On March 17, 2003 the news was full of reports that the United States would soon be going to war with Iraq in order to find and destroy its weapons of mass destruction. The full text of president George W. Bush’s address to the nation is here.
I had a lot of things on my work agenda for today, but after reading the news this morning none of them seemed very important. George Bush is taking us to war. It seems almost certain now.
I find myself hoping that it’ll be a terrible disaster that will convince everyone of the folly of war. And then I think, wait, do I really want thousands of Americans to die in the fighting? No, of course I don’t. So then I hope that it will go well (as “well” as a war can go) and be over quickly with a good outcome for the people of Iraq. But I immediately realize that will make we Americans even more cocky, more full of ourselves, more sure that we know what’s best for everyone else, and our leaders will start looking around for the next “bad guy” to demonize and beat up. I don’t want that, either.
At my 12-year-old son’s school, there’s talk among the middle schoolers about staging a walkout from classes when the war starts. He’s turning this over in his mind, weighing his desire to oppose the war versus the consequences of skipping classes. I feel sad that he’s growing up in a world that’s so full of violence. But then I think this is a good experience for him to be going through, and it’s right for him to be struggling with it.
So I end up confused, not knowing what to hope for. And then I remember it doesn’t make any difference what I hope for. The only thing that makes a difference is what I do. Maybe all I can do right now is hold a candle at a peace vigil. If so, that’s what I’ll do. When I get some clarity about something more I can do, I’ll do something more. And I’ll try not to be attached the outcome. I can’t control whether my actions will have the effect I would wish for. I can only control whether my actions are aligned with my beliefs.
Meanwhile, the sun is out, there are ducks on the lake again, and I’m grateful to be here.