Thursday, January 8, 2009

Articles and Thoughts

My work is still in a lull, I'm still sitting in my office for hours with nothing to do.
I've been reading articles.
I don't claim a firm or detailed grasp on the complexities of the situation in Israel and Gaza. There is obviously a lot of historical and political knowledge I lack, and the more I read the more my mind is thrown into a frenzy. I never know what to think or what to believe.

Despite this haze of confusion...I'm just having one of those days where I'm feeling the weight of it all. How did we get here? What could motivate a person to support some abstract sense of state, or country or group identity that overrides any inborn and personal sense of mercy and humanity? How can anyone get so riled up into hatred that they literally don't care if they are hitting the correct target--if they are killing civilians or armed combatants?

I'm not trying to make a blanket judgment of all military endeavors.
I do think, for the most part, servicemen and women in all countries can be motivated by good desires (service, duty, patriotism). but I also feel like we throw around the same patriotic language ("serve the country") all the time, without stepping back and realizing the gritty and morally complex realities that this service entails. Such attractive, idealistic diction does not shed light on any of the complexities of combat. "serve the country" could mean "launch a missile" or it could mean "fire at a suspicious vehicle" ---and all of this without any guarantee that these things won't result in tragic civilian causalities because of misinformation, or propaganda, or whatever else (poor leadership, maybe). and...I suppose morality might, in this specific example, be linked to intention. but just because someone is not morally damned by their actions--does not negate the devastating side-effects of involvement in this kind of violence on all parties. not just on the dead, the wounded, the suffering. but hundreds of soldiers with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder. plagued with these memories for a lifetime--wondering if they did the right thing. who they killed. to what ultimate end (which might be different from the intended end or the stated end) these acts were perpetrated.

These questions are agonizing to me! I don't know how to reconcile them...

In my office we often decorate for major (and minor) holidays. This month we have paper snowflakes on the walls, and today we put up a few things to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Including an "I have a dream" poster with spaces for everyone to write their own dreams down (side note: I often reflect on that fact that my office operates a bit like an elementary school classroom).
I wrote some silly thing about utopian communes, and tribal fire dances and hammock weaving.

But here is a real dream: that one day people can move past their divisive sense of tribal loyalty and be united, instead, by a common humanity.

Don't think I am naive. I know, especially in relation to the Israel/Palestine conflict, that there is a lot more to it than that. I just wish it could happen. I really do.

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