Monday, January 13, 2003

let's talk about what transpired while kara and i were innocently eating lunch at a local friendly's yesterday. this family, consisting of mom, dad and a little girl of about six or seven, sits down at a table adjacent to us and within ten minutes there is a virtual eruption of emotion and raised voices. turns out the father is on a hunger strike against the impending war in iraq, and the mother is not very pleased about this turn of events. she is leaning over to the little girl and telling her that they can't eat because the man is stupid. the strangest thing about this was that it seemed that he wasn't telling them not to eat, just not eating himself, so her anger seemed slightly out-of-place. we're talking middle class in appearance, pretty normal people. and kara and i are leaning over our food, overhearing this tumult, and suddenly i am leaning, my palm on my forehead, and i wonder aloud: "if we're just sitting in a friendly's, and this is just a middle class family, does this mean this war could be as divisive as vietnam was?" kara and i finish our sandwiches and sundaes in relative deference to the serious issues that have now been raised. she says, "does this mean bush is a homewrecker?" we debate whether we can/should say something to this table. kara is brave enough to do it, while i run away. as she talks to the man about how we're against the war too (wife sulking of course), i'm standing by the ice cream cake freezer where the little girl happens to be.

me: hi, how are you? what did you order for food?
little girl: i got a cheeseburger and french fries.
me: yah? are you looking forward to it? are you hungry?
little girl: yah but i already ate my ice cream so i'm not that hungry.
me: you ate your ice cream before your meal?! how's that work?
little girl (looks at me): well, dan [or dad, i couldn't hear properly] is stupid and so we can't eat here and i'm bringing my cheeseburger home.

and then we looked for different kinds of patterns on the top of the ice cream cakes, and i felt it all rise within me. it's one thing to just be able to look at this as how messed up this family is and consider that as a horror. at one point, though, the mother said to the father, "What are you even doing?? It's not like anything YOU do is going to stop the war." and it is here where my political mind gravitates to, considering all the dynamics of that statement.

it is in dismay that i find myself agreeing with her on that point. this administration decided a long time ago to go to war with iraq, independent of the opinions of the rest of the world or of its own people, and there is little we can do to stop it, if anything at all. the best we can do is vote the putzes out of office two years from now. but that's far away, and i don't believe that the majority of the american public wants this war. i don't feel these politicians are representing me. i can't believe that going after saddam hussein is really the best thing to do right now to protect the lives of americans. so i write the letter to my representatives, and i call and talk to a staffer, and i call the white house comment line and learn that democracy functions only from 9-5 on monday through friday. but this doesn't change anything, this doesn't make chuck schumer change his mind. it definitely doesn't keep the ships of soldiers in the harbor at norfolk.

so what are you going to do? are you going to go "protest"? are you going to go join the legions of people who spend their saturdays chanting and clapping and yelling and listening to speeches given by people who are often too radical in the message? these people, at least half of whom don't even fully understand what they're protesting? these people, who protest everything and nothing at the same time?

no, you're not. you're going to write for your blog, read about watergate, apply to more jobs and graduate schools, and invest in a large bottle of rolaids for the day when the war starts, so you can sit in front of your television, popping antiacid after antiacid. and you're going to wonder who the hell the people in this administration think they are, and be annoyed that time and time again, they are arrogant and get away with it, proving that they actually have as much power as their swelled heads think they do. and as the administration gets more and more ridiculous, pushing more and more legislation that trounces civil rights of both non-citizens and citizens, giving our country a more and more horrible reputation in the world, saying more and more terribly uninformed or brutally negligent things, i am forced to wonder if this country is actually swinging backwards in progress.

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