Sunday, January 30, 2005

So people ask me, "why are you involved in protesting the Iraq War?" "Why do you do that?" "Medbh, just forget about it, there will always be wars." "Yes, it's terrible, but what can we do?"

I have always hated war.
I have hated war since the first time it was placed in my living room. Due to an early childhood hearing loss, I turned to written words in order to understand our world. Spoken ones just looked like mouths opening and closing, like fish mouths. So I read early. I think that not being able to hear for a few of my early years also meant that yes, other senses were more strongly developed. Perhaps my sense of sight was.

There was one sofa in our living room then, and one big tv, squared out in wood. The wood swirled all around the tv screen. Not being one of the more contentious of the nine children in my family, I rarely managed a priviledged seat on the plastic wrapped sofa. I laid on the floor instead, up close and personal with the tv.
Up close and personal, and, when still of the age that you wanted to stay in your parent's company, I would lay on the floor in the evenings after dinner, and watch the news with my Dad, a WWII vet.

I watched newscasters talk of humans being blown up. Of villages set on fire, bombed into nothingness. I watched American soldiers walk on a path in a jungle, and would later read of how they were killed, or killed others. They stepped on a mine, and blew their legs off. ...He was fresh out of high school, and a sniper's bullet pierced his abdomen... I watched as frightened people, mostly moms, grey haired grandparents, and children, children like me, ran down those same dirt paths, their belongings wrapped in kerchiefs, their mouths drawn back in a grimace of terror, or with tears streaming down their face as they turned to look back at an approaching carnage.

I watched the interviews with crippled, handsome young soldiers. I read the stories that accompanied pictures of a little girl, naked, terrified, and napalmed, as she ran down one of those same dirt paths. I read the articles in LIFE, and in every newspaper and magazine my Dad discarded on the living room floor, and I caught enough to realize that their were some in this world, powerful people, who thought that this war was ok.

Ok? OK for little girls to be burned, to run naked down dirt paths? OK? Ok to have grandmoms cry while they ran down those dirt paths, carrying bloodied grandchildren? I read that some said it was necessary. Necessary? Were these adults nuts? I did not see any blood on them. No disheveled clothes. No dirt paths. The outrage had started. I knew that my Dad did not think it was ok. He didn't even like McHale's Navy. When it would come on, his face appeared to turn down, he would repeat, "war isn't like that." We didn't watch that show. I would get up and turn on something else. He liked Gilligan's Island. MaryAnn made him smile.

I had an operation, and they fixed my ear. How, I don't know. What exactly was wrong with it, I don't know. When you are one of nine, and both of your parents work, your childhood history has a tendency to get a bit lost. No matter. The pictures from the Vietnam War did not get lost in my memory. The reasons that men in suits blahed blahed blahed to justify it didn't get lost. The banality, the evil banality, of how they spoke of war, that picture stays with me. It did not get lost.

The protestors who were shot at Kent State, that picture stays with me. I remember that one of the students was shot in the leg. A handsome, intelligent looking, young man. An ambulance came, and he told them to take a more heavily wounded person first, instead of him. They did, and then he died. I remember that still.

Maybe it is due to the overly enhanced perceptions that my childhood hearing loss gave me. But all of my life I have remembered those pictures. Those arguing for War, and those bloody, burned bodies. The crippled young soldiers. How unjust that they had to spend their life that way. How unjust that people who are just trying to live, poor people, people like me, are driven from what little bit of a home they have, due to War? How unjust that men in suits still walk, well into their advanced years, collecting retirement benefits from the companies that profited from Vietnam. How unjust that their children now benefit from the war profits.

How is it, that some people my age do not, cannot, will not remember what WAR is really about? Men in suits making a lot of money while people are butchered. Maybe they should have suffered a hearing loss way back when. It helps to develop an enhanced perception of blood.

3 Comments:

Blogger Francesca said...

Great post, Medbh.

11:41 AM  
Blogger PaxRomano said...

We grew up in the same time, Medbh (Children of the 60's and 70's -- the first real brood of multi-media babies). I recall seeing Vietnam coming into my living room in South Philly via "Uncle Walter" and trying to wrap my little pre-adolescent brain around it. It was tough, and like you, it shaped an adult passion against war.

What is it good for?

1:19 PM  
Blogger Medbh said...

thanx, Francesca, and Pax, yes, it was tough, although my immediate perception was that it was wrong. And the blahblahblah way that it was discussed on the news and in the papers, that made me want to dump my bowl of ice cream and pretzels on thier blahblahblahing heads!

8:46 PM  

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