February 17, 2003

"Agonizing in the Middle"

First some disclaimers - because that's how I am.

Yes I said I'd lighten up but while the topic is different, it's none the lighter.
Oh well.
You're lucky I spared you all my annual Valentine's Day rant.
I still have some partial Valentine entries sitting around but nothing I care to post.

Also, I have an update to get out of the way about the friend in Europe:
The last I heard (over a week ago) he was a bit more responsive, and able to communicate by hand-squeezing. I'm pretty sure that no news is good news so I don't have the nerve to write for further updates.
Besides, doing so would upset my denial mechanism.

Finally, I know some of you won't like the following, but it won't be the first time. Feel free to use the guestbook or the forum (or e-mail) to tell me where to go or to try to change my mind.

It is still open, after all.

Millions of people all over the world took to the streets this past weekend, demonstrating their opposition to war in general, and war in Iraq in particular.

I was not one of them.

By all rights I should have been, if I'd stayed true to my demographic. I'm a baby-boomer, mother of two army-age sons.
I have the lyrics to "Eve of Destruction" hard-wired in my brain.
Ditto All we are sayyyyyyyying...
is give peace a chance...

No I wasn't too lazy or too afraid of the cold.

The reason I have yet to protest this impending war is that I'm not convinced it's the right thing to do.

Of course I hate war.
I'd love to give peace a chance but I fear our society already has, and far too many times over.

If I were a U.S. citizen, I would not have voted for George W. Bush.
But neither would I have anticipated even in my wildest nightmares what took place on September 11, 2001.

I did not march for peace but neither would I have marched for war.
I just don't know.
I don't feel qualified to make a decision with the information I have.

The lessons of history are convoluted and depend of course on who's writing the history.
Was appeasement a bad thing that gave Germany time to strengthen? Or was it a good thing that gave the Allies time to organize?
What if the U.S. had entered World War II earlier?
What if Hitler had won? Where would the peace movement be then?

Perhaps it's wrong to compare Saddam Hussein with Hitler; perhaps not. The point is, I just don't know and I wonder how the millions who marched can be so secure in their convictions.
Rather than inspire me with hope, that spectacle made me even more fearful of our ability and willingness to recognize and stand up to the evil that exists whether we want it to or not.

There was an opinion piece in today's paper that echoed sentiments I've read in journal entries and mailing lists.

The columnist expressed her pride in the large turnout of Montrealers for the march here, especially considering the sub-zero temperatures and wind chill.
She expressed her hope that there is strength in numbers and that governments might actually be listening.

I respect the marchers for standing up for what they believe in.
I just don't understand how they can be so sure.

Is this a well-thought out and analyzed movement or is it an attempt to return to the good old days when we were young and marching was sexy and the songs were much better than they are now?

Is it people power or is it lemmings marching over a cliff?

Another column in the business section of Saturday's paper made a bit more sense to me.
It enlarged upon and partially refuted the argument that the U.S. is motivated towards war by oil interests.
If I believed it were as simple as that, I'd be in my fake-fur lined parka, marching with the populace.

There's another aspect to the war argument that I haven't seen much written about - or perhaps the omission is significant in itself.

There's a hint in this paragraph from the first column I mentioned above:

But it was also a moving snapshot of what Montreal is all about - there were hijabs and tuques, black, white and brown faces, Quebec, Canadian, Iraqi and Lebanese flags, Palestinian scarves and a beautiful mishmash of Arabic, Spanish, French, English and other languages.

Maybe it was an oversight but where were the Israeli flags and the yarmulkes?
Perhaps they were there and the columnist neglected to mention them.
Or perhaps this is more about Israel than anyone wants to discuss.

I am Jewish; I was born only a few years after the Holocaust.
My parents were not personally affected, as their families had immigrated a generation before. But they bore the scars the same way anyone watching TV on Sept. 11 does.
I believe in the necessity of the state of Israel.
I certainly don't approve of everything Israel does and that is a discussion for another time.
Or not.

The point here is Israel's very existence.

Or not.

I can't get out of my head a moment in a CNN newscast last Thursday evening.
It's right there in a transcript on the CNN website.
The anchor, Aaron Brown, was on location in Kuwait, chatting with random Kuwaiti citizens who were relaxing in a desert get-away.
He had made it clear while broadcasting there for the week that Kuwait was a good-guy nation. The people live "well", and they have all the amenities that we're used to in Western culture.
Most of all, they're allowing their country to be used as a huge army base by the U.S.

In the discussion about war and its effect on the region, Aaron Brown asked this question, almost as an afterthought it seemed:

BROWN: Do you think the Palestinian problem can be solved if there is a state of Israel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think so.

The answer came very quickly, calmly and matter-of-factly.
It was one of the most chilling moments I'd seen on the news and that is saying a lot.

"if there is" a state of Israel.

No question of living as neighbours.
No question of how to divide the land.
No question at all other than existence, yes or no.

And these are the good guys.

Have I strayed off topic? I don't know, and there's much I don't know which is really my point.
How can people so blindly accept that marching for peace is the right thing to do?
War is bad but meekly allowing those with fewer scruples to do as they please might be even worse.

After writing all this, I was sitting and trying to think up a title for it, when the phone rang.
It was the newpaper, calling to confirm that I'd submitted a letter to the editor.
It was a brief part of the above entry.
In the course of the conversation he noted that he'd received many letters in favour of the marchers, some violenty opposed, and then there was me, "agonizing in the middle".
And so there's my title.
Things appear as we need them, if only we pay attention.


Through the magic of links and referral stats I've discovered I'm not so alone in my opinions as it seemed to me.

Other dissenting voices (more to come when/if I discover them):




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