Am I the same way?


I was at the laundromat the other day and got in a conversation with a man who was also there. He asked me if I saw the marches that day on TV. He said they were huge. I told him I hadn’t but I had seen pictures of the ones in September. Then he mentioned Cindy Sheehan. I told him I thought she was a Fascist fool. That she dishonored her son’s memory. For the second time in a day, I stepped into it!

Earlier in the day I was talking to a gentleman at the grocery store. He was disabled and a Vietnam Veteran. He was angry about Abu Ghraib. He felt it was criminal that young female involved was convicted and sentenced to prison for her part in the crimes at the prison. I told him I felt she deserved her sentence. I didn’t think the things that were shown in those pictures made our country or our troops look good to the rest of the world. I felt it made us look as bad as the terrorists. Failure to properly try those involved would create a dangerous precedent. International ramifications would be particularly harmful to our troops and our goal in Iraq to help them set up a Democratic government.

He promptly lit into me. He said our troops ought to do to the Iraqi and the terrorists what he and other soldiers did in Vietnam, kill them all, men, women and children. That way there were no witnesses. He said even children carried grenades in Vietnam and tried to kill them. Besides he says, the Iraqi have been fighting since the beginning of time and would always do so! I told him I served during Vietnam too. I knew that some of what he said had happened in Vietnam; but, those incidents where women and children were killed were a rare occurrence but common knowledge. He tried to tell me most of our troops in Vietnam killed everything that moved. I disagreed.

He went on to say that before he’d let his son get drafted he’d take him to a safe foreign country. He made it clear how much he hated George Bush. At that point I just listened and let him talk. He had a lot of bad memories about how our troops were treated during Vietnam. He felt this war was all Mr. Bush’s fault. He finally left. I was sorry for him that the past events had so clouded his ability to see present events more clearly.

Meanwhile, back at the laundromat, this other fellow was telling me he was in the military once himself. He went to Nicaragua but I forget which war he was in the Middle East. He said he remembered everything our troops and the CIA did in Nicaragua. I agreed that in the past there were some soldiers and CIA types who fought in Nicaragua in wars there. Our involvement there was questionable at times! I agreed that some members of the CIA also got pretty rich off the drug money they made. I told him I knew he was right, but I felt these incidents were not the rule but rather the exception!

But Then I said I felt our interference or involvement, depending on the circumstances, were a result of the Communist threat. I felt many nations, us included, could do with a closer look at some of their actions as they tried to prevent the spread of Communism. I also said I felt that the Atomic Bomb had a lot to do with the sometimes irrational acts on all sides. I honestly don’t think any of the developers of the “bomb” realized what they had unleashed until we dropped the bombs on Japan to end World War II. Then for the next 50+ years the arms race was conducted at a fever pitch that almost got out of complete control. Both sides were afraid the other would have more bombs and obliterate them before a retaliation or preventative measure could be taken.

I also said that the CIA was held more accountable now for its actions, too. But I think they are still “pouting” at the loss of their almost “total” freedom of movement and action they had before. Our Cold War experiences with the Afghan rebels we supported at the end of the Cold War taught us a lot about consequences. The United States was not alone in the support, training, and arms provided to the Afghan rebels to fight the Russians and drive them out of Afghanistan! I said the reason we used them was because we didn’t know enough about the customs and culture and didn’t have enough people that spoke the language! He just laughed and shook his head.

My clothes were done by then so I left. I felt very frustrated and a little angry, to be honest, as I left. But mostly I felt fear. Fear for my country, my kids, my family and home. the results of the war. I felt fear because many people really do believe that trash the media reports. Fear because these people never check on their own to see if they are getting all the news or facts! Fear because those terrorists want to kill us and our way of life and a huge number of Americans can not see it!

The next day I was doing more laundry and the same man from the day before was walking past. When he saw me he stopped to chat. He asked if I had changed my mind? I said about what? Then he asked me if I had seen the news today. I told him I hadn’t. He proceeded to tell me our troops were rebelling. They were all sick of the war. He seemed quite happy with that thought! So I suggested that he get on the internet and read their blogs. I told him what the MSM said and what the troops said were two different things. Then I told him about all the good things that had been accomplished according to our troops on their Blogs. I also told him about the Iraqi Bloggers who also said the same thing. I said that there were some troops who didn’t feel we ought to be there and some Iraqi but those numbers were very small.

He just looked at me disgusted! Then he again said, boy you have a lot to learn. He said you know “white people” aren’t the only soldiers dying over there. I said, you know what, all those soldiers volunteered. None of them were drafted. The attitudes, training, everything about our troops now was different than in Vietnam. For the next ten minutes he went into a diatribe about “his people” and how there were no black CIA agents. I told him I really couldn’t say. But, I saw no reason why there couldn’t be any! He went into a discussion about the “march” again. The march he was referring to was the Reverend Farrakhan rally in DC. At all his previous events in DC whites were not invited. This time, we were lucky, anyone could come? Even the Klan and Nazis had people there. As I now had a clearer picture of where we were headed I just let him continue to talk for a bit.

Then I said, first off, neither you nor I are responsible for what our ancestors did or did not do. But as long as people held on to hatred and old grievances, there never would be peace in the world. I also said that if we took away all indications of that time then future generations would not really have any incentive to keep those times from happening again. That to me it would be like saying the Holocaust never happened and removing all the evidence thereby negating its happening. I said we needed to never forget these things had happened so we could learn from those times and hopefully as I said, never let those things occur again.

I also told him that one thing I had discovered was no one new the USSR was broke and about to fall. However in 1969, a Soviet dissident, Andrei Amalrik predicted the USSR collapse in 1984 in his book, “Will the Soviet Survive until 1984?” He didn’t miss it by much, was imprisoned by the USSR and basically scoffed at else where. So, when all the “allies” helped train and supply the Afghan rebels, they could not have predicted that the USSR would later collapse and that the “rebels” would unite in a Holy War to reestablish the old Caliphate dissolved in 1928. They could not have foreseen that these same rebels would be a fanatical sect of Muslims that would kill and torture even their own people if it helped their cause to create a world Muslim state. Sadly, all the signs were there since 1988, possibly longer. When Anwar Sadat was killed, then there should have been an inkling that there was something going on. But when you don’t know the customs or language of a people how can you understand or see what is going on within their culture? How can you see the turmoil of a people afraid of losing their identity and their very way of life. Sometimes change and the greed of others have deadly consequences. Those responsible ought to be held accountable and ought to be part of the solution. Maybe it won’t be too late. Only time will tell and the will of the Iraqi and Afghan people.

When he continued again about “My people,” I said look, if we must talk about “my people” then everyone but “my” people needs to leave because this was “my people’s” home before any one else came here and many of my people still lived on Reservations. He looked at me then he said, I bet if George Bush ran again you’d vote for him wouldn’t you? I said yes I would. But, I don’t vote by a specific party. At that he just walked off saying you’ll never change my mind. I told him I wasn’t interested in changing his mind. I was merely responding to what he said. I also hoped he would take time to research for himself and not blindly accept what the MSM said. I also told him I felt we had a President now who meant what he said and followed through to the end. One who realized you can’t negotiate with terrorists or people who want to destroy you. We had hopefully learned from our experiences. He just looked at me and said I was very naive again as he continued to walk off!

I thought to myself, I wonder why so many people were so eager to believe just the bad things? Why don’t they take the time to check out what they hear whether it’s in the news or someone tells them something? You know, when I hear something or read it, I have always had an insatiable curiosity that made me go find out more about things. I like to check out the different ideas and opinions, the different facts. I would like to think that I am fairly tolerant of people and their differences. But I also know I can be stubborn and opinionated too! So I work very hard at trying to keep an open mind. It isn’t easy some times.

I just want to scream at people sometimes because they seem like sheep. They just blindly follow or naively believe what they hear! Believe what they want to believe! Then I thought to myself, am I the same way, too? How can one be true to ones self but not self absorbed. I decided that an old expression I had heard some time ago was all I had to use but it was true and tried. After looking at “all the facts” as much as one can, then look inside yourself to that little voice, in the pit of your gut, the one that never lies to you. I remembered that when I ignored that voice, I screwed up. But what frightens me is that I wonder how many others refuse to obey that littler voice. How many are swayed away from it. How many will turn away from that voice because it is the easier road. I chose to do as Robert Frost does in his poem, “The road not taken!”

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~ by devildog6771 on November 2, 2005.

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