I have been wondering. Is it politically correct to ask people questions, or make statements about the war "on terror" (which isn't what it seems is happening) in Iraq? Or is this subject taboo?
I get the strangest responses if I make any comment about Iraq. Mostly, people are so distanced that they don't know anything; however, many don't want to know anything whatsover. For others, they are rabid--they start going and can't stop, their spittle is spattering me, making me nervously shift away. Since I live on the West Coast, maybe people feel more removed than those on the East Coast. Or in between the Coasts. Or in Texas. I don't know.
For a long time, I didn't pay too much attention myself. I only knew women at the hospital where I work who were devastated to have their son or daughter "sent over." In quiet solemn tones, they would say, "My...has been sent over. There." I'd go, "Oh?" In a tone they could reply to or not, their choice. And they would invariably reply, "Yes. To Iraq. We don't know where. And we don't have communication with them. Yet." Some would start to cry and others were unbelievably stoic. For awhile. They cry too, now.
These moms wore little r/w/b pins at first...one mom wore a sweatshirt that said "warrior mom" on it one time ...some put bumper stickers and flags on their car...at first...they got other employees to quite earnestly contribute to supplies in care packages. Our pharmacy sent saline nose spray and saline eye drops. Because it's so dry and hot there....what cost us 55 cents a bottle would mean so much to them...
The subject seems formidable: Is it right to be over in Iraq in the first place? Are we helping? What about those pictures that appear on the net that tell us all is not as it is said to be? After Bush was re-elected and we are going to have four more years of the same, I felt compelled as an American to become educated; to be more attentive to this issue.
But it's like I got left behind. People have said what they have to say, and don't have much to contribute now. Are they numb?
It's all anyone wanted to talk about before the election. Now, it's like it isn't happening. Silence. A Silence with more hidden horror in it than what was horrible about Silence of the Lambs. Because the two silences are similar....
To question this further, if one would like to ask questions and get answers, or maybe get opinions from friends about what they see in the media, what is an okay question to ask?
Somehow, I think "How is the war in Iraq today?" is out. Certainly, "Do you take tea with your war?" is out, what a ghastly thing to say. So, it's not a social event-type questioning that I am looking for.
What I am looking for is a delicately phrased open-ended question which allows the listener/hearer to pause, think, reflect, and answer, or not. Of course, one has tons of news media to check out. TV programs, radios, the net. It's not that I haven't. But I'm talking about connecting with real everyday people, to see what they think, but people are slowly--or suddenly?--disconnecting from "whatever is going on in Iraq."
Is it that we avoid it because we feel powerless? I've mentioned I feel mad--which is one way to describe pure fear--because I fear my daughter will be asked/demanded by her country to join a war I don't confess to understand in the least.
What I'm starting to understand is that people are very afraid of the unknowns involved. We are afraid to say we support the war--because why? Give me some good reason, they say. And we are afraid to say we don't support the war--because we definitely have friends, neighbors, sons and daughters over there fighting and to say we "don't support it" might equate with not supporting their family member. It just isn't done, to derogatize the war in front of parents of soldiers. That's equal to ripping out the shredded edges of the hole left in the parent's heart when their son or daughter left to go over there.
No one thought it would be this way. Or did we suspect? Do we feel guilty? We were told everything would be fine, dandy and democratic. Why? Does the apparent silence among us mean that we are supposed to be quiet now?
There is a big dangerous corner on the highway into the town I live. It's called the "Narrows" but should be called the "Narrow Escape From Death." At least once a year someone dies in a wreck there. I drive this road on many nights during our long wet season and now it's foggy, too. Soon, there will be ice. One night recently, I saw a homemade painted sign through the fog. I thought it said "Welcome Home." The next night I slowed my car. It did say, "Welcome Home Jake," and there was a second sign: "Your Family and Your Country Thank You."
I never dared ask a single soul if Jake came home sitting in a car, or lying in a box in the back of a car. It just isn't a thing you ask right now.