being surrounded constantly by yellow ribbons and American flags. I remember the bold t-shirts and the constant tv coverage (stayed up every night to see Arthur Kent, of course.) But it was over so quickly – and no one ever really talked about the dead, and all we ever saw were those video game bombing pictures. And no one ever really said anything about “victory.” I don’t recall actually being for or against it – just sort of watching it. I think I felt patriotic, but not out of any support for the action itself, more of a support for the troops kind of thing. It was abstract, and even though I was 20, I was in college, and adulthood was only sporadically part of my life at the time. But over the next 12 years I developed definite opinions about it. I don’t remember any anti-war protests, but I now know many who were part of them. I wish I had known - I wish I had paid more attention.

Balkans: My first experience at being outraged at the action/in-action of my country. I didn’t understand what the hell we were doing, and I boldly spoke my mind to anyone who would listen. Mostly people didn’t care. It didn’t really hit their radar screens, even with constant stories about the dead, tortured, abused, etc. I felt like the whole thing sort of faded away, and no one really ever truly paid attention. In reality, though, I think it was more of an academic thing for me - I was emotionally affected, but not really attached to the reality of it all. I was enraged, but not to the point where I really did anything effective.

Rwanda: More rage at our inaction. Was it racism this time that kept us from stopping this genocide?

Somalia: I didn’t truly understand the politics and history behind what happened there till I read about it years later. I remember being horrified at what happened – and I remember it being the catalyst for not interceding in other countries. Yet we continued to bomb Iraq in the “no-fly zones.” I began to feel confused and to try and pay more attention to the various "foreign policies" of our country.

Kosovo: My first experience with two factors together: my own brother being involved in the military action, and my being against the American bombing of the country. I felt quite conflicted because I was proud of my brother and I knew he was serving his country, but I was very much in disagreement that the wholesale bombing taking place was necessary. For the first time, I accessed independent media for my news, and I paid attention to everything that happened. For the first time I actively protested the actions of my government in an intervention situation. I wasn’t as scared for my brother, at that time he was not on the front lines, but I worried for his psyche if he were to know whether or not he’d contributed to the killing of innocents. He never knew if he was, and I was glad for that.

Afghanistan: I was absolutely against the rush into bombing this country in response to 9/11. Our “installing democracy” again seems to have come to a fizzling end with no one paying attention to the fact that we dropped the ball and don’t care because we started our own new game. Brother Jon once again served in “Operation Enduring Freedom,” but again, though he was there, he was in the back lines and I wasn’t as worried about him. I actively protested the US action, and I actively and publicly dissented. But I don't remember feeling as much conflict, I think because up until about 6 months ago, I was very determinedly against the whole "war on terror" thing and felt strongly enough about it that my emotions centered on anger, dismay, cynicism, etc. I was not yet a mother.

Now. I feel so much more emotion. I think because of the combination of all the things together: my anger about the policies, my disgust with the way we ignore the rest of the world, my fear for the soldiers, my fear for the Iraqis, my worry that we will carry on this policy of “pre-emptive war” on any country we deem “pre-emptible;” my fear that we won’t carry on this policy and we’ll be seen for the oil/money-grubbing-“let’s-distract-them-from-that-war-on-terror-we’re-never-going-to-win” leech that our government is, my concern about what kind of world my child is going to grow up in, my determination to continue protesting, and sometimes my total ambivalence.

In the end, I guess for everyone it’s a situation of blundering through the best we can. However we deal with each moment as it happens is however we deal with it. No one is right or wrong in how they feel, they just feel that way. If you’re angry one moment, cynical the next, joking the next, sad and crying the next – it’s all a part of experiencing it instead of retreating from it. I think that bloggers have an advantage in that they are used to experiencing instead of retreating. In that way, the blogosphere may handle the weight of what is to come much better than the outside world, and for that reason I’m really glad I’m here. It sort of feels like there’s a net beneath me – I can jump off the cliff of exploring the various things that pop into my mind and know that I will land softly on my blog and I’ll bounce back up again.

How was that for introspection? Now, back to our regularly programmed show…

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