This by Jesse Winchester has always struck home to me. Like it or not, we are animals with emotions (limbic system; evolutionary advantage; large brain; fight, flight or sex; who knows?). Plus that, I'm a Tennessean. Dismembered, but a Tennessean never the less. Even the son of transplanted Yankees dreams of green hills.
How to deal with this on a day to day basis:
How will these children ever learn to live with us in the world to come? What about all the pain and suffering,
How morbid, Dr. C. Ugh! But this is the reality of what we have created in Irak.
This has become a conflict which is very much going to define us for long into the future. So it gets you thinking. The stunning thing about the American Constitution, as originally promulgated and interpreted by the Citizens, is that all individuals are considered equal. That includes Iraki children.The insidious dismantling of that constitution began long ago, with the advent of American exceptionalism. Rather, the exceptionalism of a certain class of Americans (mostly white, mostly male, mostly Protestant, and overwhelmingly rich). It finds expression in the absolute certainty of the white Southerner that the black man is inferior (when the reality is that it is simply a different concentration of melanin found in the skin that differentiates white from black. The absurdity of using this as an index of superiority was aptly described by Mark Twain in "Puddn'head Wilson.")
The treatment of Native Americans wasn't much different as we see from Wounded Knee:
It is impossible to remove this strain from a population short of violence. At every turn, because of our geographic isolation and our technical skill (especially in constructing nuclear weapons), Americans have been unconsciously reinforced as being superior to other humans. I can say this with certainty about the generation that grew up in the 1950's and early 60's. A dent was made in this ideology with the Vietnam War. But still, America did not shirk from being responsible for the death of up to two million Vietnamese. We had, you see, our Manifest Destiny. The rich of America could not tolerate the meme of Communism (in reality, an extension of the Constitution's embodiment of the "all men are equal.") Even if it meant useless slaughter.
Furthermore the mere fact that we do not mourn the one half million dead and dismembered Iraki children, yet feel that less than three thousand dead Americans on 9/11 have "changed the world," shows that the real basis of our civilization (on oxymoron in this light) remains this exceptionalism belief. If is very plain that we will never learn.
This brings us to the Dissembler in Chief. George W. Bush has existed in a cocoon of exceptionalism since birth. While his age mates were dying in the jungles of Vietnam, he was drinking his way through the politics of Alabama. How such an uneducated man could have passed through Harvard and Yale ranks right up there with some of the better biblical miracles. His tenure as President has been marked by his absolute certainty that he is exceptional. That he can break laws and kill people without thought or remorse. That he needs not justify his actions. That he is unique and needs no conscience.
And he reflects us all as the most perfect mirror.