Saturday, January 22, 2005

The Urge of the Boddhisatva

Listening to: Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand

Before I get started, I want to lay out a couple of disclaimers. First of all, if you're a supporter of the Iraq war, you're not going to like this post. However, if you have an open mind or maybe, if you're having your doubts about how things are going over there and your support is flagging, maybe this post will be the push you need.

Secondly, I have tried to keep this blog apolitical (since I also keep a political blog for airing my decidedly left-of-center views) but sometimes my passions overwhelm my sense of discretion. Tonight, I was moved to the point where my resolve was broken down because I was so affected, as a father, by the image I saw while surfing a diary at Daily Kos.

I write this as a loving father, not an idealogue.

The photo is of a 10-year old girl whose her parents were shot to death by US soldiers when the car she and her family were in failed to stop at a checkpoint.

As you can see, the girls hands are dripping with blood, presumably the blood of her dead parents. You can also see the sheer terror on her face. I want - so badly - to pick her up, cradle her in my arms, to weep with her; I want to take her pain away, my pain is the knowledge that there is absolutely nothing I can do for her, no way to comfort her.

This past week I have had scant sleep because my own children have been so sick, I have been hyper-aware of every cough, every groan, every cry in the night. There is no doubt that I'm over-protective. One of these days I'll be called upon to comfort heartache and I'm dreading that moment. The futility of not being able to rebuild a shattered self-esteem, the awareness that a broken bone will mend but a broken heart leaves a lasting scar - as a father of young children, I am an automatic hero but I know that one day my powers will be worthless.

As a father, I cannot help but be profoundly moved by the look of incredible confusion and fear on that little girl's face. Yes, my heart also goes out to the children (and spouses and parents) of our soldiers in Iraq. However, the children of our fallen soldiers didn't watch their parents being ripped to pieces by bullets. The horror that little girl experienced is incomprehensible. I would not wish it on anyone.

Selfishly, I pray that my own children will never know that kind of terror or confusion or pain. Oh, my kids will know pain and fear and hopefully, they'll learn from their moments of darkness.

----- AFTERTHOUGHT -----

There is no doubt in my mind that some mindless troll will comment that I "hate my country" or that I "don't support the troops". Those comments amaze me. The country I grew up learning about, respecting, pledging my allegiance to, was a country where all points of view were honored and respected. Freedom of speech was not only a right but an obligation, especially when one believed the country had strayed from its principles. The current practice of dismissing voices who oppose the President and his war as "un-American" or "giving comfort to the enemy" is gutless and intellectually impoverished; it is also, um, un-American. The framers of the Constitution recognized that freedom of speech was a necessary obstacle to tyranny.

I have no problem with people who support President Bush and/or the Iraq war. However, I have no patience for those who dismiss my considered and conscientious point of view with dishonest, cowardly, and ultimately baseless ad hominem attacks.


JenL said...

In the pic...what is being pointed toward the little girl's head? Do you know?

Nino the Mindboggler said...

A gun.

There's another version of this picture (it's the same photographer), you see a shoulder off to the girl's right. Of course he's armed, although I don't think he's aiming his rifle at the girl, keeping his gun on her. I think the gun is at rest.

JenL said...

Ok, that's what I feared.

Scary image. Having trouble processing it, really, given my dependence on "sterilized" information.