Sunday, July 17, 2005

What Price Motherhood Afresh

How many more have to suffer and be killed? How many more innocents must die? Usually, the casualty numbers coming out of Iraq fly by me in an intellectual swoop. I look. I cluck. I sometimes get mad for a few moments, take the President's name in vain. Then I move on, eat my oatmeal, listen to my daughter play the piano, remind my son to take his meds.

But a report out of Iraq stopped me cold this afternoon. Yet another suicide bombing. Yet more innocents (whatever that judging phrase actually means) killed. And this sentence. "Reports say parents threw children out of burning houses to save them."

This is what we have come to. This is what we, in our meddling and muddling, have abetted. Children being thrown out of their burning homes by their parents to save them. This is the liberation of Iraq? This misbegotten war against a people and culture about which we in the West understand precious little has produced little but grief and madness. We are saving no one. We are killing many. And we are, by our very presence and actions, inciting the killings of oh so many more.

Might is not going to make right in this part of the world. Squashing insurgencies isn't as simple as squashing a mosquito. When you squash the mosquito, she dies. When you squash the insurgent, she dies. But her death inspires 10 more to die in her name. Violence clearly begets violence in the Middle East. Vengeance is sought over and over again. Everyone wants the last word, no one wants to lose face.

Many cliches in that last paragraph. I wonder if that's the only way we Americans can begin to understand the world of the Islamic extremists. What I understand is that I don't understand. I cannot begin to comprehend a life view that embraces martyrdom. Sacrifice is hardly America's middle name these days--and certainly not mine. Nor is sacrifice viewed as particularly admirable here. Seems a bit queer to most of us, truthfully. Over the top. A bit foolish, really. Why would you do something for nothing?

How can our military have been so ignorant (or were they just plain stupid?) as to hope that we could come in and squash these people, given their eagerness to sacrifice for their beliefs? And how many people--civilians, insurgents, and our own soldiers--have been sacrificed to that ignorance?

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Americans do understand sacrifice. As they are having sacrifice forced upon them. (Of course, those who are offering the sacrifice are not the same as those who are actually sacrificing.) And so we come back to the mothers. And fathers. They are sacrificing. Sacrificing their middle to lower class American soldier sons and daughters. Sacrificing their Iraqi civilian families whose families are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sacrificing all of our children, young and old. For what?

For what? I do not know.

Until tomorrow,


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