“War has become ordinary. It’s part of our daily lives,” said Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) during a March 18 interview on Democracy Now about why he’d changed his vote in favor of the health care reform bill that President Obama signed into law today.
For most of the interview, Congressman Kucinich and Ralph Nadar discussed the shortcomings of this bill and the need to continue pushing for a public option. But their hour-long discussion did touch upon the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Kucinich’s stark comment, “war has become ordinary,” gave voice to one of my deep fears.
I don’t like to think about it. The pain, violence and destruction on such a massive scale terrifies me. And I don’t mean just in a war zone. It is part of our daily lives. We are surrounded by violence, from games and entertainment to actual predators with weapons.
A scene from The Hurt Locker has been haunting me. It’s the scene when a middle-aged Iraqi man is begging for the U.S. Army’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal squad to remove a timed bomb bolted around his torso with only a few minutes remaining before detonation.
On some level, I feel as if we’re like that poor man. Humanity is locked on this planet with a ticking time bomb. In a sense, we’re hostages to the threat of nuclear annihilation and ecocide. On a macro scale, we’re in a global “hurt locker.”
On March 20, the seventh anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, an estimated crowd of 10,000 marched through Washington DC to call for a stop to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ralph Nadar, Cindy Sheehan and former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark were among the speakers at the rally. Eight protesters were arrested, including Sheehan.
According to an AP article that ran in the Washington Post, attendance was not high at this one or at the other marches and rallies around the country. One marcher in DC was quoted as saying, “It’s sad that a lot of people did not come out for this protest,” said Kathy Hoang, of Manchester, Conn. “People are getting used to the war, and don’t bother even to think about it anymore.”
War has become ordinary. Most of the media doesn’t bother to cover the protest rallies either.
Perhaps I’m among those who are avoiding dealing with the reality of these wars. I could have gone to the march. I was actually in DC a few blocks away from the White House. The weather was beautiful. I could have walked over to Lafayette Park in five minutes. But I didn’t go.
It would be easy to blame the soup I’d eaten the previous day for preventing me from going to the rally, but I had already decided not to go before my stomach started cramping. Instead of food, it was a case of mind-heart poisoning from daily doses of ordinary war.
I’m grateful for the thousands who did turn out for the marches and who keep making noisy public appeals for peace. I’ve marched for peace before, and I will likely march again because, sadly, protesting war has become part of our daily lives.