Today is Christmas Eve, and although I don't celebrate Christmas, I know that many of the troops serving in Iraq do. I find myself feeling very deeply for them and their families as I think about them being away from their families on such an important holiday.
It started me thinking about this war compared to other wars. Does anyone else feel like we at home are being asked to sacrifice exactly NOTHING while these men and women sacrifice their family time, their careers, and often their very lives in the waging of this war? Whatever each of us thinks about the reasons and justification for this war, I find it hard to imagine that anyone doesn't feel compelled to wonder, "so what is MY contribution to helping these soldiers succeed in--and perhaps survive--this conflict?"
The President has given us tax cuts. With his Medicare bill, he signed the largest entitlement program in American history into law (you were thinking Ted Kennedy had that honor?). He swears there will be no draft. He continues to exhort us to support the economy by spending.
Where are the ration cards? How are we still riveted on trash like Paris Hilton and shows like High School Reunion and America's Top Model when so many of our young men and women are dying in a foreign country? Especially those of us who opposed this war; what is our excuse for ignoring it in favor of surrounding ourselves with garbage? You can't tell me it's a means of numbing our pain at being at war. This war has barely touched those of us stateside. Could we maybe take the time we spend watching The Next Gilligan's Island jiggle show and perhaps do something to support the troops? If the military is too strapped to armor its vehicles and provide soldiers with flak jackets, could any of our better-off citizens perhaps consider donating their tax cut to save a soldier's life?
All of us--those who are vocal for the war and those who are vocal against the war--need to get our asses off our couches, out of our offices, away from the TV, out of our own little mini-dramas, and recognize that, for better of for worse, the war is happening. Men and women are separated from their families over Christmas. Many were killed just days ago in Mosul. Can you put yourself in the shoes of those families for even a millisecond? Can you imagine the grief of having your brother or son blown up 4 days before Christmas? Most of us can't. Why? Because we have not been asked or required to sacrifice anything in pursuit of this war. Again, I don't care if you think this war is the most evil perpetration upon humanity in world history; more than ever, then, your goal should be to get as many of these soldiers home alive as quickly as possible.
It's time to stop wringing our hands at the ongoing war while doing nothing in our daily lives to stop it or ease its pain for those involved; it is also time to stop waving the flag and complimenting "our troops" as a means of demurring on justifiable questions about the war's planning and execution. Both are offensive means of shielding ourselves from having to truly get involved.
As Christmas approaches, perhaps The Book of John says it best: "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth."
I John 3:18
Merry Christmas...to our friends and country(wo)men near and far. May next Christmas be one of peace.