War has become ordinary

by N. Logsdon Mandelkorn

“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.

6 responses to “War has become ordinary

  1. Nancy,
    Frankly, I am in ‘lockstep’ with you.

    What, a retired military officer just as concerned as any thinking human being about
    our continued ‘numbing’ to violence via “ordinary” war, video games, media, music,
    movies, and mindset.

    Are we at the mercy of those powers that promote and pimp this stuff to us? Or,
    are we as a people just too powerless to realize our power and stop it?


  2. Good Work Nancy

    Thanks for the distillation. The survival dance keeps me too distracted to keep up with all the details…..

    an-eye-for-an-eye makes the whole world blind
    be the change you want to see in the world
    Mahatma Gandhi

  3. Thank you for alerting me to our complacency regarding “war is ordinary.” I am in complete agreement. I also found interesting the archival logs…..In particular one referring to a WPost article describing Army video games targeting very young teenagers. What a revelation……your article and others’ comments.

  4. I was able to read them and was very impressed. The idea that war has become ordinary is so very scary, but unfortunately true. All the articles really made me stop and think. Thank you Nancy, they were great.

  5. Excellent Article!

    Recently I heard a news story about the video game, America’s Army, — the Army’s best recruitment tool. Here’s a link to a WP article:

    A Wikipedia article about America’s Army states that due to the popularity of the game, the Army teamed with Ubisoft to target a younger audience with their marketing.

    What do you expect from a country that markets war to 13 year olds?

    There was another country that did this…in Europe, Germany comes to mind.

    • Denise,
      Thanks for your feedback and the link. The militaristic memes are embedded everywhere! The Hurt Locker does a great job of portraying what exposure to high levels of violence can do to the human psyche. It’s tough to watch, but it’s an important film.

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