Not really at war, not really at peace : LUSENET : Exposing Rightwing Corruption : One Thread

Everybody Just Peace Off Not really at war, not really at peace -- how do we ever know anymore?

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Peace or war. Offense or defense. Angel or evildoer. Remember that time when you knew for certain? Remember that time when you were at least relatively sure?

Remember how it was when you could be reasonably confident the country was either peaceful and relaxed or raging and aggressive, either in a composed political and military posture sans any major lethal threats to our well-being, or actively warmongering and stealing young hormonally ravaged boys fresh outta high school to be trained for two weeks and then shipped overseas to kill scary foreign people with whom we strongly disagreed?

Those were the days.

Because now we just do not know. Now we are perpetually in flux. Now the concepts of peace and war are blurry and malleable and bizarrely, disastrously interchangeable.

Take right now. We are at war. Or rather, they tell us we are at war, despite how Congress never approved it and the enemy is an abstract concept and it still feels like peace and everyone is operating more or less like we're at peace and we function essentially the same on a day-to-day basis.

Daily life is still all about traffic jams and walking the dog and bickering with spouses, Starbucks and shopping and having too many babies and buffing the SUV with the American flag, and except for those pesky diminishing civil liberties and all the government-fabricated fear, it all feels perfectly normal.

And yet we know right this very minute our troops are making Swiss cheese out of numerous Afghan mountainsides and slaughtering evildoers left and right and Dick Cheney is personally polishing the nose cones of 1,000 short-range nukes aimed right at Syria and North Korea, and our fighter jets are circling Iraq like lurid vultures, waiting for the signal from W to go ahead and start bombing in the name of all that is good and virtuous and petroleum-based.

This is the feeling. We are neither at peace nor at war. We are neither completely stable and positive and making progress as a species and a society, nor are we completely unstable and devolving and burning flags and books and donating household appliances to be melted down and turned into Patriot missiles. Schizophrenia -- it's the new American pastime.

You could almost argue that they want us in a state of perpetual speculation and ideological tangle. You could almost say Bush & Co. have stumbled dumbly across the ideal balance, a state of both national and hence individual unrest and uncertainty and patriotic confusion, the perfect state in which to play nifty oil-based war games without actually getting anyone overly angry or reactive.

In short, you should not be too convinced we're really at full-blown war and gouging the budget and killing thousands of Afghan civilians because then someone might protest and someone might start asking questions and then GW could get flustered and the entire house of cards could collapse any minute.

And yet we cannot be allowed to become overly complacent and confident and tolerant, because then the citizenry would not be so easily controlled or brainwashed and the FBI will have more difficulty justifying reading your email or tapping your phone or monitoring what you read at the library.

It's a mode of sighing national disfunctionality that ultimately leaves a sour taste in the collective mouth, an odd sense of betrayal and ennui, a case of the existential blahs wherein the "fight" against terrorism and rage and religious bile appears neither fabricated nor genuine, but rather some sort of mucky in-between, a black hole of corruption and politics and hate and ego.

It leaves you with the feeling that there is really nowhere to turn but inward, to perhaps follow what the Dalai Lama and other great spiritual leaders have said recently, that if we really want to help fight the hatred and terrorism following the horror of 9/11, we really need to fight the hatred and terrorism we have inside us.

Of course you are first required to step outside the bleeding-heart pacifist New Agey sentimental cliché and get down and dirty with the self, because this sort of peace has nothing to do with chanting and windchimes and licking trees, but work, real work where you reevaluate and question and peel away preconceptions and false patriotism and blind faith and really get down and dirty with the self, generate peace from within, the hard way.

Because it's certainly easy to scowl and shake our fists at foreign countries and weird religions and blame everything on others, easy to ignore our own issues of hate and corruption and our own inner terrorists and merely react to all the mealy-mouthed confusion and rage by pointing the finger elsewhere.

When in fact getting at the truth of what we are and what we do and how we fit into the world can be much more awkward and painful and frustrating, and not nearly so easy. But it is so worth it.

Because the bottom line is, if you really want to know peace in this time of confused all-American warmongering, if you really want clarity and a sense of certainty about where we stand as a country and as individuals -- and if you really want to infuriate our increasingly paranoid and secretive and invasive government -- you really gotta turn that pointed finger back at yourself.

-- Cherri (whatever@who.cares), June 27, 2002

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