OpEd: Guilt and the daily contribution to terror

Two years ago his sister was burned when she fell into the open cooking fire inside their mud hut. As he sat talking to to the US Army Special Forces Medic, he pleaded for help. One of his sister’s hands had been burned to stubs; her face left with visible scars. The young girl’s eyelids were no longer able to close; her family would place a cloth over her face at night so that she could sleep. There was no medical care available at the time of her accident; and now the damage was so severe that there was nothing that the Medic could do for her. Her fate was sealed.

Back home a group of people sits around a table at a local pub. They talk about politics, the problems of the world, the problems of America even though most have never left the country. As the conversation continues it strays to the new car, the house they want to buy, the cost of day care and Johnny’s private school. With the arrival of their food comes another round of beer as the conversations continue. At last the evening begins to wind down, as they pay their tab, say good night, and drive home to the comfort of a clean sheets, thermostatically controlled heat and the relaxing grip of a down filled pillow.

… the consequential politics of a spoiled nation.

The United States is currently in a period of doubt. We are asking the hard questions about our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, now that the threat of 9-11 seems a distant memory. We are quick to pass blame as a society, targeting the usual subjects of political and corporate figure-heads, while we fail to take a hard look at ourselves as citizens of a country, rather than individuals in a race to consume and hoard.

Wars begin by various motives, but are ultimately driven by economics. We live in a world of shrinking resources, and expanding global economies. The safety and security of the United States detaches us as a public from the hard truth that our consumptive lifestyle is not separate from conflict, but is in fact the very catalyst and principle driver. The hard truth is that there are consequences for consumption. We involve ourselves in countries militarily for economic reasons and we fortify our military might to ensure protection of our way of life. Soldiers are deployed directly by actions of our government and President, and indirectly by the consumptive actions of the 300 million citizens of the United States.

And while we continue to point the blame at the government it is not the problem, people are. After all, those in office are elected by the action or inaction of the vote. It’s all too easy to target the President as the fault of things we don’t like. It’s all too difficult to accept that our way of life breeds enemies, breeds hate and contempt for what we have. When you live around people that scrape daily to survive, you realize how much we have and how fortunate we are. Given the option I doubt any American would choose to live a daily life of an Afghan. Sadly, passing the buck has become more than a trend, it has become a way of life in the United States. After all, we will change a presidency over the cost of gas, but continue to buy our SUVs.

From within our bubble of safety and idealistic visions of the world spring forth aberrations of truth that marginalize the harsh realities the exist outside of our boarders. No matter how much new age love is extended to the world, there are the many that will still hate you. They hate you for what you have, for what you represent, for what you deny them… and they seek only one thing… the total destruction and subjugation of the United States to the wills and ways of a vanguard of extremists leading this new era of fight.

As our debates rage on, they constantly emanate from the place where an obsessional fear of being hated is put in conflict with a fear of losing what we have. So the discussions lash out with misdirection taking target at the easy prey of soldiers, politicians, and government, while ignoring our responsibility as citizens. Face it, you can’t have all that you have and want without consequences. If you want change, look no further than yourself,… it’s a process that begins every morning when you look in the mirror.

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