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My son might come home from Iraq. But then again, he might not. He's been there a year, and seems to narrowly escape more often, the closer it comes to his return. He will be 21 on March first, if he makes it.

They say a picture's worth a thousand words. I agree. When my younger son, Joey, printed an eight-by-ten photo that his big bro, Jason, sent him by e-mail, I looked into Jason’s eyes -- still handsome; somewhat harder. Serious. Focused.

As I studied the picture, I was in the delivery room again, counting fingers, making sure he was physically intact. He'd always been a kid who played down any kind of physical pain or injury. Even as a little tyke, he’d ask for a Band-Aid, saying he had a scratch when he clearly needed stitches.

The day his distant voice came into my office over an Iraqi satellite phone telling me that it was his convoy involved in an “incident” –- in case I heard anything on the news, he wasn’t at liberty to say anything except that he was fine, although the media was already releasing details as they understood them. He said he was “okay” but I didn’t know what that meant, exactly. I did worry that Jason could lose an arm or leg and never tell me about it until he came home, as not to worry me.

We heard that a bomb had exploded beneath a Humvee on convoy outside of Mosul, where Jason is stationed, and there were injuries to soldiers of the 133rd -- his unit. Jason regularly went by Humvee to Diamondback for provisions from the PX and to pick up the pay for civilian workers from a bank there.

Reports indicated that one soldier from Maine was killed, others wounded. So, hearing is voice lifted a huge weight from my chest. Yet it was another month before I heard from him again and could ask all the questions that had been haunting me. Was he there when it happened? How close? How much had he seen? Even then, he didn’t tell me that it was *his* Humvee that had been bombed and ambushed, but luckily, he had been pulled from his regular detail that morning. He hadn't mentioned that the man who usually sat two feet from him, was blown to pieces.

Still, that was last April, and it turned out to be a dress rehearsal, seemingly designed to break me in. It's always something; especially now. The media coverage there is so thorough.

He's eating in his room these days because his chow hall is missing some walls, and another buddy of his was killed there, in a recent attack. One of the cooks from the Iraqi food service -- paid for by the US military in an effort to create peaceful relations with the Iraqis, and funnel revenue into their economy -- who served Jason his food, daily, walked in wearing a suicide vest that day. Jason had luckily left the mess hall just before eating, to lend an item to a friend. He felt the blast from his room. Someone called me and told me to turn on the television to channel 6, where I watched the report as they continued to account for soldiers, one at a time. After many hours when they reported that all the soldiers had contacted their families, and I had still not heard from Jason, I chose to think the best: if he had been hurt or killed, I would have been officially informed. Footage showed mangled bodies being loaded into helicopters headed for German hospitals. I never heard from Jason for a full month. Being allowed to call families was the result of special permission. Phone access was otherwise denied. Jason eventually told me that the reason he had not called, was that he wanted his fellow-soldiers who had children, and husbands and wives to call first, and ran out of time.

There were been other reports too, that kept me channel surfing with wadded tissues and a raw nose, on the edge of my sofa.

We, objective parents of soldiers, expect our sons and daughters to come home changed. We also know how the grim snapshots of war, close enough to touch, can change a man –- or woman -– in ways one can’t fully understand unless they've been close enough to smell it.

A letter –- snail mail -– is a precious gift, written in his hand. Yet, it seems to come via camel and the news is cold by the time it reaches my mailbox. E-mails and instant messages are more than comforting because they are current, and I can chat with Jason in “real time.” But those, too, are rare, and there is such a long delay for security purposes as the calls are monitored, that it seems we spend most of the time saying, "What was that? Excuse me?" as we talk over each other and have two conversations going at once.

Still, a photo says things that a 20 year old soldier may not think to mention to his Mom. His trapezoids are bigger –- he’s been working out. He has a farmer’s tan –- he has spent long hours in the Iraqi sun.

His walls are adorned with the sheets of random photos I'd attached to his e-mails over the past months: his brother’s school portraits, his sister making a dorky face, and his five-year-old brother flying kites and petting his new kittens. He actually made the effort to print them and hang them up. He does love us.

Is he homesick? And... are those my Oakley sunglasses hanging on the wall, that I had forgotten in his hotel room in Portland that bleak and snowy, pre-dawn morning he left for Fort Drum to prepare for his deployment to the war zone?

Jason, my firstborn –- who I vividly remember as a toe-headed three year old, carrying handpicked bouquets of dandelions across the field to Grandma -- now sports two tattoos.

In this picture, he’s holding -- with complete ease I might add -- a weapon that may save his life some day, or maybe a fellow soldier’s, or that of a civilian child, but could potentially assist in his own demise, or by its use cause scars to his psyche that may never heal. War is ugly and unpredictable, after all.

I reflect on a conversation I had with my mother when Jason was probably two. I told her that I would not support war -- ever, and if a draft was reinstated that affected him, I would want him to run for Canada. I just loved him too much to sacrifice him for some fat politician sitting behind a mahogany desk. I didn’t understand her surprised and her not-even-remotely-supportive reaction at the time. That was before I became a history buff.

I didn’t have a clear understanding of history back then -- or of the human condition. I didn't understand the potential of evil men in power, who are without conscience, who -- when left unchecked -- cause limitless pain and misery to countless people. Nor did I yet understand the kind of love that willingly looks away from its own sacrifices and pain to prevent the senseless abuses of masses of others.

Thank God I had gained a more realistic perspective of so many things before that day, when Jason, at age 18, signed the dotted line to become a United States Army National Guardsman.

To say this has changed our lives forever is an understatement. It has opened us to the reality of war and the living conditions of people across the globe that is far different from our own.

After six months in Iraq, Jason finally started sharing snippets of his life there with us back home. Now, when I pass a field where someone is burning brush, I'm reminded of the piles of rotting trash and so many more piles of smoldering garbage that litter the streets of Iraq where there is open burning. I think of how suffocating stench can be when combined with high temperatures. Here, we sit beside our fans when it’s eighty degrees, in a plush Maine hamlet, complaining of the unbearable heat, sipping a sweating glass of iced tea with the perfume of petunias wafting in through the dancing window lace. Our soldiers bake in one-hundred-thirty degree weather -– add ten degrees if you are in a Humvee or dump truck -- and try to ration water so they have enough for the day. Still, our guys enjoy luxuries the locals there don’t.

Here, we deem porta-potties a necessary evil and only use them when absolutely necessary, holding our breath the entire time. There, Jason appreciates his access to “port-johns” because the locals have no qualms about crouching wherever the urge hits, leaving their waste behind. You have to respect cats because they at least bury it. The rampant smell of human feces is considered normal. Add to that, their constant loose-bowel condition, because the water is bad. Iraqis wipe themselves with their hand. Some use water. Some use soap. Too many others, don’t.

When the Americans built a new school, complete with flush toilets, the Iraqis didn’t didn't want them. Many people used the same toilet, again and again without flushing, letting it pile up and over the rim; not for lack of understanding how they worked. They wanted to be able to vote. They didn't necessarily want to become soft by Western luxuries.

Many times, when Jason had eaten Iraqi food, he had to follow-up with an antidote distributed by the military for use when exposed to biological weapons. It also works for the symptoms that our soldiers contract from eating Iraqi food. They have to be careful in ways they had never had to think about, here. Rumor has it that an estimated eighty percent of all people living in Dyanna (a city north of Mosul where the 133rd is building a school and expanding an existing school) have worms.

I haven’t even mentioned the obvious atrocities concerning basic human rights because we are all so familiar with them.

But, let’s not talk about any of that. This war is about oil right? That’s all. It's not about freedom, and education, and democracy.

If we were to walk a mile in their shoes, would we be glad for the Americans willing to lift us out of the mire? Jason's comrades were shocked by American coverage of the war. It was skewed and only represented a tiny minority of disgruntled citizens. He was generally overwhelmed by the love and support of the local people. When he first saw the coverage sent to him by parents of a soldier in his unit, he sounded in a letter like he had been pierced through. "This is what they think it's like here? This is what they think we're doing? And against the will of the people? Wow... it's nothing like what we see here every day. Where do they find these people?"

When Jason's convoy passed by, kids would come running, with adults trailing quickly behind, to line the streets and cheer them on. Many held up small American flags that they carry on them, always. A young lady from our hometown sent volumes of video footage of their stay there. She left nothing out. But we never saw images like that on the news. There was, rather, a constant fear of running over a child because they flocked to the soldiers whenever they came through. And it eventually did tragically happen, creating a ban on soldiers handing out gifts, candy or money to the orphans. Jason saw it. And it remains one of the most difficult memories of his tour there.

And… have we already forgotten the absolute sense of vulnerability we all felt when we were attacked on our own soil? Do the numbers 9-11 still send the patriotic blood coursing through your veins? Do we think apathy would prevent more such tragedies?

We lived in upstate New York at the time. I sometimes wonder if that had anything to do with his decision to enlist. I had known people who were there when the towers came down. The details are unfathomable. One lady and a pastor ignored the announcement over the loud speaker, to stay where they were and to not leave the building, after the first tower was hit. Despite the warning, the two ran quickly down 43 flights of stairs and out of the building, just as the second plane hit the tower, tearing the landing gear off of the plane. As they ran, it dropped, just missing him. It hit her, splattering what been -- just seconds before -- her body in a watermelon-like explosion, covering him in pieces. All of the people who had heeded the warning to stay in the building, were killed. I was told that the pastor had runr past a severed head, not even knowing what or where he was running to. Just away. The last I heard, he was getting intensive psychological counseling and hadn’t yet slept -- weeks after the attack.

And, could we please stop pretending we know all the variables when it comes to any war? Do we really think that John Q Public is privy to every sordid detail of high-impact information –- the kind that nations rise and fall by? How naive to think we do. We cannot even be trusted with the recipe to Colonel Sander’s chicken. What would we do with sensitive top-secret information?

There comes a time when we just have to say, “Our soldiers are over there, let’s support them, and pray that their effort will not be in vain and that it will save and improve the lives of many others.”

“How’s Mom doing?” That’s a question I get a lot. I say that I’m doing fine. I say that Jason is a very grounded kid and he just rolls with the punches, which makes it easier for me. I say that kids his age die every day in car crashes, drug overdoses and freak accidents state-side, so it’s more a matter of fate than circumstance.

I tell them that our five year old prays for Jason every night and assures me that because he does, we have nothing to worry about –- Jason will be okay.

But more honestly… it’s like this: I find myself staring at the guys in BDU’s getting into a broken down Chevy at Dunkin’ Donuts and wonder where they’re going and how unfair it is that they're paid so little, while renta-cops are going over there because our government pays them a thousand dollars a day. No commitment, they can back out anytime, but they can cash in.

When I stop into the video store, it seems like half the movies on the shelves are war movies and the actors on the jackets all wear Jason’s face. When the GI Joe from his chocolate going-away cake was floating upside down in cold dishpan water that was brown and lumpy with crumbs, had one boot missing, I shivered at the grim images of soldiers dieing in the mud and prayed this was not some horrible preparation for me of what was to come for my son.

When my five-year-old took the same GI Joe from the counter and wrapped its head and feet with electrical tape because he was a prisoner of war, I was horrified. I scolded him and removed the tape as if it were some little Jason voodoo doll.

When I get a patriotic e-mail, I cry –- nearly every time.

The number 133 -- his troop number -- jumps out at me from printed texts, road signs and doctors reports. And I stop and pray for our troops.

When I hear a helicopter, see a military vehicle or even some paint-ballers wearing army boots, I wonder where Jason is at that exact second. I wonder if he has anything for his acid reflux, how his blistered feet are doing and if he still has heat rash so bad he can hardly walk. I wonder if he was mortared today.

When I see a yellow ribbon, I wonder how long it will be before he comes home, and if I will actually see him alive again. I trust I will. But, a stronger, wiser me that lives in my deepest parts, prepares me every day for the possibilities.

I take long rides, sometimes, so I can stop being strong for an hour without witnesses. If I see someone that I know at an intersection in my hometown and I’m weeping, I wonder if they think I’m having problems in my marriage, or if I've been drinking. Small towns are like that.

I check my e-mail every time I pass my computer and I feel a mild sense of panic when we miss a phone call -- in case it might have been him -- never knowing if that might have been the last time I could have heard his voice.

When I thank a veteran for his or her service and give generously when they are handing out poppies, I don’t think they understand my sincerity. I had an intense respect for veterans long before Jason joined up, but this personalizes it.

It’s time for this article to end, because my five year old will be up soon and will want to go to the park. I’ll have to wake up my fourteen year old, because he would never do that on his own, and I have some letters and packages to get in the mail to Jason.

Now, with all things said, if I had to choose two words to sum up all of the thoughts and feelings that I swim in every day, they would be, “no regrets.”

I am proud of my son and all the men and woman serving now -- as well as all those who served before them and those who will follow.

And I hope and pray that there will always be enough unselfish men and women to step up and do whatever is necessary to keep our nation safe. To all of them -– hats off and “Thank You!”

Felicia Stone 2004


------
Here, I share, with stark honesty, my life.



Comments

The following comments are for "My Son Might Come Home From Iraq"
by FeliciaStone

Felicia: From the bottom of my heart...
...I thank YOU for your heartfelt and thoughtful words. We truly need to use all of our hearts and all of our minds to try to comprehend whatever fraction of the Truth we can take in. We also need the humility to accept the fact that, no matter how hard we try - how much we read, how much news we watch, how much we debate among ourselves - we will never know it all. We will probably not even succeed in fully learning everything we "need" to know.

Your words bring us more of the Truth, with the reminder that its full nature is not for our individual minds to hold in this life. Perhaps the best we can hope for is that together, humankind can learn enough to sustain us, and that those of us blessed with freedom, peace and plenty can learn to bring some of that to others through whatever means are possible.

Please convey my sincere thanks, and those of my husband, to your son for the honorable work he is doing. We can never know if what we do will have a lasting benefit on humanity. How many of us at home, safe in our cushy jobs, can say our work will do so? I'd say he stands a much better chance than most of us of changing someone's life for the better. I, for one, appreciate it deeply, and I salute him.

( Posted by: LinnieRed [Member] On: January 28, 2005 )

LinnieRed
Linda,

I can't begin to tell you how much your thoughtful response meant to me. I will pass your "thank you" to my son, who God willing, we will see in the flesh in early March. He has received his official papers to return to the US!

I drempt the other night that my own small home town was in the throws of war; that our familiar places had been destroyed, that one of our prosperous shop owners was wailing in the rubble, and mud remained where there had been grass and flowers. How personal it all became.

I dreamt that my six year old son was running from soldiers who overtook him and killed him before my eyes. And even with such loss and sacrifice - even seeing my baby bloodied in the street, my intense emotion was to press forward and keep fighting until the evil dictators that had invaded our land, raped our women, and taken away our freedom were chased from our country.

The following morning, as I mulled over those images and emotions, I imagined that it must have been like that here, in America, back when we were fighting for our own freedom; even if the atrocities weren't as sickening as what goes on in the middle east today.

I was reminded that the majority of Iraqi's are embracing the opportunity to have freedom. They too, are losing loved ones. The mortars fall in their villages; yet they understand the hope of freedom, just as we did.

The Iraqi soldiers (those fighting for democracy), are firing on their own people in their own streets. I cannot begin to imagine how difficult that is for them.

I felt, from their perspective, a desperate appreciatiation for anyone willing to offer their strength and support when ours isn't enough.

Each day, I get a clearer understanding.

Thank you again for taking the time to respond so generously.

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: January 28, 2005 )

Thank You for writing
First of all, let me thank you for writing. You tell your story very well. So say “I feel your pain” is so trite. But when one writes well enough ... I think it’s true.I’m grateful to you and your family for your sacrifice. And I’m especially grateful to your son and all the other soldiers who are out there defending our liberty and safety and in general being good will ambassadors around the world. It’s not that I think we should reinstate the draft really, but there’s an entire generation now that thinks life in these United States of America is “the norm” for the entire world. They seem to think that patriotism and competition are bad things. They can be misused, of course, but with great privilege comes great responsibility. And we, in this country, are very blessed (or privileged.)

( Posted by: Gramma [Member] On: January 30, 2005 )

Felicia: On this historic day...
...when so many Iraqis are daring to come out and vote - so many risking their lives for the sake of a chance for freedom - they, your son, and you are in my thoughts. If the prayers of an agnosic bear any weight (To Whom it May Concern...?) I'm praying in my own awkward, inept way for all of you.

So many pieces I see posted on this site emphasize everything that is wrong about the United States' history and it's current condition. I don't dispute that there is much reason for shame in our past and present, yet there is also so much that is good and right. We rightly are ashamed of the legacy of our treatment of Native Americans and of the Africans we enslaved. Yet people of all colors from all around the world have long risked everything to come here. Did they have reason to believe they could hope for a better life, or were they just all a bunch of masochists?

Yes, we have misused our military might to tragic ends. Yet, how often after we have defeated another nation's military (say, Germany's or Japan's?) have we tried to help restore that nation to greater freedom and prosperity than it knew before? I really don't believe that EVERYTHING we do is wrong!

Like Sam Cooke, I don't know much about history. I just know enough to know that I'm not qualified to make a final value judgment on a story that has not yet ended - i.e. the story of humankind. Maybe it's a personality thing - I tend to take a "wait and see" attitude and hold all necessary decisions tentative and, by necessity, based on insufficient data. Others probably could not stand to function that way. They need to say, "This is the way it is: the way I see it today." Hey - whatever makes it possible for you to get out of bed in the a.m. is right for you.

Sorry to ramble on so. This probably qualifies as a "Rant" in its own right, but I hoped to get this message to you ASAP. I hope that in the midst of your inevitable fear and the agonizing wait for your son's return home, you can find some peace for your heart and mind. I wish you pride and joy.

( Posted by: LinnieRed [Member] On: January 30, 2005 )

Iraq -68 percent voted
Linnie,

Thanks again for your insightful post. I have decided to print these responses to put in the scrapbook I have been building for Jason that I will give him when he returns in March.

Yes - what an historic day in Iraq and how very exciting to be a part of it!

I was so pleased to see that 68 percent of the Iraqi's voted in their first election!! Hmmmm.. for those who feel we are just forcing an agenda onto these people that they neither want or understand is hard to support.

What was the percentage of American's who voted in our last election?

All interesting stuff...

We are counting down the days now. Jason is packing to come home and what a wonderful departure gift for these soldiers the election is has been!

Thanks again,

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: January 31, 2005 )

Turnout
Turnout is almost always strong in a first election. It's new, it's exciting, then reality sets in and people realize they live in a puppet state, and they stop voting. That's been the pattern everywhere else, anyway. Nor eason why it would be any different in Iraq.

Really, the stat should be: "68% of those who were not slaughtered managed to vote". Of course, the dead (having been "liberated" from their bodies) didn't have the chance.

( Posted by: Viper9 [Member] On: January 31, 2005 )

Thank you for reading
Viper,

You have been very outspoken in regard to the gross problems with our country/ government/ leaders etc.. I wish I were as well-read as you, perhaps I would have reason to be so bitter and frustrated as you seem to be. (Perhaps ignorance is bliss?)

Curious... how much do you know about the people who have been slaughtered there (historically) because of the culture and leadership - abuses - prior to our involvement? How do the numbers compare to those lost in this attempt to have more control over their lives?

I wonder why the people were dancing in the streets, standing in long lines to vote (out in the open after all the threats that they would be killed)and willingly flaunting their inky fingers with so great a personal risk?

And... please tell me... to where will you soon be moving - because this place (the US) is so horribly evil and unfair in almost every way? Is there a place we should be looking to call home, so that we can live better? I'm not up on my social studies and geography to date. You might be.

Also, what have you done to change what is wrong in your opinion? You've listed many things in your writings, how many of these things have you attempted to change - in tangible ways?

Perhaps you have - I'm just not aware. Please enlighten me. I'm always interested in the opinions of others and what forms those opinions.

Thanks again for commenting here. I continue to enjoy reading your posts.

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: January 31, 2005 )

John Q Public
Your article is intriguing and touching. I will say this, though. John Q Public has been given a major role in running the world. By supporting Bush, the public neglects its duty to democracy, in my opinion. While I greatly admire the troops in Iraq, I question the intentions of those that put them there. But since the thing is done, I hope we can help Iraq to a bright, democratic future.

( Posted by: Seanspacey [Member] On: February 2, 2005 )

Felicia
These things are scattered throughout posts over a long period of time. And there's a lot of information out there for those who choose to actually look for it instead of being blissfully spoonfed by propaganda.

I've been just as outspoken in my criticisms of Canada over the years. Over Christmas I had an argument with some people who were (I thought) a little TOO critical of the US, who thought it was an Empire of Pure Evil. My position was that the American government isn't especially evil, cruel or selfish -- it just has so much power that those tendencies are there for all to see, and those tendencies are actually relaized in widespread suffering. Power on that scale has, and probably will, always lead to the same abuses, the same atrocities. If Canada had the world's largest army, I'd expect it to do the same. I wouldn't like it, but I'd expect it.

I'm not bitter, perhaps a little frustrated. I understand the psychology behind those who scream about the need to "support our boys"! It amkes psychological sense, though of course not moral or rational sense.

Saddam was certainly not preferable to Shrub. In many ways they're about equal in terms of their responsibility for death and suffering (and so are Clinton, Papa Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, and Kennedy. Prior to them, I'm not sure). Shrub has caused, what, 150,000 deaths by this point? He comes by it naturally, given his Papa's support for Saddam's atrocities as VP in the 80s, not to mention his support for Latin American terrorists.

Those who died and suffered under Saddam, at least, weren't being decieved into dying for "freedom" and "democracy". Many in Iraq are -- they buy into Bush's deception. Others aren't. Tragically, many of the latter have taken to violence as well.

There are no good guys in any of this, you see. That's no cause for bitterness, because it's never been otherwise and we'd be foolish to expect anything else. I believe positive change is possible, but distant.

( Posted by: Viper9 [Member] On: February 2, 2005 )

Thanks for coming back
I was hoping you would come back and comment again.

I think we are at a place in history where the media has abused its power to the point it cannot be trusted to give unbiased information (and finally, the masses are figuring it out, not the minority).

Due to the information super-highway, that began to move us toward having the ability to access more, varying opinions and facts.

Now, however, I think people have become victims of their own inability to research facts, and take the lazy root of reading all the articles - and so much propaganda on both sides, that we are yet again swimming in oceans of hearsay without the credentials to have access to the actual paper trails that prove or disprove what we read.

I've been amazed at how well some information is presented - so well that it is actually the people with greater intelects who are duped by it.

I'm amazed to see that there are large groups of people who do not believe we actually have a space program and have not walked on the moon,

and even larger groups of people who believe the holocaust never happened. All this while those who lived this history live and breath.

It's amazing.

Thanks for the thought-provoking response!

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: February 2, 2005 )

More Felicia goodness
You're right! Well, I agree anyway. :)

( Posted by: Viper9 [Member] On: February 2, 2005 )

Felicia ,LinnieRed,Viper9
As i read through all that both of you have written it gave me such a warm feeling inside.I could not help but marvel about how well you all write : marshalling your arguments , buttressing these as appropriate -and finally setting the whole thing forth in such a perfectly coherent and well-put-together fashion -with powerful appeals to both reason and emotion.

I suppose , rhetoric notwithstanding , much can be said on both sides .And perhaps the twain may never meet.

There is however one question that nags me and refuses to go away . On the face of it it may seem totally unrelated , however were you to look more closely you might see it is inextricably tied to much of this . The point is the following :

In the big bad world of the economy , more and more jobs are being shipped to lower wage ares .

This of course is of enormous benefit principally to Big Business -there are those who call it Crony Capitalism - and Big Politics.

However ,given the ever -increasing rate at which this is happening , one may well wake up one morning - metaphorically speaking- a few years down the line ,and find there are very few jobs available - and that too only specialist jobs requiring years of very advanced training , university education and so on.

At this point the principal options available 'en masse' would only be in the Armed Forces . One would thus have the spectre of millions signing up simply to put food on the table .The problem will then become one of keeping a huge standing Army , Navy , Marine Corps and Air Force on a tight leash -for the millions ,then under arms would ,quite naturally ,become restive .

It is at this stage that the scenario threatens to turn dangerous. The Goverment would perforce have to engage in some blood letting in regions as far removed from the West as possible -using a variety of pretexts.The troops could thus let off some steam by shooting up distant parts of the globe ..engaging in brush fights , punitive strikes and perhaps in minor holy wars - a most unfortunate term for someone totally disinclined to blaspheme.

Thus ,something as innocuous as jobs being lost over time ,could ultimately lead on to world peace and stability becoming more threatened.

( Posted by: RJKT [Member] On: February 3, 2005 )

New twist - thanks for commenting
RJKT,

Thank you for throwing in something that is better contemplated now, than blind-sighted by later.

My fear, about ten years ago when I was contemplating politics more than now, my fear was that the UN was going to have the power to engage American troops without the consent of the US, just the majority of the UN vote. Scary stuff.

As with most things, their origin was perhaps
either necessary and timely and/or honorably motivated. I'm going to be generous here and say that was the case with the UN.

However, as with everything from the PTL Club to the daunting political machinery of the United States, the UN (because it is manned by humans)has become too powerful, and is riddled with countless personal agendas.

Sadly, how few people can be honest and genuinely good, and do what is best for the next guy, or the masses - if and when they have the power to serve their own interests instead?

As for the idea that we will need to rely on the military as a means of income - I believe, to some degree, that it is already happening. It has for years. Look at all the underprivaledged and/or academically challenged people who have turned to the military for a career?

Some do it to get away from a bad home life, street gangs, bad economy in their own hometowns, etc. (But, the military has raised the bar, and I have known people who were disqualified for not being able to pass the admissions tests).

However, on a larger scale, I am going to look at the glass half full here. I have been watching the jobs march over our borders for years and observing the results.

There were a couple of trends I saw here. When I was 17, I graduated. I had taken my share of college prep courses, but did not know (despite numerous visits to the guidance counselor) that there were ways to fund my education. I thought "some had the money others didn't." I was accepted to three colleges, one with a small scholarship. But, I had no money.

I took the only job I could find, working in a shoe factory. GHBass was founded and still ran a factory in the town bordering mine. I worked there for 9 months before sustaining a lower back injury (while moving cases of shoes) that still controls my every decision.

Not many years later, the factory closed. People didn't know what they would do; entire families had worked there traditionally since its founding. (The jobs were sent overseas.)

A second major event happened. International Paper Company had a major strike in my hometown that turned the towns inside out - and received much international coverage. Much to the shock and disappointment of the workers, people boldly crossed the picket line to earn the income that had seemed pedigreed to some extent prior to the strike. It was the first time the union was broken in an IP mill, worldwide.

Again, people said the towns would fold... people would be forced to move away... people would starve.

But, what happened rather, was that the well-to-do learned to do with less. People worked at hobbies and in less than desirable jobs to make ends meet. They had new appreciation for their jobs and their assets (and for some - even their families). And they learned who they were, without the prestige of the good job, or the family job.

Small businesses cropped up all over the place. People took classes and upgraded their skills. People who had refused to sit in front of a computer, were forced to embrace technology.

These hard times opened up endless possibilities to so many people, contrary to what was anticipated.

Much good has come from these changes.

I really do have faith in the resourcefulness and creativity of Americans, and Maine people in particular. I embrace the value of hard work if it's motivated by goals.

And just like the intense challenges I have faced in my own personal life, "if it doesn't kill ya, it can only make you stronger." I am a better person for all the adversity I have experienced. I would never had chosen so much pain, knowingly. But I would never - at this point - turn back the clock and re-write it.

I hope we never see a day where the military becomes the bread and butter of the masses. As you so effectively put it, I agree... if that became a reality, what a pandora's box it could open.

Thank you for posting here. I loved looking at this in a new way.

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: February 3, 2005 )

Intriguing . . .
. . . possibilities, RJKT. Something to think about.

Felicia makes a good point as well (and tells an interesting story, to boot! A writer!): the military has always had economic clout. It's been one of the more reliable sources of income for the lower classes, which is why the poor comprise the bulk of the forces currently in Iraq killing and dying for the interests of the wealthy.

But, also, the military has been a source of income for the wealthy in several ways. It's used to secure overseas markets and natural resources (as in Iraq), and it's used for Research and Development. See, R&D is expensive, so a lot of companies don't put much money into it (in terms of a percentage of expenditures). But governments step in. They prop up companies by paying them to conduct research for military purposes. The military gets first dibs on the results, and eventually some of it passes into consumer society.

There's a LOT of money in that racket.

( Posted by: Viper9 [Member] On: February 3, 2005 )

Your're right on target
Viper,

Yes, I agree with every statement you've made here. Also, wars have generally helped the economy...

Another interesting thing to note: even a lot of our munitions that formerly created jobs here in a time of war, are being outsourced so to speak - made or assembled in other countries.

Which brings us to something else to ponder: Remember in Schlinder's List, how not one bomb from his factory worked properly?

Are we making our own perverbial bed? If so, I hope I'm not around to sleep in it. (Even worse, our children might.)

Felicia

( Posted by: feliciastone [Member] On: February 3, 2005 )

Felicia , Viper9
Felicia

May I say i was extremely moved when i read your account of how parts of your life were intense ,uphill struggles.I only wish many of us could have your doughty , never-say-die approach to make it despite the odds.

Another thing : i've really enjoyed your poetry among many others on this site. On a wistful note ,i only wish i could come up with work like that. Unfortunately penning delicate, dainty lines .. hinting at deep unrequited emotions or profound earth-shaking insights and epiphanies... are totally beyond me.

The most i could possibly do is write cheap hack-like poetry about War and Destruction - the other side alas- the 'good' side- being rather hard to declaim in deathless verse..Eagle-eyed critics would have a field day panning my work.Be that as it may..

You both are absolutely right. Militarism definitely includes the military industrial complex -which stands to benefit enormously every time the nation goes to war- because the entire range of materiel procurement ,quantum leaps to the 'replacement level' instead of muddling along at the much lower 'maintenence level'.

Viper, the point you make about the casualties being from the poorer classes is absolutely true.Right from WWI to the present day ,this has overwhelmingly been the case..the poor dying in droves on distant battlefields ,while for the children of the rich ,life continues to be one big party.

However from the politicians perspective ,among other things, war stiffens the national resolve and dramatically heightens the overall national morale...certainly a win -win situation for them.

There is one more issue that looms - Global Warming and Climate Change.Here ,we are up against the sheer numbers - 1 billion of 'us' and 5 billion of 'them' and counting...

Unfortunately the only way out seems to be restoring the balance of nature by paring down the numbers . Natural attrition and cataclysmic events can only do so much.To take a cynical view ,this is where we could do with some help from GWB and Tony -his rather duplicitous , shifty comrade in arms.

Of course one is not talking about 'lebensraum' - for who would want to frazzle and die of thirst in the deserts -or swelter and wilt in the tropics.Its just the rather dreadful thought of global warming coming home to roost- making the summers insufferably hot and the Christmases no longer white .

( Posted by: RJKT [Member] On: February 4, 2005 )





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