Saturday, October 13, 2007

We Were Civilians


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We were civilians.


The war didn't rage really; there was just a steady flow of dead and dismembered soldiers whose names were on the Internet and on the news programs. The soldiers were black, Hispanic, white and Asian. Some of us paid attention and some of us didn't and some of us were devastated. If you didn't know any of the unlucky ones, then they were only statistics.


These statistics were given on the network news between the school shooting and the celebrity scandal stories. The numbers were tallied with somber patriotic video graphics. Maybe it was an American flag waving slowly, or maybe a combat boot-rifle-helmet combo. These graphics looked great on our high-def wide screen televisions. "What a shame," we said, shaking our heads. When the story about the latest breakthrough in the treatment of osteoporosis came on, we changed the channel to VH1 or ESPN and forgot all about the war.


We were civilians.


Some of us didn't think about the war at all.


With no draft, it was a voluntary thing to go to Iraq and get blown up. It was okay that those brave men and women were getting mangled because they were volunteers; no one was forcing them to enlist and reenlist.


If you could get a job and make decent money, there was no reason to go. If you came from a wealthy family, it didn't make any sense to go. And with the advent of yellow-ribbon car magnets, we had a convenient way to ease our conscience and support the troops at the same time.


That was our attitude anyway, and we went on with our lives as if nothing was wrong. Those were fascinating times, and we couldn't fit it into our busy schedules to enlist. We played newer and better video games, we surfed more rich and interactive websites on ever shinier and faster computers. If we didn't like the war, we could always say so on our blogs. We carried fancier, more feature-rich phones. We drove more technologically advanced cars, and while those cars were all built overseas, we didn't care because they had Ipod docks to give us music, GPS to give us direction, and DVD players to give us a break from the kids. Some of those vehicles got decent gas mileage, but most of them did not.


We were civilians.


Some of us drove massive pickup trucks and SUVs with shiny grills, and those things take gas. What a sense of awesome power these behemoths bestowed upon us as we moved between desk and cubicle and home and hearth. These machines carried us back and forth to work so we could pay our crazy mortgages.


We were civilians.


We didn't have time to go fight a war. Reality shows were coming up with more interesting twists. Starlets and singers were in and out of rehab. These were interesting times.


There were new drugs to keep us thin and happy. They put us to sleep at night. They calmed our restless legs and gave us everlasting erections. We had a pill for everything, so we were happy.


We were civilians.


Were other people making sacrifices? Sure, but we were willing to pay that price. Now we had a military base over the precious, sweet, life-giving Middle East oil.


With no draft, the rest of us could take it easy. There were sporting events to watch and alcohol to drink. We were civilians, and we did what our President asked us to do.


We went shopping.

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