October 31, 2006

ELEPHANT

I started this blog as a way to talk about poltics and issues without having to talk to anyone from my Real Life. At that time in my life, I didn't have any friends who think like I do, and I wanted somewhere to vent. Because I would never dream of venting this stuff in public.

So today when I read The Elephant in the Room, I could completely relate.

Judith says that it's usually Democrats who shun Republican friendships, but I have found myself as the shunner before. I have a few friends with whom I can have rational and polite discussions about the war or politics, but I have more than enough experience with those people who Make Pronouncements:

Another thing [Democrats] do which Kornblat doesn't give an example of, but which we all have experienced: They always start political conversations. None of us do. We have learned that no one wants to argue issues on their merits, that the room gets very quiet and unfriendly, that people start screaming at you, or rant the most loopy beliefs and conspiracy theories. We just assume that is not a topic anyone can treat in a dispassionate manner.

But they always provoke political conversations. Well, not conversations, which would be enjoyable and enlightening. They make pronouncements. And look around the room to see if anyone not only doesn't agree, but doesn't agree enthusiastically. As a friend deep in the closet in the theater world put it, you can't just sit quietly and wait for the topic to change. No, you are suspect if you do not vocally endorse the official opinion of the group. You thought you were in a project meeting or a coffee klatch or a dinner party, and all of a sudden it has turned into the Communist Youth League Self-Criticism Session.

There are only so many times I can stomach pronouncements like "Whew, won't it be better when Kerry is president?" or "So can you believe this crap that Bush is pulling?" And it's not easy to be friends with someone who walks into work, slams a copy of Fahrenheit 911 on my desk and says, "You need to watch this so maybe you'll think twice about voting for Bush." And so I end up distancing myself from those people. It's fine to have a friend who's a Democrat, but it's a drag to have a friend who says you're no better than Mohammad Atta. Or a friend who can't even muster up any sympathy that your husband is at war because "well, you started it." Or someone who says your friend with the gaping hole in his torso from an RPG is has been brainwashed into fighting for lies. I don't have much use for people like that in my life.

What's funny is that now the scales have tipped in my life. I don't blog massive rants like I did three years ago because I have more people in my Real Life to talk to about this stuff. And this weekend was unlike anything I've ever experienced: being with a group of people who are even bigger rightwing nutjobs than I am! I spent most of the weekend with my jaw on the floor, and I came home squealing to my husband about all the stuff people had said. It was fun, it was fun to not have to tiptoe around to avoid offending someone. And the lone Democrat in the room got some gentle ribbing and jokes tossed his way, but we all got along marvelously. Common ground and all.

So I can't say I've never shunned, but I certainly am capable of being friends with Democrats. No seriously, I am. I just prefer people who join me in a pretend throw up when I say the name Christiane Amanpour.

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October 30, 2006

BLESSED

The SpouseBUZZ conference was a success this weekend. I got to meet my fellow bloggers and we had a great connect with the wives at Fort Hood. If you're interested in our discussion, I liveblogged the panels here and here. But one of the most touching things of the weekend happened when I left Texas.

I sat down on my flight home next to a man on a cell phone, whom I initially assumed would be a quiet businessman. But when he hung up, he asked me what I was doing in Texas. And there's this feeling you get in the two seconds after you mention that you're a part of the military, a hold-your-breath feeling where you wait for the person's reaction. It was going to be a long flight, and I didn't want to deal with anything unpleasant. But this situation couldn't have been better.

I was sitting next to George Pearsons, the pastor at Eagle Mountain International Church. He was extremely interested in learning what military families go through. He asked me many questions about what military spouses experience and what we think about various political issues and current events. We talked nonstop for two and a half hours. He told me about a program they have at their church that supports families of military servicemembers called Troops 91, named after Psalm 91. I told him about SpouseBUZZ and encouraged him to let his parishoners know about our website if they're looking for a place to connect while their loved one is deployed.

Right before we landed, he said he wanted to do something special for my family. He gave me a donation on behalf of his church, saying that we should use this money to go to dinner or do something to cherish our precious time together. He said he wanted to give me this money "to bless my family." I couldn't believe how much money he wanted me to take! He wouldn't let me refuse, and we parted ways a little better for having met each other.

As I drove home from the airport, I thought about this money and I realized something: my family is already blessed enough. My husband said the exact same thing when I showed him the money and told him the story. So I hope Pastor Pearsons doesn't mind if I use his church's money to bless some people who probably need it more than we do.

I'm going to donate this money from Eagle Mountain International Church to two organizations that have a connection to SpouseBUZZ. I'll send half to Sew Much Comfort, an organization that makes adaptive clothing for wounded troops. And I'll send the other half to Project Valour-IT, an organization that provides voice-activated laptops to troops whose wounds prevent them from communicating via computer with their loved ones.

Pastor Pearsons blessed me with his money, but what he really blessed me with was his kindness. He was a wonderful listener, a concerned American, and a man who is genuinely interested in understanding how we spouses cope with life in the military. I was blessed to have been in Seat 19E yesterday.


(This post is cross-posted at SpouseBUZZ.)

Posted by: Sarah at 09:47 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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October 23, 2006

ABOVE MY PAY GRADE

Yesterday I posted food for thought. Today I post the other side of the argument:
If we had known then...
If We Knew Then...

You wanna know what I think? I think I'm not smart enough to know.

I too thought of the idea of hindsight when I read Goldberg's article. Tactical mistakes were made during the Civil War and WWII, yet we look back on those two as wild successes. I just don't know how time will look back on Iraq. Someday when all of this is a short paragraph in a high school history textbook, what will that paragraph say?

I don't have all the answers to the War on Terror. I rely on my husband, who's been in two of the three Axis of Evil countries, to give me his informed opinion. I trust our government has far more information than I could ever have about the situation. And I go with my gut and hope that in the end my gut was right.

That doesn't mean I don't have doubts. I constantly refer to the Seven Signs of Non-Competitive States. I think that has a major bearing on whether democracy can work in the Middle East. Reading LGF does nothing to bolster my confidence. But despite my doubts, I still think that Saddam Hussein had to go.

I've just been feeling lately that I shouldn't talk above my pay grade. And isn't that mostly what blogging is? I don't have any delightful insight that you people need to read. Sure, I have an opinion on the CNN sniper video and Ted Kennedy offering to help the Soviets. But my opinion is nothing you can't read at Blackfive or Cold Fury, respectively. I think the New York Times is crap for their recent whoopsie, I think it's ridiculous to assume there's institutionalized racism at Cracker Barrel, and I think we need to have a serious investigation into Dirt-gate.

But what do I know anyway...

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October 10, 2006

ANTI-WAR

Bunker used to wake up at the crack of dawn, so he was almost always the first person to read my posts and comment on them. He was always very encouraging in my quest to grok, and I wish he were here today to help me grapple with this post.

For you see, I just finished reading Flyboys.

I agree with nearly every review I've read that Bradley was a bit clumsy in trying to make the US and Japan equals in barbarity. At least I know I'm not the only one who ruffled at the fact that the first chapter of the book lays out America's "government policy of ethnic cleansing." But in his attempt to be fair and balanced with the war in the Pacific, Bradley did manage to do one thing: make me feel utterly and completely anti-war.

I cried myself to sleep every night I was reading this book. Bradley managed to bring the horrors of war to life in a way I've never quite experienced. Maybe it was the cannibalism that put me over the top. Maybe it was Jimmy Dye's white scarf. Maybe it was the fact that I personally think we're currently fighting an enemy that's more ruthless than the Japanese. But something in this book hit me in the gut, and I can't stop thinking about it.

My husband warned me about writing a post wherein I call myself anti-war. But I said that, if a blog named Trying to Grok isn't a place where I can be honest about my thoughts, then what's the point of writing on it? And so I confess that I see myself as anti-war. Except that anti-war doesn't really mean what the plain-faced words would seem.

I don't mean anti-war in the Sheryl Crow's Sequined T-Shirt way that most people mean when they call themselves anti-war. Most of those people actually mean anti-Bush. And I certainly haven't lost all my brain cells and begun to think that there actually ever could be a world without war either. I know there's no such thing as NO WAR, regardless of how many bumper stickers are printed.

But when you read about POWs having their heads chopped off and then being eaten by the enemy, when you read about the napalm that fell on Tokyo, when you read about the absolutely ghastly things that went on in the Pacific, you all of a sudden can grok a sentence you've heard over and over but never really gave much thought.

War is hell.

Posted by: Sarah at 07:56 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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October 01, 2006

QUESTION

Go read this post by Hud, because I have a question about it...

If the global warming crowd is denounced as anti-capitalists who want to retard American hegemony, and the non-global warming crowd is denounced as selfish jerks who are ruining the planet, and any and all research being done is funded by someone who has an agenda either way, how on earth can we actually figure out what's going on? How can science be divorced from agenda? Isn't that the whole point of science in the first place? If both sides of the debate are accusing the other of being biased and bought, how can we ever know the truth?

Or can we ever know the truth about what the earth will be like centuries from now?

Posted by: Sarah at 03:24 AM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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