Where I’m at: Arlington (t-minus 18 days to Brazzaville…if all goes well)
What I’m doing: feeling America’s fear, albeit manifested differently
Why I’m posting: “a post a day”…would be a 10,000 fold increase
Last week, terror struck in Tuscon. Tragedy, definitely, as I would imagine nearly all know by now. A Congresswoman shot at point blank range – miraculously surviving – and nearly two dozen others shot, many dying, including a federal judge (which perhaps gets to me even more than the shooting of the Congresswoman – though only slightly – because of the presumed independence of the judiciary). That gunmen was stupid, senseless, and horrible. Cowardly acts don’t make a revolution.
But as I said, terror also struck, and probably struck more broadly since it affects all of us, not just those at the end of the gun sights. I purposefully didn’t comment at length on all of this last week (as well as the many other newsworthy stories recently) because I didn’t think I could control my emotions. I’ve widely quoted Eugene Debbs’ comments from U.S. v Debbs when he stated, “Gentleman, I abhor war. I would oppose the war if I stood alone.” And while he was speaking of the World War, I often paraphrase this quote to apply to guns and fighting generally.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have been in fights and I have fired guns (though not since losing my father and hopefully never again), and I can appreciate the power that one feels at that moment. But it is precisely that power that is terrifying to me. Terrifying because people mistake it for confidence, righteousness, and something other than simply a short cut to win arguments that they are too cowardly to fight with their words and a lifetime of action. And so far from simply seeing the terror in that Arizona gunchild, I see that terror in our reactions – politically and otherwise. Sadly, that terror isn’t uniquely American. I suppose that a belief in everlasting life permits a potentially cathartic feeling to someone as they douse themselves in gasoline and set themselves ablaze in front of a Parliament, as demonstrators (not terrorists) did in the last week in Tunis, Cairo, and Ouagadougou. Nevertheless, it shows fear rather than fearlessness.
And it manifests itself in many ways. My chief fear at this moment is (perhaps sadly) that I won’t pass my French exam next Thursday and that I won’t be sent out to post for another month or two. But I realize that my fear is just a reflection of my desires to get out and do my job and try to continue to better the world and protect America and others. Yet I know this fear isn’t because of an Arizonan nutjob (note: not a dig at Sen. McCain). It was present before that, as it has been for many. It’s not terrorism. It’s not government. These things are escalators perhaps, but not relevant to all the world. I suppose Sartre would say existence…but is existentialism even relevant anymore? Maybe it’s the fear that Google will soon run our lives. Actually, that would make organization a bit easier.
So where is this fear creeping in from? And how best to address it? Seal ourselves off (by country, by individual?)? Find the source? Help!!!
Who said it: Sidney Poitier, whose passing I didn’t blog about. Sorry, Sidney.
Why it’s relevant: well, something has to be relevant about this post. Pointing out my error is always relevant.
The quote: “So much of life, it seems to me, is determined by pure randomness.”