By Kelsi Peace, Managing Editor
When images of the Vietnam War made their way into people’s homes via television, increasing outrage about the war spread. For the first time, the grisly images of war haunted the minds of Americans at home, slapping them with war’s reality instead of its romanticized heroism.
Today, similar gruesome images parade across the television, flash up on the Internet and spread themselves across newspapers and magazines.
Perhaps we should decry the media for desensitizing the nation with a bombardment of violent images, yet I think the problem is so much simpler, and so much more tragic.
In one of my political sciences classes a few weeks ago, we were discussing the war when one student raised her hand and said, “I’m really not affected by the war personally.”
She’s right. Many of us have friends or family overseas right now because of the war, which leaves some worried, others angry and still others proud.
But for most, our daily lives are not affected – yet. We haven’t seen what daily violence will do to our troops when they return to a society generally disconnected from their war-torn lives.
I watched “Across the Universe” for the third time this week and again asked myself why that college-age generation so passionately and adamantly protested the Vietnam War, while my own generation has produced little that is stirring enough to spur any revolution.
Lucy, the main character, speaks of “radicalizing” and dreams of a revolution that will end the war that has claimed her fiancé’s life and drug her beloved brother overseas via the draft.
Some would say this isn’t a Vietnam War – that the numbers are drastically different. True, About 58,000 people died in Vietnam, according to www.vietnamwar.com, while the American death toll has climbed past 3,500. However, this statistic tells only part of the truth. The whole truth demands recognition of what our surges and invasions do to those we claim to aid. With the Iraqi civilian death toll in the staggering range of about 81,000 to 89,000, according to www.iraqbodycount.org, perhaps this war is not such a far cry from Vietnam.
Granted, the numbers include deaths caused by car bombs and other terrorist activity, but much of this has been spurred by our presence. And according to the Web site, U.S. fire killed 96 in October- including 23 children. This past week, the Web site reported, 180 civilians died, 23 from U.S. fire.
I can’t put a face on each number, nor can I write the story of each life. But I can know in an abstract way that each number represents a person, a precious human life.
Many Americans tout their devotion to the value of human life. Here is the perfect chance to value the more than 80,000 lives lost in Iraq and demand an end to this violence.
Yes, some in Iraq hate Americans; some want each one of us dead. But not all – not even most. And perhaps the lives of those who hate us most are the lives which we should most value. After all, Christ tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. I don’t see much love in our air raids.
The distance between the U.S. and Iraq doesn’t mean our lives won’t be affected by this war. Eventually, the war will end and our troops will come home. And we’ll all be accountable for what our country did.