Tuesday, October 14, 2008

on the road with the enemy

giddy as a hipster who just discovered the next big thing in music, i called up all my friends and enemies to spread the news.

two photojournalists spoke sunday at the university of washington about their experiences on the road with the iraqi resistance.

they showed us photographs of weeping mothers, dead children and men with guns. we saw anti-american slogans juxtaposed with the most inspiring optimism. iraq is in shambles but there is something happening there. there is a spirit that the mainstream media often overlooks.

i always knew there was more to the story than meets-the-eye but i am the type of person who needs someone to spell it out for him in big bold refrigerator magnets.

outside the auditorium lecture hall was a long table offering additional perspective. various political leftists gave away pamphlets like advertisements for their own version of the truth. they have reviewed the facts and they are ready to tell us what they mean.

i was looking for a book or something i could buy and take away from the lecture. a quiet young man with buzz short hair and a rusty beard aproached me and asked me questions regarding my awareness. i don't remember what he asked me because he wasn't offering me anything i was looking for.

then he dug his hooks in. he was a veteran, like myself. he served for a short period of time in the military but decided it wasn't for him. we had something in common.

he joined to be a cook. then they wanted him to learn to shoot a 50 cal. he didn't want anything to do with that, he said. those guns are designed to pop people like water baloons.

a fat woman congradulated him. she admired him and he enjoyed her admiration.

i had no sympathy for the man. i probably would have said something but i was quite dissapointed by my failure to find what i wanted. also, his story was boring.

i had too much empathy for his situation. i joined the navy as a journalist but i never really found my place. i was moved around a lot and i never really felt like anybody wanted me around. my girlfriend's mom didn't want to see me around, either.

when i got to feeling down and sorry for my situation people would remind me that i joined the military. you're in the navy, now! what did you expect?

there is part of me that could relate to him. this is a very complicated part. i'm not so ashamed of that part but it certainly is not a source of pride.

i took my seat in the auditorium between my ex-girlfriend and an older gentleman who i did not know. i told them about the people outside.

if i was talking to that man right now, i would tell him that his sudden flash of nobility was bullshit.

everybody in the military is in the business of killing people. it does not matter if you shoot the gun or not. if you clean the gun, if you feed the man who cleans the gun, if you photograph that man receiving an award for all the other men he's killed, it does not matter. you are a wheel or a cog in a machine and you volunteered yourself to do it.

when you join the military, you condone the war. there is no weasiling out of it. you may have joined for college money. maybe some judge cut you a deal to keep you out of jail. nobody joins the millitary because they love the idea of war. they've been bought and sold on some abstract idea. like family heritage.

the older man next to me was with a group called veterans for peace. he went to high schools to talk to kids about not joining the military, that there are other options. often, these options are not as attractive. certainly, there are few people out there who will try to market them to you. except this old man, sitting next to me.

this is the media landscape. there is a lot of noise out there and you have to get wise to sort through it all.

there are significant evens happening out there and these events are like bright lights that attract moths. each individual media outlet is drawn to these significant points of interist and they each bring their own agenda.

their photographers provided the singlemost significant perspective that i have yet to witness. there agenda is simple. look at what i have seen, they told us. and think about it. how does the world mannage to, time and time again, push people into these circumstances?

i encourage everybody to visit the website. look at the pictures. pass them on.

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