Monday, September 16, 2002
Are we really at war?
I listened to alot of stuff last week on the differences/similarities between the 9/11 attacks and the bombing of Pearl Harbor, trying to get a handle on why I might be so uncomfortable about all the sentimentalizing of this thing (other than my general angst against "chicken soup" sentimentalism in the first place). Here's what I see: in the 1940's, we were going to war, and everyone was caught up in the war effort. There was rationing of supplies, women getting jobs in the work force so men could fight (nothing sexist from me, just that lives changed in real ways in support of the cause), everyone was urged to buy war bonds to build the $$$ of the military, people held off on buying cars so that the machinery for war could be cranked out by the industry, etc etc etc.
But what do we have? A sentimental war, with sentimental stories of people fighting in a place far away, removed from our homes except for the sound bytes and streaming CNN.com video footage. We watch American Idol, Big Brother 3, the War on Terrorism, and soon Survivor Thailand. It's just reality TV, and we're pulling for the good guys like we pulled for Kelly and Justin (I'm not so heartless as to put Nikki on the "other side"). Yes, we all know someone who's been called up in the past year - but most of us haven't given up anything for them. We're not a part of the "war effort." We pray (I hope) that they'll be kept safe, but we're so far removed from the front and from the experience that we have no clue what's going on over there. So the media feeds us stories, and we're able to live vicariously through these young women and men who are giving themselves for freedom, and we think we have joined in the fight because we feel deeply for them. We give them commendations in lieu of participation, and we pat ourselves on the back.
And to top it all off, we celebrate the lives of the fallen by wanting a "patriot's day" declared nationally, and having "free jeans day" at work.
"Sold to an American..."