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Thinking About the War in Iraq

So here I am, thinking about the war on Iraq. I just read the "where is Raed" column and I am reminded of my thoughts on Germany.

I spent 4 months in Germany, living and learning. It brought a lot to my life and taught me a lot about, well, everything. It taught me how much I don't know, and that I had to respect that. Particularly as an American.

We are raised in this culture which actually encourages us to be lazy, and in some strange sort of paradigm, we are encouraged at the same time to be preoccupied, unbelievably preoccupied, with everything around us. As I'm writing that, I just got a message in my email with the subject title "Free pics of hot babes humping robots!" Needless to say, it was an ad (came with very graphic pictures) for an adult porn site for women (A.K.A. "hot babes") and their sex toys (A.K.A. "robots").

It's wierd. I get about 90 junk mail messages per day (I have two accounts, Hotmail and one for my web site and of them, probably 20-25 are actual, and the rest is just preoccupation. And yet, it's become such a part of my daily routine that when I get less than 50 in a day, I wonder what's wrong, like maybe my email account stopped working. Strange.

On the same topic, but getting back to the original point, I was looking back at my thoughts on Germany, and couldn't help but wonder if this war is any different than any of the others. Are they ever any different? While there aren't particularly fond feelings of Germany in America at the moment (in general - due to their stance on war at the UN), those people who were once our greatest enemies in the world are now our friends. My girlfriend traveled to Germany for spring break. I lived there two years ago. I now have amazing friends who are Germans. Will conquered Iraqi fighters, in the long run, come to view Americans as friends rather than imperialists? Will Arabs come to view Americans as friends rather than imperialists? And as equally important, will Americans, particularly the All-Muslim/Islam-is-bad camp, come to recognize Arabs as not that much different from anyone else who lives in this country?

What I took home with me from the people I met in Germany (exchange students - people from all over the world) is probably the most important of all; that the Mensch, the human being, shares a common desire, a common goal, and that desire is to succeed. What is so hard to grasp is that people, for an infinite number of reasons, are afraid of their own and others’ success. I brought home from Germany the hope that I would embrace all the success in life, and would learn more about letting go of the taking away that is fear. I have tried to do this since I got back almost two years ago.

What I still can not figure out, even in light of everything that has happened economically and politically in the past two years, is why we continue to have such bloody and brutal strife against one another, and how it can be possible that it continues today, when the human being has the same heart and the same soul, regardless of where it comes from.

The only thing I can figure out is that such strife, such brutality, such death, is necessary, actually necessary, for us to come to the understanding that the human being shares everything with every other life it contacts whether or not it chooses to do so. And it twists my heart and stomach into a feeling that makes me want to throw up when I think that the only way for us to see the heights and amazing abilities of our humanity is to experience the destruction (or "shock and awe") that we can create. It is a feeling of sorrow and guilt to think that in order for us to reach our greatest potential, we must plummet to our deepest levels of devastation and ruin. It is a feeling of sorrow because we fail to see ourselves in light of the big picture, see how small we all are in the grand scheme of things, and realize that we really do have a lot more to share and offer one another than our fear would have us think. It is a feeling of guilt, because I know that at times in my life, I have had to reach my lowest to reach my highest, and in some small way, that action of my own contributes to the larger picture which the world finds itself staring in the face today. I wonder if I have, in fact, learned more about letting go of the taking away that is fear in the last nearly two years since I've been home.

Is that the way it has to be? Must we really be our worst in order to be our best?

This war is a pre-emptive strike against Iraq (before it develops and uses nuclear weapons), but moreso, it's a strike against fear. It's an attempt to have Americans feel more safe, and indeed George Bush and our government feel more safe, by acting on our fear instead of living paralyzed by it.

However, where the true paralysis exists is in our inability to overcome our fear. 63% of Americans want this war. I'm not exactly pro-war, but I will admit that inside of me is that deep patriotic feeling of "America going off to get the job done" where no one else will. It's in our American spirit and in our American blood, the blood of survivors of slavery, genocide, holocaust, and religious persecution. It's in our blood to fight. Well, some of us anyway.

The possibility that this strife might be necessary still twists my heart and hangs on my soul as though it were being held in a vice, eternally cranked tighter and tighter in torture. | Not much to say »