Before I say anything else, please allow me to say that, “I too am sick of politics.” It is that disgust, turn away from the awful scene, “don't look at the blood,” type of revulsion that motivated me to become active in the peace movement in early 2003. I knew if I didn't act to try to stop the invasion of Iraq I would regret it with every fiber of my body down the line. I tried. I tried my damnedest. We didn't stop the war. I still get that nauseated feeling when particularly hateful or misinformed or malicious information is spread by the same forces that worked for the Iraq War/
Ten years later my great nephew is on his way to Afghanistan to fight in the longest war this nation has ever fought. Our resources were pulled from Afghanistan to fight in Iraq to help out the oil lobby with which Dick Cheney had secret meetings and help out the contracting service, Haliburton, which he helped run before his Vice Presidency. It isn't right. That war, Afghanistan, was sabotaged by redirecting resources to Iraq in order to make U.S. based corporations and families obscene amounts of money, while the American people amassed a huge amount of debt to pay for the second, unjustified war.
Now my family, two generations younger than me, is headed, at this moment, to fight a war that should have, and could have, ended within a couple years of its start, definitely by 2005, had we not squandered our most precious resources, the lives of our military, and the future well-being of our children and grandchildren,by unnecessarily sending them into harms way and wasting our economic surplus and financing the wars we waged through debt accumulation.
But I have always been more aware of political everything than most people. It is just how I am. In 6th or 7th grade I could never understand why other kids wouldn't go for the extra credit points they got when we could clip and bring in newspaper articles from home about the country or geographic area on which our lessons focused. I could find dozens of articles somehow related to our every subject, and I didn't even need the extra credit. But to do the clipping activity, you had to have 1) access to newspapers, and 2) enough where with all to scan the international and political sections of the newspaper. Without intending to do so, I learned tons about international affairs, economics, and politics. I just wanted the points. I wanted to win. Win what? I'm not sure, the points, the respect of the teacher, getting the most points in the class, or maybe a little bit of “all of the above.”
Earlier this year I wrote a bit about the partisan nature of news in the U.S. and I scanned an image of personal memorabilia from second grade for the featured image for the article. It proves that I have been a political nerd since early, early, early in life. What was it? This:
The capstone event that insured my life as a political being, not necessarily a partisan being, actually happened a few years later, but I was still in primary school. My brother enlisted in the Marines and went to Vietnam. His draft number was low, meaning he would be drafted, without a doubt. He entered the Marines in 1967. We were farmers, poor farmers. He wasn't great student so college was out, and we didn't have any friends in high places to pull strings at the draft board. That was my first acquaintance with an early version of the poverty draft.
Roger, my brother, who was 9 years old when I was born, was the youngest of my four brothers. He was injured in the Battle of Hue in which he caught a bullet in the left leg, and then injured, once again, a few months later in the Battle of Khe Sahn, on his birthday, August 4th, 1968. he caught an explosive round under his flack jacket that ripped through his core, lower back to gut, as he lifted an injured buddy into a Medical Evacuation Helicopter. Soldiers in those days never survived such injuries, but somehow, probably because he was, essentially, injured inside a Medivac Chopper they were able to keep him alive and got him to a field hospital where he was patched up enough for immediate travel to Japan were he had several surgeries before he was shipped to Great Lakes Naval Base for further recovery.
When I was a Junior in High School I wrote a short vignette about napalm, firestorms, and a young boy in Vietnam who realized he was about to die. This story just flowed from my fingers, the first time I'd ever had that experience as a writer. That little bit of writing got me recognized as a potential writer and journalist, and that got me into college. Life moves in mysterious ways.
So, I guess all of this background is to say that I come by my views, political and otherwise, honestly. I opted to become an anthropologist rather than a journalist, but in many ways the training was similar. Gathering information, interviewing, analysis, and reporting are key methodologies within both disciplines. I rarely see anything that moves me to act, but when I do act, it is because my heart and brain are on the same page and that means that I have evaluated something morally and factually. It doesn't mean I am right, but it means that I believe I am doing the right thing.
There is a part of me, a selfish part, that thinks that people should be like me — but most people are not information junkies like me. Most people have such a selfish, ego-centric part of themselves, that thinks that other people should be a lot like they are. I've learned that we all tend to act from what we believe is right. That is why we need to be kind and attempt to understand where others are coming from. But that said, misinformation can be very harmful. I will explore more about the distaste many Americans currently are feeling about politics.