April 26, 2004

SUFFER

I started to formulate a post while talking to Tim over the weekend, and it just came together on the exercise bike. I've managed to nail down more firmly why I feel I have a hard time fitting in, why I relate so well with my students but not as well with other wives.

Soldiers signed up for this; wives didn't.

I realize this will take some generalizing here, but bear with me. Soldiers know what they're getting into when they raise their right hand. They know the risks and agree to take them. Wives, on the other hand, seem to have a sense of "why me" when they fall in love with someone who has chosen to take that oath. There's some crossover of categories -- conscientious objectors, anyone? -- but for the most part, soldiers are willing participants in the war on terror and wives are dragged along kicking and screaming.

The majority of wives I know either suffer in silence or express their bitterness at any appropriate moment. None are hooah the way I am. They look forward to the day their husbands leave this mess behind and get a regular job, and though they feel a vague sense of pride that their husbands are doing a noble job, they would welcome him home in a heartbeat and flip the Middle East the finger if they could. They seem to think that since they never took an oath, they are exempt from any obligations to portray Army Values and to selflessly support the mission.

I don't think I've met anyone yet who feels the way I do (except for Tim, but he raised his right hand a while back.)

I don't suffer. Sure, I miss planting kisses in my husband's dimples, but I don't feel the bitterness many wives feel over the separation. I don't feel angry at the President for forcing us to go through this, nor do I feel like I've been cheated out of 14 months of my life. I don't have any illusions that his return next April will signify the end of our family's involvement with all things Muslim, nor do I plan to inform him that I have personally decided he's leaving the Army when he gets back, as some wives will.

My husband is contributing something to this world in a way that many wives just don't seem to grok. I think that's why I feel more comfortable with soldiers than wives, because there's common ground in the idea that soldiers are supposed to soldier. I'm having a hard time seeing that understanding in the wives I know.

On Saturday, Tim asked me how I cope with the deployment. To be honest, I do most of it alone. But when I need empathy in a rough patch, I turn to Tim or Mike or Carla. When I need someone to be sympathetic and get my mind off of it, I turn to Marc. When I'm down, I turn to the blogosphere for support.

I turn to you guys to help me cope. Thank you.

MORE TO GROK:

Amritas adds some insight.

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MOSQUE

I finished reading Bernard Lewis' What Went Wrong? on the train, and one thing really caught my attention. I'm no expert on the history or nuances of Islam, but Lewis is, and I trust his analysis when he says

Christians sometimes speak of "The Synagogue" and "The Mosque" to denote the religious institutions of the Jewish and Muslim faiths. But these are inappropriate terms, the projection of Christian notions onto non-Christian religions. For the Jew or the Muslim, the synagogue or the mosque is a building, a place of worship and study, no more. Until modern times and the spread of Christian norms and influence, neither ever had, for its own worshippers, the institutional sense of the Christian term.

When the Marines bombed the mosque in Fallujah, Charles Johnson said

The wire services are already reporting that 40 “worshippers” were killed at one mosque in Fallujah. But the simple fact, borne out by hundreds of posts here at LGF, is that mosques in places like Fallujah are not simply “places of worship;” they are centers of incitement, and hiding places/staging areas for murderers.

Before reading Lewis' book, I thought Muslims were disgusting, hiding their weapons in places of worship. I figured they knew their religion was so intricately tied to jihad that it didn't really matter if they defiled their mosques. Now I wonder if maybe it's just our Christian upbringing that makes us unable to grok how a place of worship could be full of RPGs. If to Muslims a mosque is simply a building, then it's no wonder we see photos like these:

gaza-mosque-bullets.jpg

iraqi-mosque-worshippers.jpg

And now I feel even less sorrow at bombing that Fallujah mosque.

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April 20, 2004

GROK

Sam is dealing with a troll, and he had some very insightful remarks:

Not to forget; that no single Iraqi accept and like to see the occupation of his country by a foreign troops. We all would like to see an end to the occupation but not by the way of chaos, looting, robbery, blood shed, abduction, killing innocent people, terrorist attacks, destruction of power stations and of oil and water pipes, dirty power seeking militias, force using to impose their own way of life on women and men, assassinations of university professors and doctors and intellectuals, and so on and so forth. A scale is of a complete havoc and destruction. This is not resistance at all. What happened in Falluja and by Sadr are part of what I listed above. Thugs are seeking power or money or pushed by terrorist of Wahabi origin to commit their crimes.

Those who clap and shout slogans to Sadr on last Friday are the same people who did the same and more slogans for Saddam! Those who kill in Falluja are the same people who did the crimes of mass graves and tortures and Halbja chemical attacks by Saddam. Those who negotiate for them the Sunni Group and mediate for the release of hostages are the one who cried and regret the fall of the most tyrant regime on earth.

Yes we have been liberated from that regime with the help of the coalition troops and the USA admitted that it is an occupying force. GWB and his aides and Ministers etc, always said that they like to help to build a free, democratic Iraq with open and strong economy. This sound very good for us and we would like to see it started as soon as possible. We know that it is delayed for a little while but the reasons are very well know? It is the others who do not like to see it started and we are always said that it should start sooner rather than latter. See who kidnap and kills the contractors and bomb the oil pipes and the water pipes? It is the above groups who do not like to see security and reconstruction as well as the regional countries.


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April 16, 2004

STUDENTS

Can I just say again how much I love my students? Yesterday I got accused of not being pro-American enough in class. Me. Not pro-American enough. Hysterical. I spoke somewhat cynically about how our justice system doesn't always work as well in practice as it should in theory, and one of my students jumped on me for being too critical. As he and I "argued" back and forth, I realized we were basically saying the same thing, and when he concluded with "Well, I don't care because the United States is still the best country ever", I had to smile and realize that he was simply hurt that I had spoken ill of something he values so much. And believe me, I know how that feels.

It's just so nice to stand in front of a class that groks the same things I do. When I say the word media, I hear boos in the back row. When I said that images of 9/11 cause a strong reaction in many Americans, one soldier (an immigrant American) mumbled, "Yeah, they make us want to get the mo@#&%kers." When I ask them to write about an incident in their life that makes them who they are today, the majority of them wrote about joining the Army and how it changed their life; they had been drug dealers, gangsters, and battered wives who have found personal strength and meaning in military values. They're my students and I adore all of them.

If I could teach writing classes for soldiers forever, I would.

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April 15, 2004

TOUCHING

I hadn't checked my email account in a few days, and what I found brought tears to my eyes. Some Milblogs contributors are fighting to see who can donate the most to Spirit of America. Then Greyhawk jumped in and promised part of his tax refund, and also pointed out that our wounded servicemembers in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center here in Germany are in desperate need of toiletries and essentials since they've been medevac-ed. Soldiers' Angels fired back a response:

We have sent 100 backpacks to Landstuhl filled with needed items ie socks, clothing, cd players, hygeine items att phone card
we have also sent over 100 boxes of needed items. We also are sending the backpacks to the combat hospitals in Mosul and Tikrit and EVEYONE has been used.
West Point class of 55 is donating we are trying to send more and they need it. A big call for slippers and tennis shoes, our guys are mostly coming in with no boots.
The need is great there and Soldiers' Angels would be honored to work with you in providing for the wounded.

It really touches my heart to know that so many people are donating and reaching out to our servicemembers. Now I need to go earmark some of that tax-free money the husband's been making for Castle Argghhh's contest...

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April 12, 2004

GROKKER

I met an American tonight.

I saw trouble coming a mile away during my German class while we were going over discussion questions for the genitive case. Question #8 was Wer ist der populärste Politiker Ihres Landes? (Who is your country's most popular politician?) Of course the Conflicted Reservist was first to insist that it is Kerry, bringing up the "fact" that Kerry is a Vietnam hero and Bush was AWOL. And then an amazing thing happened.

There's a woman in our class from Italy. I believe she's married to a soldier, so I'm sure she's legally an American, but she proved herself a grokker tonight. She put the Reservist in his place faster than I could bat an eye. She turned to him and rattled off facts about Kerry's Vietnam record -- his Purple Hearts, his relationship with Fonda, his throwing away "his" medals -- that brought a look of utter confusion to the Reservist's face. It was immediately apparent that for all his grandstanding and prattling on and on about Kerry, he actually knows nothing of Kerry's background. Another soldier listened to my classmate's rant in disbelief; "no way" was the expression used.

I learned two things from that exchange tonight: I'm not as alone as I sometimes feel, and most people don't know the first thing about current events.

And that Italian woman is now my favorite classmate. As she turned back to her German worksheets in disgust, she said, "You need to do some research before you start talking."

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April 10, 2004

CITIZENSHIP

Many times when I visit blogs, someone will say "read this" and I skip on by. If the name Mark Steyn or Victor Davis Hanson catches my eye, I'll linger, but often in my hurried mornings I'll miss out on an article because the blogger has not stressed how important it is.

I'm adding this old piece (from 2002) called The Civic Education America Needs to my crucial reading list. (I'm also printing it and sending it to the Best Friend and the Husband.) Bunker dug it up and wrote about the citizenship grades he also received in school. I struggled to find a paragraph that would characterize this important piece:

Restoring civic education—from the daily practice of its rituals to real mastery of the elements of Americanism—will not be easy, but such a shared sense of values is critical in such a vast nation that is otherwise not defined by a shared religion, common race, or dominant ethnic affiliation. After September 11, most Americans, in their slogans, flags, and posters, yearned for greater accord: “United We Stand” and “One from Many,” read some of the ad hoc banners. We are coming to realize that we cannot survive as a nation under today’s pernicious conventional wisdom of division and separatist cultural protocols—ideas based on misconceptions and outright untruths about the American past. Even the most jaded among us is beginning to sense that al-Qaida hates Asian, Hispanic, black, and white Americans alike—our women as much as, or more than, our men; Catholics, atheists, Protestants, agnostics, Jews, Buddhists, and Sikhs as infidels all. Our enemies see us as one united people even where we ourselves do not. And we are slowly re-learning the age-old lessons of war, that the spiritual is far more important than the material: that all the F-16s in the world will not guarantee us victory unless our pilots who fly them, mechanics who service them, and taxpayers who pay for them feel that they are shooting, repairing, and working for the preservation of their own common civilization that must not fall prey to barbarism.

In the America I live in, citizenship is important. Belonging to the greater whole that is the United States is important. Working together to set aside our differences and build a more perfect union is important. Being an American is important.

I'm taking a break from the computer today to go read my students' essays. Many of them wrote about what it meant to them to join the Army; that's just the pick-me-up I need today.

MORE TO GROK:

Apparently the America I live in doesn't include Hawaii, where Amritas points out the proposal to create a new ethnic-Hawaiian school district:

The curriculum portrays the United States as a colonial oppressor of the Hawaiian people, and is designed to train children to become skillful advocates for race-based political sovereignty.

God help us all.

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GROK

I don't really consider myself a cryer, but something about this week has put my emotions on edge. Last night I cried out of frustration. This morning I cry out of respect:

But asked if he ever wondered about the decisions of generals and policymakers, he said, “I support them. I’ve got faith in them. If they’re telling us we’ve got to stay here, it’s for a good reason. Good will prevail. Ma’am, if the nation needs us to stay and fight, we’ll stay and fight.”

This soldier, staying for an extra four months of duty with 1AD, groks.

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April 08, 2004

LASER BEAM

I have a nervous stomach today, but it helps me keep things in perspective and keep my laser beam focused to read warbloggers.

It helps to hear Bill Whittle say this:

Then be silent and introspective, for today our men and women are dying for the one idea worth dying for. And take from their sacrifice not defeat and sadness, but a solemn and sacred appreciation that three or four nations throughout an entire world that quivers in fear of these savages has the guts and the courage and the will to finish this job and bring freedom and security to a people that may not yet have earned it.

It helps to hear Zeyad say this:

No one knows where it is all heading. If this uprising is not crushed immediately and those militia not captured then there is no hope at all. If you even consider negotiations or appeasement, then we are all doomed.

It helps me to hear from my husband's best friend that he's jealous of those who get to take it to the enemy. His enthusiasm and confidence is catching.

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April 01, 2004

REAL

NotDeskmerc has an inspired post today about what happens to you when the war on terror touches your life. Amritas once said that blogging has made the abstract real: soldiers are now real people, like my husband or Smash or Hook. They're real people who miss their families, excitedly take photos of camels, and wear 100 extra pounds of gear in 130 degree weather. They're real.

Please take a moment to go read NotDeskmerc's post. It's the story of a real soldier.

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