When I read all the stories about the lives of our soldiers and the Iraqi soldiers being lost (over 40 in the last 5 days), I begin to wonder what would happen if we just decided to scrap the whole thing and go home. Maybe, hopefully, continue to provide aid and expertise to re-build the infrastructure of their country, as we said we were there to do, but put all the guns and the rockets and the missiles and the soldiers and the jeeps and the hummer-thingys and the tanks on a boat and ship them home. Maybe put the weapons and other accoutrements of war in a museum for future generations to see, and hopefully not use. Send all the soldiers back to their families, give them a year of paid vacation and medical and mental health treatment, and maybe jobs or free college tuition to wherever they decide to go. No applications necessary. Would the Iraqi people maybe be so relieved that we are gone that they would stop killing each other too?
"Love is a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us, but it is the only answer."--Dorothy Day
This year, I decided that I was not going to celebrate the 4th of July. Someone had to work at my office today, so I decided it should be me, the anti-patriot. And my across-the-hall neighbor and I agreed it was the best way to express discontent. So I worked today. And I had no intention of doing anything particularly American (eating apple pie, singing Yankee Doodle Dandy, preempting something imaginary with a war). So I worked, went to visit my homeless friend, and went home. But as the day wore on, it became for me a more serious matter.
You see...the United States of America and I have lately not been getting along so well. My job often requires me to be the bearer of bad news, or to at least be in the room when said bad news is delivered. And that bad news generally comes from, or is due in part to the actions of, the US government. In the past two weeks I have told someone that though they do not make enough money to eat, the US government believes that they get too much money to be given any additional help; I have listened to people speak of losing dozens of friends to AIDS in the 1990s, simply because it wasn't thought important enough for the president to focus on; and have had to let a man know that the US Immigration service believes that despite the fact that he's been sleeping in a park next to the BQE for the last year, he really should have $400 to pay for the replacement Green Card that is required for him to have any hope of getting off the streets.
I do understand the irony of me writing all of my anti-American spiel on the Internet, when if it weren't for the that whole freedom of speech business I would be arrested for such things. But, for the love of all that is good and holy, I am tired. I am so tired of hearing of the supposed good that we're doing for people, when the people who need the most help are allowed to languish. I am tired of listening to the freedoms that we are fighting to give people in the Middle East when I know and see the blatant racism exercised by our government when an immigrant from an Arab country seeks assistance. I am over seeing the supposed freedoms of the market economy destroy scientific integrity in keeping life-saving medication from eradicating diseases that should have never been allowed to flourish so. I am simply tired.
I have spent the last few weeks writing pleading letters in my head to Barack Obama asking what he will do to help with each new issue I run into. I have written, again in my head, countless blog posts calling these things into question. And I have written one very angry and certainly awful poem. I don't know if I am right about these things, or if I am (as one of my co-workers called one of our co-workers) just some white yuppie kid with an education who wants to help for a moment before moving on to something else. But my heart is somewhat broken. And I don't know how to fix it, because I see no triumphant moment in sight. I try to keep hope, because I have to as it is tattooed as a command on my left wrist. But I'm not sure how much more my metaphorical heart can handle.