Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Tue, Aug 16 2005

War Is Hell

The Times Online had an article today mentioning Cindy Sheehan's protest and the rising cost of war to her family's personal life. The end of the article referred to the increasing death toll of U.S. troops and how it is affecting Americans' support for our current administration's actions.

This isn't really a surprise. Global Security shows a March, 2003 article from the Chicago Tribune. That piece did a good job of showing how rising casualties in war tend to turn public opinion in a negative direction. When the military deaths from the war in Iraq reached 1000 last year there was more talk that public support for the conflict might begin to wane. Earlier this year NPR offered perspectives from David Segal and others on what might cause Americans to support, or not support, continuing military actions in war.

I would suggest that the waning support for war does not come from just a set of numbers. Our own little neighborhood was witness to the turmoil of a family who lost a beloved son in battle. When a child is killed there are other things that happen in families. Emotions are raw and any other difficulties in the family unit rise up and become extreme and make wars of their own. Family members polarize and take sides as they attempt to "do right by" the fallen son or daughter, mother or father. As a war continues, more and more of us either have these things happen in our own families or learn of these things as they happen to someone in our neighborhood, our church or our place of work. The changes to all our lives become heavier and heavier burdens as more and more people attempt to go on with life as usual, but can't. And it becomes difficult to watch those in office tell us that it's worth it all in the end when we can't see the end. Some of us can't even see tomorrow, or look forward to tomorrow.

The reason we hear such heated opinions on Cindy Sheehan's actions, even though almost none of us has ever met her personally, is that she's become a symbol for the passion of Americans everywhere.

We certainly all want to "do right by" our fallen troops. We just don't always agree on exactly how that should be done. It hurts. And maybe it should hurt. Maybe we should listen to one another vent and scream and cry and apologize and hold onto one another and do whatever it takes to get through it together. War costs something. War costs all of us something sooner or later. None of us go through it without severe consequence. Let's at least be honest about that.

posted at: 09:06 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

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