A Word for the Fallen – True then, True now

THE REAL WAR.... By Ken Kesey....the last thing he ever wrote I could have written this better on 9-11-'01, the day it was happening-- if I could have written. Everything was so clear that day, so unencumbered by theories and opinions, by thought, even. It just was. All just newborn images, ripped fresh from that monstrous pair of thighs thrust smoking into the morning sunshine. All just amateur cameras allowing us to witness the developing drama in sweeping hand held seizures. All just muffled mikes recording murmured gasps.... Now, more than a week has passed. The cameras are in the grips of professionals, and the microphones are in the hands of the media. Bush has just finished his big talk to Congress and the men in suits are telling us what the men in uniforms are going to do to the men in turbans if they don't turn over the men in hiding. The talk was planned to prepare us for war. It's going to get messy, everyone agrees. It's going to last for years and probably decades, everybody ruefully concedes. Nothing will ever be the same, everybody eventually declares. Then why does it all sound so familiar? So cozy and comfortable? Was it the row after row of dark blue suits, broken only by grim clusters of highranking uniforms all drizzling ribbons and medals? If everything has changed (as we all knew that it had on that first day) why does it all wear the same old outfits and say the same old words? Because we are talking not just about war, this time, but about the war above the war: the Real War. This war has already been waged, and it's not between the US and the Taliban, or between the Moslems and the Isralies or any of the familiar forces, but between the ancient gutwrenching bonebreaking fleshslashing way things have always been and the timerous and fragile way things might begin to be. Could begin to be. Must begin to be, if our lives and our children's lives are ever, someday, in the upheaving future, to know honest peace. True, the warriors on our side of this Real War seem few and flimsy, but we have a secret advantage: we don't fight our battle out of Hate. Anger, yes, if we have to, but anger is enough. Hate is the flag the other side battles beneath. It is the ancient flag of fire and blood and agony, and it waves over the graves of millions and millions. Our side's flag is a thin, airlight blue, drifting almost unseen against the sky. Our military march is a meadowlark's song among the dandelions. And our Real War rally isn't given any space at the United States Congress. Where can you hear it? Lots of places, if you listen. Across Dairy Queen counters. In the careful post office talk. The e-mail is where I've been hearing it, for days now, and the entries are getting clearer and more numerous. At first only ten or fifteen. Then fifty or sixty. And this morning more than three hundred! Here are a few chunks and pieces that I printed out: This is bit from Charlie Daniels e-mail; it came on the first day: "I'm still in a state of shock to see the Trade Towers fall and the Pentagon, the very symbol of military power in this nation, on fire. It's like watching a science fiction movie..." From Michael Moore: "Will we ever get to the point that we realize we will be more secure when the rest of the world isn't living in poverty so we can have nice running shoes? Let's mourn, let's grieve, and when it's appropriate let's examine our contribution to the unsafe world we live in. It doesn't have to be like this..." Valerie Stevenson: "Of late, I've tried to adopt a philosophy of loving everyone unconditionally. Tuesday morning that went out the window as feelings of outrage, revenge and retribution flooded my soul. Then I realized just how easy it is for these terrorists to control my feelings..." Deepak Chopra: "Isn't something terribly wrong when jihads and wars develop in the name of God. Isn't God invoked with hatred in Ireland, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Israel, Palestine? Is there not a deep wound at the heart of humanity?" Apache Lani: "This insensitivity allows people to live in a comfort bubbly making judgements for others' welfare that absolutely has nothing to offer towards societal progress, health, or even self-respect. I know in my heart (as a worldly and educated woman) that our country is guilty of the above..." Usman Farman: "I was on my back. This massive cloud that was approaching. I normally wear a pendant around my neck, inscribed with an Arabic prayer for safety, similar to the cross. A hasidic Jewish man came up to me and held the pendant in his hand and looked at it. He read the Arabic out loud and what he said next I will never forget: 'Brother, if you don't mind, there's a cloud of glass coming at us. Grab my hand and let's get the hell out of here!'" Radio Habana Cuba: "There is no joy here in Cuba at the events of Tuesday. No one is cheering or holding impromptu block parties to celebrate the most astonishing act of terrorism in history against what has been for Cuba an implacable enemy for 40 years. There is, instead, a profound feeling of shock, revulsion and compassion-- and very real apprehension about the cries for vengeance that emanate from every corner of the White House and the US Congress... Few doubt that Washington has just suffered the consequences of its actions across the globe. Even if Osama Bin Laden is found to be responsible, the people of the US should know that he was previously trained and used by the CIA in its war against the former government of Afghanistan. George W. Bush will seek to take the war to another part of the globe where more civilians can pay for the death of US civilians without their blood and disfigured bodies being shown on CNN. No solution will be forthcoming in the destruction of those deemed responsible. The enemy will still be there because the enemy comes from within..." J. Zwemer: "I am a former Marine, and would like to say that all that has happened is sickening me. I feel that our gov't has found its way into yet another major conflict. This bloodshed has got to stop! I know it is hard to think of peace when there are so many reasons to be angry." Carey: "...after my own street I walked one more block south, bringing me about 5 blocks away from the World Trade Center. There was a line of firemen, police officers, military, and press. There was little to see with the smoke. The most shocking thing, I realized, is that there is an entire area of downtown that is abjectly unlivable and terribly dangerous. There is what I would estimate to be 10 square blocks of utter human suffering. I have been told by a lot of people in the past 48 hours that they love me. Listen to the gift I have been given: this tragedy reminds me that I get to travel this Earth understanding how loved I am. Thank you all." Greg: "I don't like the word 'retaliation'. I think 'law enforcement' is the proper term. Most of the people in Afghanistan or Iraq or wherever were just born there and try to live the best live possible under the circumstances." The Dalai Lama, to President George Bush: "On behalf of the Tibetan people I would like to covey our deepest condolence and solidarity with the American people during this painful time. I am confident that the United States as a great and powerful nation will be able to overcome this present tragedy... It may seem presumptuous on my part, but I personally believe we need to think seriously whether a violent action is the right thing to do and in the greater interest of the nation and people in the long run. I believe violence will only increase the cycle of violence." Carolyn Adams Garcia: "If the Islamic peoples of the world are pushed into coalescing and cooperating against a common enemy that has no respect for them and their culture, we will be in a war with a world of over a billion people. People we have been training and selling weapons to, so that our warplanes, guns and missiles will be used against us." Tamin Ansary: "I am from Afghanistan, and even though I've lived here for 35 years I've never lost track of what's been going on over there... Some say, why don't the Afghans rise up and overthrow the Taliban? The answer is they're starved, exhausted, damaged, and incapacitated. A few years ago, the United Nations estimated that there are 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan-- a country with no economy, no food. Millions of Afghans are widows of the approximately two million men killed during the war with the Soviets... We come to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the stone age. It's already been done. The Soviets took care of that. Make the Afghans suffer? They're already suffering. Level their houses? Done. Turn their schools into piles of rubble? Done. Eradicate their hospitals? Done. Destroy their infrastructure? There is no infrastructure. Cut them off from medicine and health care? Too late." Lama Zopa Rinpoche: "May all the people's hearts be filled with loving kindness and the thought to only benefit and not harm. May the sun of peace and happiness arise and may any wars what are happening stop immediately." Chris: "Hate, huh? A real downer..." Suzzie and Robert: "We pray for those who imagine themselves to be the sole owners of the knowledge of God. Let the shroud of hatred be lifted from their souls, the veil of religious bigotry be lifted from their eyes, and the fire of anger in their hearts be quenched by the Healing Love. We pray that our leaders be guided to those actions that are just, and will spare the lives of innocents. We pray for comfort and healing for all those who were injured and the families and friends of all those who lost their lives-- and we pray for a global unity in which there is recognition of God as Love, Love without condition, Love unending." Lauren Rick: "As I was passing the firehouse this guy stuck his hand out to my dog's nose and she licked his hand and he said 'Thanks I really needed that' and I looked up and there stood a man crying gently..." There's a bunch more, but you get the idea. All open- hearted e-mail. And all certainly slanted because they are mailed to our intrepidtrips.com website. These people know who we are and what we believe in, and it can't help but make you a little proud as well as a little humble. But it's more than that. It's... WelI, I can remember Pearl Harbor. I was only 6 but that morning is forever smashed into my memory like a bomb into a metal deck. Hate for the Japanese nation still smoulders occasionally from the hole. This 9-11 nastiness is different. There is no nation to blame. There are no diving Zeros, no island-grabbing armies, no seas filled with battleships and carriers. Just a couple dozen batty guys with box knives and absolute purpose. Dead now. Vaporized. Of course we want their leaders, but I'll be damned if I can see how we're gonna get those leaders by deploying our aircraft carriers and launching our mighty air power so we can begin bombing the crippled orphans in the rocky leafless already bombed-out rubble of Afghanistan. --



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