Generational War

Following up on my last post, in a way, I wanted to reflect a bit on our association, or lack-there-of, with war.

I was out the other night with a couple of American professors from the baby boomer era. The woman mentioned that she felt a responsibility towards Vietnam as it was her generation who was responsible for the war here.

It got me thinking about how that sense of responsibility is generally missing these days. Here we’ve been at war in Afghanistan for seven years and Iraq for over five, and yet the impact felt stateside is relatively mild.

There are no protests to match the rally of 75,000 that recently met in Portland, Oregon in support of the Obama campaign. Granted that a vote for Obama could be sense as a round about way to protest the way, it is rather safe, clean, and sanitized.

We all say we care, but signing petitions online is not the same as being willing to truly protest. I protested the sanctions against Iraq back in 1999, coming face to face with intimidating police tactics, but I haven’t so much as gone to a vigil against these wars.

I think that until the American people feel a sense of self-responsibility, not the kind that blames our politics, are we going to be able to really see things for what they are.

While we can’t do anything about what has been done, we can work towards progressive recovery from the wars we’ve waged. On our exit from Vietnam, we placed embargoes against the nation for the next fifteen years to punish them for our failure.

We must demand that when we do finally come to the realization that dropping bombs isn’t the answer, then we need to commit ourselves in earnest to a rebuilding effort that starts from within the people. Not just rebuilding for our own self-centered reasons. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be cheap. But without this follow through, all the damage that we’ve caused will simply be multiplied.


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