Last week I lost it -- at my own dinner party with one of my guests. What really upsets me is that I know better than to think that is a good way to change minds and influence people. Instead of remaining calm and thinking about the issues involved and being intelligently informed, I was overcome by the rage I feel about the implications of my country and what it has become and is becoming.
He asked me if I didn't think that the world and Iraq was better off without Saddam Hussein in power. I should just have said, "no".
Don't misunderstand me. Saddam Hussein is a villain. His government was cruel and unjust and many of his people suffered and died when he was in power. But the reality now is that Iraq is now a hotbed of terrorist nasties and is much more dangerous to the well-being of the rest of the world and its own people than ever Saddam Hussein was. The truth is that Democracy in Iraq is more elusive now than it was before the US occupied it. I am especially thinking about women. Women are now afraid to leave their homes with head uncovered; are unable to resume jobs; are threatened if they are unescorted in public. They were better off under Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein, who was put into power by the likes of the men who instigated the war against him, who was encouraged to think that if he went into Kuwait the US would turn a blind eye, would, I believe, have done anything to re-establish 'normal' relations with his greatest 'benefactor'. This thug knew which side would butter his bread -- and it would not be with terrorist cells that wanted his head and his country under Sharia Law.
The point is that it is nonsense to think that Iraq is better off and that the United States of America is safer. The whole raison d'etre for our invasion and occupation is based on lies and the result is a disaster for the US and our allies and most of all for Iraq and Iraqies.
In the back of my mind there has always been the niggling thought that at the end of the day Saddam Hussein will be back. And just over this past weekend there were reports that Saddam Hussein believes that is going to happen. This is not a prediction on my part -- one would think this impossible, but I rule nothing out because nothing in this whole debacle has been about truth or honesty or integrity. It's been about the America at its worst, America at its greediest, America at its most foolish.
And when I think about it all I am speechless with rage. I sputter like a dunce and that is going to change. Make no mistake, there is a battle going on -- it's bigger than any one country or ideology. It's about life's basics and it's a battle that has been on-going since the beginning of time only the difference is that now it spans the globe and encompasses all of us. Our lives are now beyond boundaries, the battlefield has been extended to the melting icecaps to the heart of New York City to the parched plains of Africa and the rain forests of South America; the battlefield includes the Bill of Rights where freedom of speech and the press is being undermined by dictatorial aruguments about 'national security' and 'executive powers' in the name of saving our 'democracy'! Ha! -- no one anywhere is free from the inanities of a super power run amok.
And the press is for the most part unquestioning. The press is encouraging blind adherence to what it calls patriotism, but which is in fact capitulation to the powers that have overcome them -- the media has been bought and is controlled. The last bastion is the Internet, where for the time being at least we can publish free thought, demand change and question, question, question. It is here that we can still find leaders who are also statesmen and where they can find a voice and look to hear ours; here that we have our voice and can demand change; it is here that we gather in our millions creating controversy, inviting comment, debate, discussion -- for we know what is at stake is the future of the freedoms our histories have worked so hard to attain and which are now encircled by the powerful and the rich -- insidiously turning ourselves against ourselves with emotional 'cut and run' sound bites and iconic arguments about a flag.
This is our Democracy lost, but maybe it is still waiting to be found.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Last Tuesday and Wednesday evenings I watched the American television production of Angels in America. Wow -- what a feast for thought-provoking discussion! It ranks among the best of American television productions for it's substance, it's acting, its direction and everything else.
With the current political movement to table an amendment outlawing gay marriage and the national divide this is bound to create, this production should be compulsary viewing. Because, for one thing, it shows how in one way or another we are all joined at the hip. We must stop using what we cannot understand to re-enforce our ignorance. I do not pretend to be comfortable in the presence of gay couples who are obviously in love. But I do believe that gay people have the right to be in love and to be recognized and that the more recognition there is, the less uncomfortable it will be for those, like me, who are not now. It starts with tolerance and with tolerance comes understanding and with understanding comes 'peace that passeth all understanding.'
The fact is that America promises everything to the healthy and to the ambitious, to those who promote monetary wealth. But it is not a place anymore for the down-trodden, the poor and the ill. It is a land of harsh reality. As a people we cannot together look at our own pain or our own uncertainty. Bonhomie is not love, is not well-being. It is shallow and escapist. As a country that is our reflection and it is what we have become. We want simple answers, black and white talk from our politicians, not depth and understanding. We think that the name of the game is 'hard ball'.
I say 'we' because like it or not that is what our government has become -- and our government is a reflection of ourselves -- If New Orleans was a disaster of incompetence, where did the 'power that be' come from -- the system elected them -- whether mayors or governors or congressmen/women or senators or the President. Blame the Republicans or the Democrats -- we are getting what we are responsible for -- namely politicians that put re-election before leadership.
I do hope that the people of our country will not be fooled into thinking that the most important issue before the nation is this unconscionable, probably unworkable, and sinful legislation. This is not democracy, this is moral and social tyranny.