Saturday, September 01, 2007

We saw No End in Sight yesterday, a powerful documentary about the mess in Iraq. The movie detailed the blunders that were made, some out of negligence, some out of arrogance, some out of corruption, laziness, greed, or ignorance, that led the military from bad idea to fiasco.

Everyone knows what a mistake Iraq was, but the film shows the many men and women of good will and intelligence, public servants, career military and civilians, American and Iraqi, who put thought, effort, and energy into trying to make something good happen there. It also shows how at every step of the way, these efforts were undermined, and disaster was deliberately courted, to the destruction of a whole people and culture.

When I see pictures of Iraqis screaming and howling over the corpses and coffin of their loved ones I see a whole culture driven mad with grief.

The destruction of museums which housed relics from 7,000 years of human history; of one of the best, most comprehensive libraries in the world...the scholars and historians who mourned those losses in the film touched my heart. And the Mexican-American soldier who said in halting English, "I need something good to happen in Iraq--to make me feel there is meaning in what I lost."

Today, C and I took a long wonderful hike in the woods and talked more about our play. We don't want it to run along partisan political lines at all, but we do want to explore this theme of service and sacrifice.

As I'm seeing it now, there are two kinds of sacrifice--that which is for the greater good, in which we relinquish selfishness in order to serve something higher, and meaningless, corrupted sacrifice, which is coerced, or extracted from people on false grounds, or which is made corrupted after the fact by the way the beneficiaries of the sacrifice abuse and mistreat it.

I believe we all long to make meaningful sacrifices in our lives, but have been conditioned to fear and mistrust sacrifice because of the many ways the gifts of artists, women, parents, humanitarians have been corrupted and co-opted in our society. The Republican party is still selling itself on the idea of sacrifice and good old-fashioned values of hard work and service, when, as the movie pointed out, none of the main architects of the Iraq fiasco had ever done military service except for Colin Powell, whose reservations about the whole escapade were disregarded.

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