Sunday, August 14, 2005

I am a coward.


Years ago, I was so close to joining the Marines. It was actually, believe it or not, a dead watch battery. I missed my appointment to take the test and the recruiting office was closed by the time I realized my watch wasn't working. I left a note, but I'm guessing they're not interested in slackers who can't tell time, or they'd seen enough people chicken out that they believed I was just another one of them. There was still some concern on my part because my summer break wouldn't be long enough for Marines boot camp, but I figured I'd figure that out later.

They never called back, I really didn't pursue it.

Anyhow, tonight I called up the Week in Pictures and this was the first picture. I didn't look at it because I got busy and there it sat on the screen, covered by other programs while I ate dinner with my family and then put my little 14-month-old to bed. Then I came back out here and saw this picture. I just kept staring at it. There's another picture that I've kept on my computer at work and I look at it every so often, of a little girl, nine months old tugging at her dad's dog tags as he says goodbye before being shipped off. It's so hard to make sense of it all. Sometimes I wish I could just denounce war altogether as my friends Kevin and Allison do but that doesn't make sense either.

But I was staring at this picture tonight and I wanted to cry. I needed to cry. But I couldn't. This little boy probably couldn't really understand what was going on. And possibly, hopefully, he's too young to really understand that he'll never see his daddy again. Perhaps hopefully the time that his dad has been gone away at war has softened that. It's horrible to wish a baby would forget about a parent, but I just hurt for this little boy. Finally I was wracked with the pain and guilt of this picture and the tears came. It didn't really make me feel better, but it at least made me feel like I was responding appropriately.

Rachel was so cute and adorable tonight. Way more than usual, if that's at all possible. But I just could not telling her tonight how beautiful she was and how much fun she was. I cannot imagine going off and leaving her the whole time knowing that I might never see her again. But at the same time, I think of something Kevin said on my other blog. I recently commented about how I didn't think that terrorists had a larger objective other than to kill and spread fear and to that end, we needed to make it not in their best interests to continue doing that. In some ways, it was to improve the conditions in other countries so that there were alternatives beyond suicide bombing. In other ways, it was to go after the people who were spreading the fear and inciting others to their deaths.

He asked me, hypothetically, if he were to stalk my family, wouldn't I first try to figure out why? Wouldn't I want to know why? I figured that plenty of smart people around the world had already tried to figure out why. In this particular case, I figured my first response would be to circle the wagons, assess my options and maybe fire back where I thought I could do the most damage. Lori was even more blunt, she said that she wouldn't care why, but that if Rachel were put into any sort of jeopardy, she wouldn't hesitate to kill first and maybe, just maybe, ask questions later.

Which is why I feel like a coward. I am not out there trying to improve someone else's life. But I understand why it's important and I'm really grateful for those who have heeded the call. The downside just sucks beyond words.

1 comment:

KEVIN МАРУСЕК said...

(Here's hoping this one doesn't get deleted...)

I don't denounce all war. From time to time there exists upon this earth men (or groups of men) intent on creating evil. Such men cannot be reasoned with, nor can they be ignored. They simply must be stopped.

However, I do not see the people of Iraq, or the people of Afghanistan for that matter, as having evil intentions. I was in favor of taking out Saddam and his sons as they were known and proven bad men. And of course Mr. Bin Laden deserves a good spanking, but to go to war against an entire nation filled with people who couldn't even locate the USA on a map, let alone pose a threat to us, is... well... overkill.

Of course, in the hypothetical I posed, Lori's right. Your first instincts must be to protect your family... the "why" comes later... but it does come. You said you assumed smart people already knew why. Never assume... that's partly how we're in the mes we're in.

And to say you're a coward is ridiculous, just like saying you're not trying to improve someone else's life. You are raising a daughter and caring for a wife in a world where such things aren't appreciated enough. You are an example of what those dying soliders are trying to protect. You don't have to crouch down in a foxhole to prove you're a man. Maintaining a family is man's work, too.