March 19th, 2003



So, we're currently at a high/orange/ alert status, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Want to know what happens if we go to red alert during the war? No you don't.

"Red means all noncritical functions cease".... "You literally are staying home, is what happens, unless you are required to be out" .... "Noncritical would be almost all businesses, except health-related." .... "The state will restrict transportation and access to critical locations." .... "You must adhere to the restrictions announced by authorities and prepare to evacuate, if instructed. Stay alert for emergency messages."

And now, time for yet another obligatory Jello Biafra reference...

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that shutting down a country of ~300 million people because someone somewhere might try to plant a bomb today (as opposed to tomorrow or next week...) might be overreacting just a bit? What does this *really* mean to people? If someone plants a series of bombs in Chicago and kills 100 people, do people in California lose a few day's salary, even though we are thousands of miles away?

How about this idea? If we have any day where at least 100 Americans die as a result of auto accidents, we should immediately force people to return to their homes and shut down all the roads. Those violating this order will be shot.

Of course, 40,000 people die every year as a result of auto accidents, so you could consider it as just a very long unpaid vacation where you can't go anywhere.

As I was saying to a dear friend last night...

"It's a gorgeous night, the moon is beautiful, and you're amongst friends. And where would you be without your friends?!"

I know war makes a big difference, and yet it's important to remember what hasn't changed. Some people are going to lose their friends, their family, their loved ones. Those people live disproportionately elsewhere, so maybe the real question that people over here want to know is "how will it effect us?"

I guess the answer is that it just makes it more obvious what we are doing to others in the rest of the world when we are bombing people, as opposed to invisibly starving them or denying them proper medical treatment due to sanctions. Our soldiers can get hurt now too... some of them won't be coming home to their family and friends. You might know someone who doesn't make it back, or you might know one of the grieving. This conflict is suddenly much more real now, and the emotional stakes are higher.

While that's sad, it is no more or less sad than the same thing happening elsewhere to the Iraqi people. They didn't ask for this. Even in Iraq where people have faced sanctions for a long time, they are still a surprisingly modern country in some ways, and the idea of war seems distant and surreal, like some kind of primitive joke until it rears its ugly head.

So, yes, you will be bombarded with war, and you will probably want to back away from it. Be grateful that you aren't being bombarded by bombs instead, and start thinking of how you can make a world where the idea of going to war with (insert country here) is preposterous.

How do you make war preposterous? Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Reach out and try to understand them. It just might be that their country has a reason to hate us that is every bit as valid (or as invalid...) as our reason to hate them. Help them to communicate with other Westerners. Give an Iranian or a Syrian or a North Korean your used computer, or free web hosting, or help to teach them your language, or help them to travel or study overseas, or make them a care box, or a piece of art... offer them your hospitality, or just give them your LJ invite codes... or if you don't know where to start, try finding someone via Google or contact their embassy and ask them how you can make a friend from their country. Make the effort. Don't count on them to do it first.

Never before have we had the technology or the communications to do this so easily. Don't forget that fact. Take advantage of it. If there is a *real* dialogue going on between nations, then there is no need for war. Do what you can to build that dialog. Spend your time nurturing it the way a gardener tends to their plants. Patiently, with care and love. Good things will grow... this I am certain of.

Whatever you do to help bring about a peaceful future, don't stop. Nourish it. The battle for peace is lost this time around, but war is not over. Never before have so many people come forward to oppose war with such a unified voice, before war had even begun. One bright day, this world will change fundamentally, and war will be a distant horror. Most people will not notice it when it happens, but we should all live for that day. We should all try to live that day today, and tomorrow, and everyday for the rest of our lives.

...and in the meantime, it's a gorgeous night, the moon is beautiful, and you're amongst friends. And where would you be without your friends?!