Sometimes the simplest things can teach us the biggest lessons.
I had an extremely informative IM chat with an old friend this evening. She and I had never talked politics, but the phrase "I like Kerry" came up, so I decided to gently explore. What I found out was remarkable in its simplicity.
I'm surrounded by the military community, a segment of the population that intimately feels the burden of the war on terror. I spend all my free time reading blogs about terrorism, Iraq, or US foreign policy. I completely take it for granted that these are pressing issues that deserve immediate attention and steadfast determination.
When you're a regular 26 year old, working a good job in the Midwest, terrorism couldn't be further from your mind. The things that matter to you are often the more domestic social issues. Not the socialist junk like health care -- you've got good benefits -- but the role of a conservative government with respect to 21st century social issues.
I agree with my friend that I am concerned about the marriage amendment. I agree that I prefer less government control on issues like abortion. I agree that stem cell research is high on my list of beef with Republicans. As I listened to her reasons why she currently intends to vote Kerry over Bush, I could relate.
Except there's a war on.
I explained my view to her that, although the war affects me personally as a military wife, it also affects all of us as Americans. When there are radical Muslims out there who have sworn to kill Americans by any means necessary, all else must come secondary, in my opinion. "Stem cells and abortions won't matter when we're all anthraxed," I said. And she thoughtfully listened to me and said that I had given her important things to digest.
I hope we both learned a little from our exchange tonight; I certainly did. I realized that there are voters out there who don't see the war on terror as the pivotal issue; there are some people who don't care one way or the other whether the UN is with us in Iraq, because Iraq is not their top priority. She doesn't prefer Kerry because he's multilateral; she prefers him because his party represents certain social issues that she thinks are important. I can respect that. I don't even know how to counter it, because I agree with all of the things she said.
But I'd still like her to entertain the idea that terrorism, if left unchecked, could someday become a pressing issue in her own life in the Midwest.
Posted by: Sarah at
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Just wanted to respond to this thread. You make a great point, we're at war.
But for you, waiting for someone close to you to come home from Iraq, surrounded by others who are in the same boat, I can imagine that the "War on Terror" is close to home, near and dear to your heart.
Understand that the military represents such a small fraction of the country now (as opposed to WWII when we had 20 million men under arms) these issues are of course HUGE to you and military families.
Forgive the other millions of Americans who don't have kin in the fight who think there are other things to consider on election day.
Posted by: Erik at April 16, 2004 12:22 AM (Js59X)
One could argue, as I do here
that the current US administration has, through delaying stem cell medicine, become the cause of tens of millions of deaths in years to come - people in the yearly toll of 55 million deaths worldwide for whom medical advances came too late.
Even today, 2000 lives a day - a day! - are lost in the US alone to heart disease, a condition that human trials have shown to be cured using stem cell therapies with 80% effectiveness.
Terrorism is small potatoes compared to medical issues.
Posted by: Reason at April 16, 2004 12:25 AM (9UIZO)
Small potatoes? SMALL POTATOES!?! Terrorism is the greatest challenge facing us today. We have the opportunity to stop the worst of it while it's still a manageable size - just.
As to 50 million deaths worldwide that could be prevented being more important, maybe we should factor in the living as well. For instance, I would rather live until I'm 55 in the U.S. surrounded by choices and advantages than live in Iraq or Syria until I'm 95 amidst the oppression, fear and total loss of freedom.
It's not small potatoes - more like comparing apples to oranges. ALL life is important - victims of terrorism and victims of heart disease. But victims of heart disease often bring on much of their illness through lifestyle choices. Victims of terror have no choice - someone else does. First things first. I agree wholeheartedly with you, Sarah, except I would probably have disagreed with your friend on several Democratic hard core issues.
We'll discuss tonight, have a great day!
Posted by: Oda Mae at April 16, 2004 02:00 AM (IgwHZ)
well, being in a non-military family, I think about our military all the time. They are doing the work of us all. There is no issue that suprceeds the war. Laziness, self-centerednees and narrow vision may lead one to think the major issue of the day is the unemployement rate or parking availability.
Posted by: Jane at April 16, 2004 08:59 AM (rZmE1)
My father died of Parkinson's; it is not a pretty picture. It is a good mind trapped in a body that stops working, it is gross. But in his opinion, and he did state it, it was not worth his life to sacrifice an innocent life. He was the father of 7 children, abortion was not an option. The really sad thing is that adult stem cell research is going to be much more beneficial to cure Parkinson's or anything else, than that harvested from embryonic cells. So far there has been a rather high incidence of cancer caused with the embryonic in some research. Sorry, my mind does not have the details on that, but what I have read is research on replacing cells in curing diabetes.
Posted by: Ruth H at April 16, 2004 04:06 PM (yZgeX)
Yes, small potatoes. Far and away the greatest threats to our lives are posed by disease and aging, not violence. The numbers speak for themselves in that respect.
Posted by: Reason at April 16, 2004 10:22 PM (9UIZO)
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