Thursday, March 08, 2007

Unity--An American Paradox

Parade magazine, while not being a heavy hitter in regards to in-depth news, printed an interesting article exploring the readiness of Iraqi soldiers to defend their country. An unsettling picture of the Iraqi's military emerges in the interviews that David J. Danelo has recorded. The soldiers seem jaded, distracted and less than committed to Iraq's future.

Ryan Lenz, reporting for Associated Press, delves into the cultural divide and petty power plays between the American military and the Iraqi army. He describes a military operation starting hours later than planned simply because the Iraqi soldiers arrived late, seemingly for no important reason. More time is lost as the Iraqis bicker over who is walking into the operation and who is riding in the Humvees.

Not one soldier in either article displays any sort of dedication to protecting and bringing together their country. There seems to be no sense of urgency in the face of a military operation. Each one is portrayed as an individual with his own worries and no sense of being a part of something greater and more important.

Very discouraging.

As I poured through these separate articles from two different journalists, I slowly realized the great gulf that seems nearly impossible to bridge in Iraq. Democracy has its roots in altruistic, elemental beliefs that seem desperately lacking.

Here in the U.S., we spend so much time in ferocious battle over so many political shadings and issues. We vehemently mock, argue, ridicule and generally try to annihilate each other in a war of words and symbolic gestures. We write scathing satires. We create entire websites to enumerate the many idiocies of our opponents.

In view of all the rhetoric, I still am filled with a sense of hope for our country. Between the great divide of the left and the right, the very fabric of our society is held together by the sense of freedom and even altruism. It may seem astounding to the right to declare our country as altruistic in view of abortion, gay marriage and numerous other scandals with which our country struggles. However, beneath all of it is a sense that what we have is worth fighting for, and also, not fighting for.

We stop short of violence in this furious skirmish of ideas. We bottle up our temper tantrums for the day and go to work, raise our families, see each other in the grocery store and say "Hi." We are unwilling to spill blood over our divergent views. It's not worth it.

Yet, when we sense that an essential element of human life and justice is crying out for notice, our people have shed their blood in gallons, vats, and oceans of red. We fought for our nation's freedom during the Revolution and the War of 1812. We lost 600,000 souls for the revocation of slavery. We flung our men to the ends of the earth to bring the Holocaust to its end. In unknown numbers, countless people poured out their lives and souls to win civil rights for all. We know when it's time to cross that line in the sand, even when the risk is great and the cost is high. We know when it's worth it to fight with all we have. That will never change.

As I read through these articles, all I could think of was the lack of solidarity of the Iraqi people, as a whole. They fight for all the wrong things because they have the wrong goals.

The United States was founded on Christian principles. These principles are ingrained within our society, even for those who make no claim to faith. The value of the individual, an inalienable right endowed by our Creator, the ability to move on when the battle is over-forsaking revenge, and the priority of peace over conflict; these core beliefs are present in almost any stripe of American. We bicker over the terms and how it all plays out, but when the chips are down, we stand together.

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