Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Magnetic Ribbons and Bumper Politics Revisited

After having my last would-be-post unceremoniously erased from my computer not once but twice, I had decided to swear off this unsavory habit for good. But then, on the way home from the grocery (Kroger, by the way, has bought out all of the competition in our neighborhood, so now we can never find what we want - but that's a rant for another time) on the back of a red, mid 90's Toyota Tacoma I saw a magnetic ribbon that compelled me to revisit the subject of bumper politics and magnetic ribbons.

Half of the ribbon was the familiar yellow "God Bless Our Troops." The other half of the ribbon, however, was black. In simple, gray letters it read, "God Forgive George Bush."

We all want things nice and simple. You are either for us or against us, for the war or against the war. You are on one side or the other. But reality is complicated. And the reality of war is that soldiers do not get to choose when or where to go to war; and most soldiers do not even get to choose how the war is waged. Soldiers are sent. Soldiers are ordered. They are not ordered against their will, as their will is not even a consideration. They are to have no will.

For better or for worse, politicians choose wars. They choose when to go to war, where to go to war, and against whom to wage war. Far too often they even get to decide how the war is fought. Soldiers merely pay for the war. Not with their money, mind you. That is our job. Rather, soldiers pay for the war with their lives and with their deaths.

Many people who have gone to war struggle with the implications of their combat actions. It is no easy thing to kill a person, or at least to attempt to kill a person. Hell, it is no easy thing to participate in any way in a project which leads to the death of a single person. But war is not about the death of a single person. War is about the deaths of many, many people. And any participation in war is a participation in killing. People die on all sides. People are maimed on all sides. People are emotionally scarred on all sides. War is expensive, and I'm not talking about the billions or trillions of dollars spent in the campaign and the clean-up.

Soldiers do not get to choose very much if anything about a war, but they do get to pay for it. This is why it is so vitally important, if you claim to support your troops, to choose very carefully when, where and how you spend their physical and emotional resources. In many cases what is spent can never be gotten back.

In our simple version of war to fail to support a wartime president and his hasty decision to wage a war of luxury rather than necessity is to fail to support our troops. This magnetic ribbon, if it argued anything, argued that perhaps the opposite is true. To support a politician or group of politicians who frivolously waste the physical and emotional resources of men and women willing to kill and die for us is to fail to support our troops.

God, if you're listening, God if you care, please bless our troops. They need your guidance, your strength, your love, your protection and your mercy. Hold them in your hands, and care for them as we have not.

And God, please forgive us. Forgive us for being timid when we needed to be strong. Forgive us for not standing up and saying, "Not in our name, not with our money, not with the lives of our brothers, sisters and friends." Please forgive us for cowing to power. Please forgive us for not fighting for peace.

Lord guide us in this fight against violence, and keep us from using violent means. Violence only begets violence, and there is already too much violence in our souls.

In your merciful name we pray,



goddess_rl said...

I want send that prayer out to everyone I know. and then I remember that I hate things like that, that inevitably someone will attach a send this out to 6-10-15 folks for more effect clauses or add "heartfelt" pictures meant to pull out tears. But yet I feel compelled. Perhap I will just send it to a very "select few".

Sandalstraps said...

Yeah, I hate that kind of trite sentimental crap, too. That said, send it to whomever you like. What they hell. If there's going to be sappy mass e-mails out there, they at least ought to be our sappy mass e-mails, right?