December 15, 2004

Securing the Right to be Who You Want

Questing Cat has a very good post on how he's thinking about the world and his place in it. (QC is deployed in Iraq, FYI.) If anyone ever claims that our soldiers are brutal Gestapo maniacs, point them here.

Innocence and guilt. A simple process in America, or so it would seem. If someone has done wrong, then they are guilty, if they have not, then they are innocent. But here, that seems to carry weight which can not hope to be born. Every action you take here makes you guilty in the eyes of some one. When cultures around the world can gather at there TV sets and watch your every move, and judge you solely on the actions they see, then of course, you are guilty to someone. There are stories down here of a soldier killing a local child so burned and in pain from an IED that he didn't think he would live. A mercy killing. There is much talk in the news of a soldier putting a round in a body, or a casualty, or whatever, while clearing a house. What is claimed as a murder of a helpless person. I have, on occasion, known of an incident where a soldier engaged for all the right reasons, right down the line. But the target was wrong. But now the whole world can see it. And for them, judgment waits.

Little can describe the rhythmic chaos that ensues during a firefight. Engagement in Iraq is constantly sought, rarely expected, always prepared against, and brutally fought. That is the life that soldiers lead here. And state of mind is a soldier by soldier thing.

Politics. The world is full of ideas. Everyone has them, and it is part of the ego that one wants your ideas heard. Personally, I have always felt it would be best to finish my time here before I began to talk about right and wrong. Maybe with this experience I could find people whose writing I could follow. Who would give me direction? Learn from others. I hate the thought of telling others the course of things I have no concept of, and there are a million things out there to argue over. So many people totally self interested. God knows I am. I have spoken from here on a number of occasions on things I believe would benefit me and my kind. I fully realize I've gotten ugly about it too. But really, my interests are somewhat uniform among a fairly large group. I think all soldiers want armor when we have to go out in sector. I think we all want the Iraqis as placid as possible when we have to roll through their towns. And by a larger extent, I think this benefits all. We are the sons and daughters of America, and I know everyone wants to see us home. Well, at least most of you.

What I don't understand is how belief in a few issues that are not represented allows people to thoroughly dispense with the government around them. I once knew a girl who sowed an American flag patch to the seat of her pants because she was a democrat and George Bush was elected president. Therefore, America was not in her good standing. I guess it is my army brainwashing, I took offense to that. Often, I think the country at home will be like that for a long time. Divided on one side or the other. As much as we all have our views, I still accept us as one country.

[snip]

There is much in this world I can spend a life time trying to understand. The subtleties of pacifism and war. The lines between good and evil. The struggle of the soul for acceptance. There is much I could spend lifetimes debating. But I am simple person, with a complex life. I look and say simply, "Do I agree with that?" And go from there. I try hard to keep my view from warping to fit my statements. I try not to draw judgments that are irreversible. And I always try and afford courtesy to those around me. Even when I am fully armed. Even when we don't speak the same language. Even when I don't understand. I am not always a saint, and I have my moments, but mostly, I want the best for all.

Iraq has that chance. It has gotten there through one of the hardest times in its history. It has long to go before it can begin to be the countries that Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait are with no effort. There much that has to change for it represents itself, defend itself, and look after itself. Even then, I doubt its culture will much resemble the States. And I am glad. This country is its own. Let Germans be German, French be French, and Iraqi be Iraqi. I may not always like them, but they earn the right to be what they are. And here, we secure that right.

Go read the whole thing. Really.

Posted by Jeff at December 15, 2004 03:02 PM | Link Cosmos
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