Saturday, October 22, 2005
Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right
One of the things I do after one of my trips is review my photographs, sketches and my journal. There's a certain alchemy to what I do as a combat artist. A couple years back a gentleman named Thomas Moore penned a series of books on "soulfulness", in particular Soulmates and Care of the Soul. He speaks in his writings eloquently about the work of the soul. He reflects on the the word "rumination", which has its origin in the Latin word for a cow chewing its cud. There is a great soulfulness to war and I try to expose myself to as much of it as possible. Then the chewing of the cud begins, reflecting on photos and sketches, journaled memories. Even the dull promptings of minor physical pain, such as a banged shin or a sore shoulder blade, play their part. Today I find myself drawn to the photos I took of Iraqis in the streets and back alleys of Haditha. Such good warm hearted people! They always return your "salaam" with their own dignified "salaam" and the right hand over the heart gesture. The children are ever present begging to be photographed, asking over and over "mistah, mistah, what is your name?" in schoolhouse English, and waving as if waving were a national pastime. I'm going to include pictures of these people in this commentary so you can see what I mean.
I consider myself a liberal. A liberal in the sense of this word meaning "generous". Up until recently I was very active in a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, sometimes referred to as the far left of American religion. Many of my liberal friends are very active in protesting this war, in wanting the troops out now. Whether the original premise for this conflict was right or wrong will, in my opinion, be determined by history long after we're gone. But let's say it is as the left insists, a morally wrong intervention. For someone like myself, who has been here multiple times and has experienced the Iraqis firsthand, the thought abandoning them to what would surely be chaos is equally wrong. These two wrongs simply don't make a right. Bush and his administration will stand before the judgment of history. Those of us who stand the ground over here now, know the critical nature of our mission, and we see it everyday in the faces of the Iraqis themselves. Faces that never make it to the American press, yet are indelibly pressed into the memories of the GIs serving them.