Monday, September 25, 2006

Hear ye! Hear. ye. (A manifesto.)

I was so heartened to read the Washington Post article, Three Retired Officers Demand Rumsfeld's Resignation,that, if I were to have published the story in The Starpower Times, I'd have called it Three Retired Officers Starpower Would Kiss on the Mouth. I'd even put up a picture (if they'd let me kiss them, that is). As well as an interactive flowchart of Rumsfeld's ceremonious firing, execution, and speedy descent to his homeland, Hell, to be re-seated at the left hand of Satan. The Starpower Times--the "ST" to those in the know--would have pictures all Harry Potter-style so could watch the whole thing. You could even yell insults at him that he could hear. Get your yelling voices ready! Sigh, if only...

I can only laugh so long. I really hate that guy.

...which brings me to another thing that has been of great concern lately--this would be an op-ed piece in the ST--and that is the seething anger most if not all Dems have these days. Anger at the continuing war and lives lost, anger at the horrific response to Katrina, and more insidiously the problems--racism, poverty, classism--Katrina revealed (long-standing problems, to be sure, but worsened by the funding-starved social support systems, public health and otherwise), anger at the lying and trickery of the current regime, the inhumane evil outlook of the current regime and, perhaps most of all, our own party's seeming inability to fight fire with fire. Read comments people leave on lefty blogs and see the sheer venom people have no other place to inject but back into our own veins. Dramatic, I know, but seriously, folks, people are pissed and helpless. We yell at each other, fuel each other's ire and get swamped in collective Fuck-it-ness.

I leave comments on blogs. I'm not innocent on that count and, in our need to vent, none of us are guilty. We have to vent, because it's just scary and frustrating and sad what this country is becoming. But, in terms of what this country is becoming, we are, in another sense, guilty. We are angry at our leadership, call them complicit in the destruction of the country. I wonder if that's the case. This is what I see:

1. Dems/FORMER Dems desperate for their representatives to either (a) get into office, (b) actually represent, (c) who cares-they suck-we're screwed-why vote? Common theme among them? Angry, angry, angry. And why shouldn't we be?! We have every right, but let's look at where anger can lead...

2. A "Daddy-avenging" war that should never have begun and is ripping at least one country to shreds

3. A war that is so horribly "managed" (puke) that even our military is against it (well at least some members)

4. A war so awful that it's CREATING the problems we portended to try to eliminate: more and more terrorist cell-lets born all the time (duh--as if war softens peoples' edges)

The war issue is so divisive in our own country--and please listen up here--that we are no longer political parties, it seems, but factions and when factions argue they fight and that fight is not safely tucked away on senate floors between the leadership but between neighbors who used to have cookouts because we are so tightly wound these days--ALL of us--we're angry and looking for a fight and what makes a ground more fertile for fighting than a pissed-off populace? Divide and destroy, people. Just look at Iraq. So, I ask you, are the Dems In Charge really being wussies or maybe trying to waylay some potentially awful civil conflict in our own country?

Okay, okay, so maybe I'm giving them too much credit? Maybe they are spineless neo-apologists for the current regime (if you can't beat'em, talk like'em and hope they vote for you by accident), but I like to think--have to think--that there's a way out of this mess we call the Homeland (ugh, I sound so Republican (see?!)) and back into the nation we called United.

For me, the war becomes The Thing I Don't Think About; the news, Something I Can Only Stomach Sometimes. It can swallow you up, you know? Sometimes you have to back away. Not so you can bury your head, but so you don't lose it.

I lived in Angola in Summer 1999, a country at the time still torn by civil conflict--decades of conflict--and there was NOTHING left. Well, there were these things: starvation, starvation, starvation, poverty, starvation, drunk security guards with AK-47s, orphans (from AIDS? the war?) living together under trees in city parks, landmine-disabled mothers and kids (not to mention soldiers) looking for food in fields and getting injured instead, tons of ex-pats getting drunk in restaurants that charge more for a meal than most Angolans make in one year (not exaggerating here), bombing (lest we forget there's a war going on), RAMPANT alcoholism (as in 10 year olds drinking beer because it's literally more accessible than water) and enough government rhetoric you almost want to turn off the one-TV-station-TV (almost, they played awesome cartoons and Brazilian novellas, too!).

It was a hard place to be, even for seven weeks. I had to take a vacation in the middle of it for ten days--they make you--and UN employees would get Hardship Pay. Their family members weren't allowed to join them living there. Too difficult. So they'd go it alone--and get drunk at restaurants where most Angolans couldn't eat (again, unless they saved up for a year). It wasn't easy on anyone--though the frango was delicious (I will not apologize for enjoying that).

Things in Angola are better now--they finally killed the rebel leader, Savimbi (who's been seen shaking Reagan's hand a time or two--all you had to do for arms money during the Cold War was say "Democracy"). Savimbi was not all bad and El Presidente wasn't all good--they were both bad. Hussein and Bush are both bad. You can argue one is worse than the other and I'd argue back that maybe one was just more obvious. Point being: Savimbi and the President fought over power of Angola for forty years and the only reason the war ended was because one of them was finally killed--and so the rest of them stopped fighting. Are things better in Angola--a place with no stable infrastructure to speak of, a place of sick and injured and poor citizens, a place so rich in diamonds and oil that, had--history worked out a bit differently--could easily have been a world superpower--is Angola honestly better off now because of the war that was fought or because it ended?

They are better because it ended. War is beyond-words-bad. I have seen it. And the "low-grade" one I saw was nothing compared to what's happening in Iraq right now. I don't have to make a case to you to stop the war--to find some way to withdraw our troops while providing some support to the Iraqi people (let's begin with no longer killing them)--but the case I want to make is this: we know violence and killing are wrong. It is destructive.

But so is anger, if unbridled, unchecked. We have to check ourselves and see where the fester-meter is when we talk about politics, where it is when we think about people dying or poor, left at the Superdome or caught in crossfire in Baghdad. We have to check to see that we haven't so tuned out that we won't vote. We can blog to bitch so long as blog to propose solutions and provide hope (here's an example of a good balance).

We have to check the us-them thinking. If not, we contribute to the divide and destroy machine.

Remember that most people are generally good. Maybe ignorant (snap! (there goes that point...)) but good.

Be respectful and disagree politely. Like our leaders (should).

Garden, do yoga, love your family, whatever--just do it consciously and conscientiously.

Remember that there is a huge world out there filled with conflict and peace and some of it may have nothing to do with the Homeland (ugh) or Iraq.

Think of Antarctica or the Himalayas or the Dalai Lama or your dog and how, with (maybe) the exception of one, they don't give a shit about any of the whole mess. They go on just the same because it's all in the moment for them. It's all about this second, now this one, now this one, now this one...

And, my God, we have to laugh, people. My favorite joke:

What did Washington tell his men before getting on the boat?
Men, get on the boat.

Shall we?


Blogger joestrummerlives said...

Well said Star, well said. And thanks for the plug.

8:56 AM  
Anonymous sara said...

well done yourself my dear....

6:54 AM  
Blogger Andrew Lloyd Webber Raschke said...

Speaking of Rumsfeld, did you get my birth-announcement?

2:08 PM  

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