I have about three potential blog entries already written in my head, but I've decided to first write the most salient one.
Yesterday, driving along Highway 6, a train passed me. This is pretty common as I see plenty of trains, but the cargo of this train was unique, and like nothing I'd never seen outside of movies. This train was carrying at least 40 military tanks, all desert tan.
Two weeks ago, I saw a dead man on the highway. It was late at night, and several police cars had a lane blocked off. As I approached, I noticed the wrecked cars, the ambulance, the police officers, and then there he was, contorted face down on the pavement. There were people nearby, but no one giving him medical attention, no one hauling him away on a stretcher, no officers collecting evidence, no white sheet covering him, no white chalk outline, he just lay there as car after car passed. I still don't know what happened. Was he thrown from his vehicle? Was he trying to cross the street, and hit by a car at 70 mph? This is the first time I've told anyone what I saw. I don't know that I've ever seen a dead person that wasn't in a coffin, hair and makeup nicely fixed. I'm not even positive he was dead, but why else was he face down in such an awkward position, with no one helping him?
And then there were those tanks yesterday. 40 plus killing machines being transported across Texas, that will eventually make it over to the Middle East. I described it to my mom, and she said, "That sounds like something you'd see in WWII." And it's true, while the technology as change drastically in the past 60 years, on the outside, tanks still look relatively the same. A tank is a tank is a tank, and I felt like I was transported back to a time when reminders of war were an everyday occurrence.
I've felt so insulated from this current war. Yes, it's all over the news, stories, sounds, images, reports, controversies, but it still seems to far removed from my present life. I've had ROTC and Corps friends talk about it, but that's all in the future, none of them have been sent to Iraq yet. I've only known dads of friends who have been sent to Iraq, and while it's affected them, and they've told me about it, it's not my dad, or brother, or cousin, or uncle, or friend.
But this past week I've found myself more interested in the War in Iraq, listening to new reports, reading up on its origins, reading about controversies, reading about horrible, terrible, horrific things that have happened. We all heard and saw the pictures from the Abu Ghraib prison tortures, and just googling the name to check the spelling brought up horrifying images. And what about the US soldiers who raped an Iraqi girl, and murdered her and her entire family? These might be isolated incidents of a deranged and depraved few, and I don't consider them to be representative of our soldiers. But what about the high rate of sexual assaults and sexual harassment against women in our military? I truly respect our soldiers, their families, and their sacrifice. But no amount of email forwards of US soldiers hugging Iraqi children will make me believe that war does not bring out the worst in people. I know that it sometimes brings out the best in people, and purple heart medals and heroic stories are testimony to this, but I believe that many soldiers from Iraq are making a tremendous sacrifice and returning home worse from their experiences, as many sustain traumatic brain injuries and suffer from PTSD.
Am I anti-war? I hate that label, because in our society, to label someone as anti-war also means that they're radically liberal or unpatriotic, but these words are just misguided attacks. I love my country, and I hate war. War is ugly and a result of the fall and the presence of sin in the world, and as Christians, we probably should be against war. I believe that wars are sometimes necessary and there is such a thing as a just war, but I believe that this current war against Iraq was unnecessary. I know that at the time, just about everyone in Washington, reds and blues alike, believed this war to be necessary, but they were making judgments off of false information. Now that we know more of the truth, we're so far into this war, that we can't just pull out, we have to stay and attempt to stabilize the country. I hope that good will come of this, for Iraq and the United States.
I want our nation to make wise decisions about war. I want us to stand up against injustice, with the help our international community, and use our military power for good. I doubt that the Republican party can adequately do that, and I'm not sure that the Democratic party can do it either. I really can't put my full hope in political leaders and policies, but I do put my hope in the belief that one day Christ will return, he will judge the nations, and we will beat our swords (or machine guns, or tanks) into plowshares and need weapons no longer.
Until that day, tanks will roll across the plains, reminding us of our fallen state.