Sunday, October 01, 2006

And while I'm hat-tipping

I think Jana really nailed it, too. What do we tell our children?


Jawndoejah said...

I tell my children that it's all more complicated than it looks. We don't know the whole story. Period. I actually have told my children that our President wanted Sadaam out of power because of the people he killed. Our intent was never to "kill children" but to capture Sadaam. The next strategy after that was to stabilize the country. Millions of Muslims hate Americans, and many have flocked to the area to make it difficult for our nation. This is a consequence of our actions, yes, but this does not mean our President was wrong for going in. If it is true that we were lied to by our leaders who knew there were no WMD's, then that's a shame and it is a problem. However, I do not think getting Sadaam out was a bad move. I am praying for Iraq to stabilize and for them to be blessed because we were there. I really think President Bush was hoping to free this nation, I really do.

American dealings in the world prove all the time to be complicated and difficult. I did tell our children how we want to help the children in Sudan, and that a group of Sudaneese were quickly brought out of their country and flown to America by our state department. These people actually live in my county, and go to my church, and they are alive because our govt. rescued them. With the situation, we couldn't just go in and start a war there, but we did go in and rescue people. Someone from the state department called our pastor just to tell him to keep up the good work on projects we are doing at our church to help these people. See, George Clooney is out there trying to help those in Sudan and makes it look like the USA isn't involved, when all along we have been. It's all so much more complicated than anyone can imagine. One Sudaneese man spoke at our church (hope I'm spelling Sudaneese right), and he told us of his horrible childhood seeing male members of his family die. He walked for miles on foot and eventually ended up in a camp. One day many were rescued, they didn't know who would be helping them, but they found out it was America. His last comment was, "Thank God for America, please do not let her enemies defeat her." His ultimate goal is to go back to his country with others like him living here. They want to make Sudan a better place when the time comes. Some are even going and helping Muslims who persecuted them...Muslims who are now being killed by different Muslims. Our country is helping these people.

There is something more to this story in Iraq, something prompted the whole thing. The truth is out there. God knows what it is. It is not as simple as "we're the bad guys in the USA" and "sometimes adults do stupid things." No, sometimes adults do things based on what they know, and sometimes not everyone can see why. Maybe we should just pray for our leaders whether they have sex with interns or start wars in countries for whatever reason. War is hell, that's for sure. I do not advocate war. Still, I think there's more to it than we've been told. Also, God is watching and he does have a plan. No matter what man does, God is there somewhere in the midst of it making things go this way or that to let it all come to some kind of conclusion...


Anonymous said...

What I would tell my children is the main reason I don't have any.


Jule Ann said...

I appreciate the thought you put into this (by "this" I mean both your response and what you tell your children). I think what struck me the most about Jana's post was how startling a different perspective can be. It wasn't so much that her son asked about the war, it was that he asked who the good guys were that we were siding with. Because when you look at it like that, suddenly the sound bite answers don't work anymore. Sure, there are reasons, but when we tell our kids to walk away from fights, to not get involved in other people's fights, it becomes a lot harder to explain what we are doing. Because really, there are no good guys we are siding with, just us. It's our fight. And that's a lot harder to explain.

twilighttreader said...

Jana managed to hit one of the biggest problems in America today right on the head: she refused to tell her son that we're the bad guys. Americans, in general, simply cannot conceptualize their nation as being the bad guys in anything. Read your average highschool history textbook; the closest you'll ever get is an admission that "ok, we were pretty mean to the Indians and the blacks, but that's all in the past now". And good luck finding a history teacher willing to critically discuss these shameful events.

Europeans have been forced to come to an understanding that their countries have been, and can still be, the bad guys. Even if they're not from, say, Germany or Italy, you need only go a bit further back to earlier wars of religion, or greed, or over perceived insults between royalty, or any number of stupid causes. Once you've wrapped your mind around the fact that your nation has done things that are, without exception, evil, it becomes much easier to see such a course when it begins to rise again... and to put a stop to it.

Americans have been indoctrinated by gleeful retellings of our *glorious* military history of *saving the world* to believe, consciously or subconsciously, that this country can do no wrong. That's why they refuse to accept that we are now the bad guys, and refuse to hold those who have made us such accountable and demand radical change.

Phil said...

There are no good guys

I think Jule Ann has a very good point, "there are no good guys..." (except i would have just added a period right there). In a fight in which all sides believe they are fighting for their survival, the rules tend to fly out the window. Unfortunately, the war on terror is such a fight. Many muslims are convinced that the U.S. is simply trying to wipe out and/or humiliate Islam, and the current U.S. administration is convinced that if we give up the war on terror, muslim extremists will see that as a victory and will be encouraged to commit more acts of terrorism. Unfortuately, i think there is truth in both beliefs. Being the more powerful of the factions, the end of the war is really up to the U.S. - either we wipe out all islamic extremists (morally repulsive AND impossible) or we move out of the middle east in a sign of humility (which would bolster extremists to no end). There are no good outcomes in this war.

There is already so much damage done, and (here's where i may lose some of you) i am afraid that this war has given momentum to a chain of events that may lead to the end of the world as we know it. America is a great place to live, and even as its freedoms decline, it is still a place where you can practice religion more freely than many other places in the world. That being said, America is not some sacred country that will be around forever (at least not in a way we might imagine). I am happy to live here, but it's not a stretch to say that the days of America's "greatness" (if not its existence) are numbered.

I don't say that to discourage anyone; i say it because i believe it is true. And i think it gives us an opportunity and encouragement to break the cycle of violence. I would rather America be destroyed because it loves its enemies and gave them too much freedom rather than because it feared its enemies so much that it treated its own citizens like its enemies.

I'd make a horrible politician.

Jule Ann said...

I think you've touched on one of the unpinpointable differences between Canada and the USA that has always been a vague spot at the edge of my vision. Memorial day and Veterans day here are a time to wave flags, celebrate victory, and hero worship (and drink and eat BBQ). Rememberance day in Canada is a somber, solemn day when we remember the dead, go about our normal lives but remember the tragedy of war throughout, taking an hour out of work or school for a solemn ceremony which always includes a moment of silence. We take memorial seriously. We really regret the deaths that war has caused.
But it's healthy discourse that we are lacking here. Far too many of us jump on either the "good" train or the "evil" train. And we don't seem able to have a conversation that doesn't involve pointing fingers or hating. In fact, if you had been able to visit Jana's post before she had to put an end to the comments, you would have seen an unfortunate amount of "I can't believe you think X, you moron". When we tell our kids, "Actually, the president is evil and all we are doing in Iraq is murdering kids", we aren't helping. All we then do is create robotic little repeaters that get into schoolyard fights over whether or not the president is a god or evil incarnate. But he's neither. He's human, and has a lot of responsibility. And, like him or not, he is the leader of our country (I refuse to say "free world", because he is not president of Canada, or England, or Holland), and civic duty demands that we give him at least some measure of our support. But we don't seem capable of disagreeing with the guy and still letting him lead. I guess that's another difference between Canada and the USA. A big part of Canadian identity is comprised of questioning and criticizing our leaders. In fact, our Parliament not only has, but occasionally uses, the vote of no confidence to get a leader that we have lost faith in, out. But it's not a daily occurrence. And we seem better at being able to back our complaints as well as praises up with reasons. We love Canada because of X. Not just blind patriotism or partisan partiality.

I don't have a lot to add, but I wanted to say I'm impressed with your response. It reminds me of a quote from Catch 22 that I can't seem to track down at the moment - Basically, an old Italian man is discussing the fall of Rome with a young American soldier, and he asks him what makes him so confident that America won't fall; the Romans thought they were invincible too, and Rome fell.
Maybe too much confidence will be our downfall. But I agree, I'd rather go down in the flames of too much freedom.

twilighttreader said...

See, I do disagree with simply giving children answers without telling them the reasoning behind the answer. I'd never simply tell a kid "George Bush is evil", I'd tell them why what Bush has said and done goes against everything I believe, and why I believe those things, and how consequently I believe the Bush administration to be very, very evil.

Obviously, my children (pity their souls) would be pre-K emo kids wallowing in existential despair long before they hit puberty.

twilighttreader said...

Sorry for the double-post, but there's more I wanted to say and forgot to add.

I'm perfectly capable of disagreeing with somebody and still letting them lead. The ability to do this is fundamental to democracy. However, when the leader in question is pursuing a campaign of aggressive militantism, regressive economic policies, and a blatantly theocratical social agenda, I think anything short of vehement opposition constitutes a moral failure.

There's a time for compromise and civil disagreement, and there's a time for drawing lines in the sand. And any government that's actively seeking to legalize torture crossed that line a long time ago.