The Surreal Reality of Death. America, Iraq, Afghanistan.

© copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert


Please think twice about life as you watch the Baseball Player Talks About Deadly Atlanta Bus Crash

A large bus careening down the highway during the early morning hours was full of passengers.  Most of the occupants were young, strong, burly, men.  They had seen so little of life; their years on this Earth were few.  These solid souls were off to experience a novel adventure.  The Division III Beavers, a student baseball team attending Bluffton University, were traveling to Florida’s Gulf Coast for a season-opening double-header game.  The youthful, pious, players were excited and expectant.  They were about to experience a week in the sun.  Fellow Mennonite men, women, students, and alum would watch from near and far as these boys participated in a week of games.  Then it happened.  There was an accident.  Four fellows lost their lives when the bus toppled off a bridge.  The driver and his wife also perished.  People throughout the nation ponder; why.  Why do the young die?

There is much reflection. The media is everywhere documenting the reactions to sudden death and destruction.  American citizens,  all contemplate how fragile life can be.  Some say the incident was surreal.

News of the tragedy shocked the students on campus, many of whom were supposed to take midterms Friday before going on spring break. Jordon Bruner stood in front of the campus cafeteria, his jaw clenched tightly in an effort to not cry.

For the last two years, the senior has worked with the school’s sports department and helped update its website. He said he’d gotten to know most of the athletes at Bluffton, particularly the members of the baseball team.

“I didn’t believe it when my roommate woke me up this morning and told me we had to turn on the TV because there’d been an accident,” Bruner, 21, said. “I had just seen them get on the bus Thursday night. We waved goodbye. It wasn’t supposed to be goodbye forever.”

No, it was not supposed to be like this.  Young men and women are expected to live on forever, or at least we hope they will reach a ripe old age, perhaps marry, have children, or share their lives and wisdom in whatever way feels best to them.  We, as humans, imagine that our progeny will be the next generation.  They will have time to give and be great.  People never think the young will pass before they have had an opportunity to grow.  However, it happens.  We struggle to understand why.

“Some people have asked why God would let something like this happen,” Rodabaugh said. “How do you answer that, other than turn to your faith?”

Faith, trust, and a personal commitment to G-d can calm the soul.  If we believe there is a reason for everything, and that every event has a purpose, then perhaps we will feel peaceful.  we might seek solace in the Lord.  However, memories linger.  Reveries haunt us.

When you are among those that has their life shaken, you know . . .

“This is something that’s not going to leave the guys who were on that bus this morning,” said A.J. Ramthun, 18, a freshman second-baseman who suffered a broken collarbone, facial cuts and bruises. “This is going to be with us forever. We’ve been living together, practicing together. We’ve been a family for the past five months. Something like this morning really makes you think twice about life.”

As a nation, we are witnessing death more so than we typically do.  On March 2, 2007, many more young persons passed from this Earth.  Eight students attending Enterprise High School in Alabama took their last breath without warning.  They knew the tornado was coming; however, they did not think they would be hurt.  The adolescents could not conceive of dying.  Yet, they did, in fact pass away.

Ben Powell thought of the last time he saw Katie Strunk.

“We were sitting in history,” the 10th-grader said. “She was smiling. She always smiled.”

Ben had a crush on Katie, who was among eight students who died at their school Thursday when a tornado slammed into the main building, ripping off concrete roofs and flattening cinder-block walls.

Few contemplated injury.  When we are young, we often believe we are immortal, indestructible, and enduring.  The youth of America certainly have reason to think that no harm will come to them as they sit in their cozy homes, classrooms, cafeterias, and shopping centers.  The elders do not consider the possibility either.  Life is good in the USA.  Tragedy rarely befalls us.  Yet, currently it does.  This country is being slammed by storms.  Lives are lost.  Devastation surrounds us.  Perspectives are changing.  Perhaps, it is time.  We need to contemplate bereavement and battle.

While we are not in a war zone, we are experiencing, on a far smaller scale what families in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Israel might.  Some Americans are realizing the pain that we permit in other nations.

A student recounts . . .

“Everyone was screaming, and there was blood everywhere,” said sophomore Hailey Moore, 16, whose ribs were broken when a book hit her side. “I could feel the dirt and glass in my hair, and I just thought, ‘Oh gosh. Is this really happening? Am I going to die?’ ” . . .

“It doesn’t even look like our school,” said Karana Brown, 18. “It’s unbelievable to think we got out of that building.” . . .

“Everything feels unreal,” she said. “Everyone is in a phase where we don’t know what’s going on.”

The children in war ravaged countries know what is occurring.  It is daily and routine.  Bombs drop, people fall to their death.  Soldiers and or the people defending their land and their family’s precious lives slam bodies up against buildings.  Troops storm into homes without warning.  Bullets blaze above the heads of innocent civilians, children.  That is life; it is predictable and random.  Violence and volatility are everywhere.  A youngster might wonder, ‘When will I die?’  Could it be today or tomorrow.  Anything is possible.  Even if I survive on Friday, there is Saturday, Sunday, and then Monday, and Tuesday.  Everyday brings a new death.  A toddler in the Middle East understands, ‘I may not have a mother, a father, a sibling, or a friend on Wednesday.’  When fields are void of flowers and killing consumes the day, a child knows casualties and fatalities are a way of life.

Even combatants know not whether they will live or die; will they make it through the night.  If these young warriors do awake, will their beautiful bodies be intact.  Skin is delicate and organs so fragile.  For the teens and young adults fighting on battlefields or in regions where war is a daily reality fear is forever.  The fallen are many.  Families worry too.  Cries of ‘My baby, my brother, my sister, my friend,’ echo throughout the land.

Might we make this different.  Perchance, Americans can come to a collective consciousness.  Nature alone, particularly with the assistance of man, does enough destruction.  Let the arbitrary and intentional killings end.

References for your review . . .

  • 6 die in crash of bus carrying college team, Small Ohio town mourns four players and prays for the other passengers. By P.J. Huffstutter and Kevin Sack. Los Angeles Times. March 3, 2007
  • pdf 6 die in crash of bus carrying college team, Small Ohio town mourns four players and prays for the other passengers. By P.J. Huffstutter and Kevin Sack. Los Angeles Times. March 3, 2007
  • Alabama high school takes in tornado’s devastation Enterprise grieves for 8 students, and marvels that the midday tornado didn’t kill more.  By Jenny Jarvie.  Los Angeles Times. March 3, 2007
  • pdf Alabama high school takes in tornado’s devastation Enterprise grieves for 8 students, and marvels that the midday tornado didn’t kill more.  By Jenny Jarvie.  Los Angeles Times. March 3, 2007
  • Children die in Baghdad car bomb, BBC News. July 13, 2005
  • Military confronts growing ranks of bereaved spouses, children, By David Crary.  The Associated Press.  Houston Chronicle.  March 3, 2007
  • Political Extremism. When Will It End? ©

    Today I received an electronic communiqué that stimulated great thought.  Specifically the correspondence addresses the Holocaust.  The author asks us to remember what was, what is, and will be, as the result of political extremism. 

    Personally, I cannot forget.  I believe we are mired in government-imposed radicalism today.  Neoconservatives believe that democracy can be spread in a brutal fashion.  Dictatorial acts pass for nationalism.  Consider the Patriot Act circa 2001.

    We might look to foreign lands and question the sanity of their leaders.  President George W. Bush does.  He postulates there is an “axis of evil.”  Nations such as North Korea, Iran, and Iraq are in his sight.  I inquire; might Mister Bush look in the mirror.  Which country has the greatest arsenal? Who is prepared to use Weapons of Mass Destruction.  What nation state does colossal damage daily then terms it “collateral”?

    I sigh and state . . .
    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
    ~ George Santayana [The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905]

    May we recall what was and not engage as we have for centuries.  I ask each if us to work against all wars, to thwart any, and all exploitations.  May we strive for equity among all people, in every nation.

    When we witness wrongdoing, we must speak . . .
    “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”  . . . “…to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all…”
    ~ Elie Wiesel [Author of Nights, record of Jewish Holocaust experience]

    I offer the cartoon and accompanying text found in my electronic mail.  Perchance this sharing will have a profound effect on you or others that see it.  I can only hope that atrocities such as these will not stand in the present.  If we revisit these, it will be in reflection. 


    It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended.

    This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the six  million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900  Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and  humiliated with the German and Russian people looking the other way!

    Now, more than ever, with Iran,  among others, claiming the Holocaust to be “a myth,” it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets.

    May peace be with us all.

    War, Political Extremism Is Not An Option . . .

  • President Delivers State of the Union Address. Office of the Press Secretary. January 29, 2002
  • USA Patriot Act. American Civil Liberties Union
  • USA Patriot Act. Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America
  • Iraq, Israel, Lebanon; Trees of Life in a Wilderness of War. ©

    Our countrymen see the diseased and devastated trees and speak of the color of the leaves.  People in the United States ponder the slow death of the foliage.  They think caterpillars are the cause.  Others, here and abroad dispute this theory and say, “No, it is blight.”  A scientist enters the scene and voices his hypothesis.  His neighbor started the spread of this syndrome; yes, that man is to blame.  Had the national not introduced the dynamic of destruction, all would be well.

    Another quiet dissenter enters the fray.  She says, “This virus has existed for centuries.”  No one can change what is and has always been.  A group gathers and grows.  They all argue amongst themselves.  Finally, there is a loud explosion, or was it an implosion.  The tree and all those surrounding it are engulfed in flames.  Within minutes, there is silence.  This world exists no more.

    For well over a week now I have witnessed the whirlwind of discussions, disagreements, and dialogues pertaining to rhetoric, religion, and rage.  People are discussing the crisis in Lebanon and Israel.

    Persons pose the prospect; President Bush is responsible, culpable, and guilty of causing another war.  No, it is Hamas, Hezbollah, the Israelis, or the Zionists that are liable.  Perchance, the boy next door started this newer war in the Middle East.  After all, he is Lebanese, or is he from Syria.  Nevertheless, he looks suspicious.

    Historical facts flitter about.  Feelings flourish and of course, the seemingly practical solutions prosper, or at least people speak of these.  Musings about methods of diplomacy mysteriously rise and fall.  Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice is waiting for the “appropriate time” to mediate international relations

    U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she will travel to the Middle East to help with peace efforts “when it is appropriate and necessary.”  A day earlier, a State Department spokesman said Rice would be traveling to the Middle East for talks, but didn’t specify a timeframe or location for the trip.

    Emperor Bush has better things to do.  He need not be bothered with details or even Presidential acts.  King George II knows who is to blame and how to stop all this sh)(*&.  On an open microphone the Bushman said,

    “See, the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this (expletive) and it’s over.”

      Earlier, at a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he stated his feeling.  These were intended for public consumption, “Israel has a right to defend herself; every nation must defend herself against terrorist attacks and the killing of innocent life.”

    Before the current conflict, Cheney was proud to chime in on Mid-Eastern affairs.

    If the leaders of Hamas desire the help of America and the international community to build an independent, prosperous Palestinian state, then the way forward is very clear.  The Palestinian government must recognize Israel’s right to exist.  (Applause.)  And Hamas must renounce terror and dismantle the infrastructure of terror.  (Applause.)  One thing is certain: The United States will not be a party to the establishment of a Palestinian state that sponsors terror and violence.  (Applause.)

    Meanwhile, the world is coming apart [the tree is about to implode.]  War is in the wind; it is on the airwaves, and within the hearts, minds, souls, and bodies of many a man and woman.  Yet, it is not here, in America, now.  The combat and brutality exists only in lands far from our home.

    Americans sit safely, smugly, and snugly in their quaint little homes.  They cuddle up to their computers, or televisions sets.  They contemplate the causes and effects of battles in Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  United States citizens posture and postulate, they know what is occurring and why.  Rarely do they consider that the facts are just fancy.  They are nice, entertaining, and yes, even interesting.  I love being informed, even if only from a distance.  Actually, in this situation, I rather my awareness be distal.  For I cannot truly imagine the fear, I might feel if bombs were blasting within a few feet of my home.  I wonder during my waking and “restful” hours.

    Americans proclaim they care; yet, they do little to effectuate true change.  We can accept and acknowledge what is and what was.  We can advance academic scholarship and all this is essential but not enough is it?  The wars rage on, the dead and maimed pile up.

    I am forever told I am an idealist for I do believe war is not an option; for me, it is never necessary.  Some perceive me to be a fatalist, for I fear further doom.  I am certain Condi would accuse me of this.  Secretary of State Rice declared, “It doesn’t help to speculate on kind of apocalyptic scenarios,” though I do not believe that I am predicting an unprecedented future.  I am asking that we assess ourselves before we begin to think that we can “improve” the world for others.

    I will again pose what most believe is impossible.  We as a society must look within.  We must teach our children and ourselves to be true to our beliefs.  We must not bellow and then belie our words in our next breath.  Until we walk our talk and work towards peace in our homes, on our streets, in our communities, and within our own country we will not be trusted.  Our hypocritical stance will continue to create conflict.  We must question our human habits.

    It came to me that reform should begin at home, and since that day,
    I have had no time to remake the world
    – Will Durant [1885-1981 American Philosopher, Historian, and Writer]

    As I realized in my own life, [reference the Mountain Dew Story] and have since shared with others, what we believe is our nature, is actually what was nurtured as we grew.  Many of us have learned to be combative, competitive, and calculating in our personal lives.  None of these characteristics promote peace, tranquility, or calm.  What we do in our personal lives is reflected and projected in our professional existence.  Human beings are profoundly consistent in both the best and the worst ways.

    If you choose not to look at yourself, then look at your neighbor, your President, Prime Minister, or perhaps your parent.

    The longest journey is the journey inward.
    – Dag Hammarskjold  [Swedish Statesman and United Nations official, 1905-1961]

    Study their relationships at home or abroad.  Contemplate what they create as members of a Board or a brood.  Ponder what they present and how consistent they are.  If a President, Prime Minister, or a parent is corrupt and combative in one position, they will be so in another.  We are who we are, wherever we are; however, we can be otherwise, if we choose.  For now, most are busy assessing others, telling them they need to change.

    Most are contemplating the specifics, the particulars, and the details of war.  They do this all day.  Dissecting the issues within the Middle East has become a daily doing.  Some blog what they believe.  Journalists write what they think is correct.  Pundits pronounce this or that truth, as do politicos.  We twirl and whirl ourselves into a tizzy.  Flame wars ignite throughout this country.  These are the verbal versions of physical strife; they are as hand-to-hand combat.  Americans are engaged in a war of words as they ask for peace.  They revel in conflict as they speak of a desire for calm.

    The bickering and bantering continue as individuals strongly stress their idea of the perfect solution.  Yet, little changes.  I believe, until we work on ourselves from within and teach through our example, nothing will.  The cycle will continue, just as it has for centuries!

    The pursuit of peace and progress cannot end in a few years in either victory or defeat.
    The pursuit of peace and progress, with its trials and its errors, its successes and its setbacks,
    can never be relaxed and never abandoned.
    – Dag Hammarskjold  [Swedish Statesman and United Nations official, 1905-1961]

    The pursuit of peace cannot be achieved through external means.  It is an internal truth.  If you talk of peace; yet, you do not walk in peace, then you are denying your truth.  You are pretending to be what you profess.  The world will reflect what is within you; this is what you will teach for it is what you believe.

    I understand that habits are a challenge to change; however, until we grow from within, all the world will stay the same, or so I believe.  We will continue to see what we saw, for our perception is our perspective.  If our viewpoint accepts, allows, and advances violence, then violence will be our reality.  If we alter our interpretation of what it is that we see, then what we see will no longer be what it once was.  As we evolve, so too do our thoughts.

    It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.
    – Alfred Alder [Austrian psychologist; Founder of School of Individual Psychology]

    Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
    – Leo Tolstoi [Russian Author]

    I can look at a tree and see beauty or I can envision the bugs buried within the bark.  As I gaze out my window and notice the bend of the tree, I can blame the wind, or I can appreciate that the arch and arbor the leaves create.

    I am upset not by events,
    But rather by the way, I view them.
    – Epictetus  [Philosopher, 1st century AD]

    What I believe, I will conceive.  I believe the tree is tremendous.  It s branches are abundant; all grow separately; yet they are still connected.  Vegetation is as civilization itself.  There is much splendor and majesty.  There is also the contrast.  Some will love and others will war.  A few will speak of calm; more will cultivate chaos.  There are infinite reasons for every action and reaction.  Compassion and conflict are complex.  Even indifference holds many intricacies.

    Nevertheless, I, as do we all, choose whether I will contribute to one characteristic or another.  I need not find reasons for combat.  I need not find grounds for disputes.  Explaining the roots of all evil will eliminate none.  If I am to work towards peace, I must be peaceful in my approach to life and to people.  If I differentiate between those that I admire and those that rub me the wrong way, then I am not truly tranquil.  I can contemplate corruption and controversy.  I can clash with those whose facts differ from my own or I can choose otherwise.

    As I gaze upon the tree and I observe serenity.  It is harmony that I wish to emulate and encourage.

    May peace be with you and I.  May we walk the path of wisdom together.  May we never war.  Please let us live and let live.  If you or I want to stop this war or that one, then I think we must end the battles we create in our own world.

    He who knows other men is discerning; he who knows himself is intelligent.
    He who overcomes others is strong; he who overcomes himself is mighty.
    – Lao-tzu [Father of Taoism]

    References for those mired in details, obviously myself among these . . .

    Middle East News Tracker, Updated regularly with news on the Israel-Hezbollah-Lebanon crisis. Wall Street Journal. July 19, 2006
    Opportunist Killers, By Father Jonathan Morris. Fox News. July 18, 2006
    War Takes Lebanon Back to Civil War Days,By Donna Abu-Nasr. The Associated Press. Washington Post. Monday, July 17, 2006
    Bush, Putin Disagree Over Call for Mideast Cease-Fire, By Richard Keil. Bloomberg. July 15, 2006
    Don’t Blame Bush, The war in Lebanon isn’t his fault,By Jacob Weisberg. Slate. Wednesday, July 19, 2006
    Caught in the crossfire of blame, By Danny Katz. The Age. Fairfax Digital. July 20, 2006
    Updated report on the war in Lebanon – Day 7, Ya Libnan. Tuesday, July, 18, 2006
    All-out war feared as Beirut, Haifa hit. Almost 60 killed in two days of fighting. By Mitch Potter. Toronto Star Newspapers . July 14, 2006
    Israel pounds Lebanon, G8 leaders blame Hizbollah, By Lin Noueihed. Reuters. July 17, 2006
    Bush blames Syria, Iran for violence, 2 nations called the ‘root causes’. By Finlay Lewis. Copley News Service. July 18, 2006
    Rice: Urges restraint from all sides as Mideast explodes, Office of the Press Secretary. Chicago Sun Times. July 16, 2006
    Rice, Abulgheit differ on timing of ceasefire between Hizbollah, Israel. Kuwait News Agency. July 20, 2006
    Condoleezza Rice: Press Briefing: Situation in the Middle East U.S. Department of State. Noticias.info
    Transcript: Vice President Cheney Speaks to The American Israel Public Affairs Committee 2006 Policy Conference. Office of the White House Press Secretary. Washington Post. Tuesday, March 7, 2006
    Cheney: no US help for PA unless Hamas renounces terror By Associated Press. Israelinsider.  March 8, 2006
    War in the Wind, Blast Buries New York City Building © By Betsy L. Angert. Be-Think. July 10, 2006
    Drawing In, Lashing Out, Israelis want to turn inward, but occupational hazards — and a new crisis in the territories — keep them from doing so, By Jo-Ann Mort.  The American Prospect. July 10, 2006
    Bush defends Israel’s attacks in Lebanon, By Associated Press. MSNBC. July 13, 2006
    Animal House Summit; [Op-Ed] By Maureen Dowd. New York Times July 19, 2006
    A Rare Unscripted Moment, Bush fires off some pleasantries — and a four-letter word about Hezbollah, By James Gerstenzang, Los Angeles Times. July 18, 2006
    Childhood Obesity. Adult On-Set Diabetes. Osteoporosis. Soda © By Betsy L. Angert. Be-Think. July 10, 2006

    War in the Wind, Blast Buries New York City Building ©

    9/11 Photograph, By Ted S. Warren, Associated Press.
    WABC News. Photograph July 10, 2006.

    A building in New York City is buried.  Fires are blazing.  It is highly possible people were killed or injured.  The public speculates.  Could it be a bomb blast, an act of terrorism, homegrown or international?  Might the cause be a gas leak or an electrical explosion?  Perhaps, it is a crime of vengeance.  Early on, suicide was not considered.  For me, while the cause is important, it pales in comparison to the fact.

    War is in the air; it blows with the wind.  Acts of violence travel.  They cannot be isolated or contained to lands far from our shores.  If we accept war anywhere, we consent to it here.  Warfare is not a concept; it is concrete.  Combat comes easily to the minds of men or women in conflict.  Witness today, yesterday, and everyday.  We as a nation are at war.  While the struggle is far from our shores, it looms large in our collective psyche.

    Our leaders reassure us, and on the surface, Americans accept the façade they present.  [Some] Americans love when Bush bellows and Cheney chants, “We will confront them overseas so we do not have to confront them here at home.”  Americans applaud this non-sequitur logic.  They surmise war can be isolated and they are insulated.  In 2004, that was the battle cry.  There were no terrorist attacks on American shores since September 11, 2001.  Therefore, the theory was proposed, President Bush and his hawkish policies protected us.  Many accepted this as true.

    They then cast their ballots for this magnificent man.  They gave the Bush, Cheney team their mandate, or so that is how the Administration framed it.  Again, and again the Emperor exclaimed he had capital to spend and he spent it.  Thus, we have the cost of war.

    Causalities abound; the numbers are climbing.  Iraqi civilians are raped, maimed, murdered; yet, they do not count.  They are merely collateral damage.  Citizens of the United States remain safe, sane, or so it appears.  Thus, we support our President and allow him to continue in office.

    However, in our heart-of-hearts, we know; America is not out of harm’s way.  We recognize war is in the wind.  When a building explodes or implodes in New York City, we all panic with reason.  Citizens understand what they never wish to express.  As long as we accept war is an option, we are admitting that it can and will touch us, just as it affects our “enemies.”  No one is sheltered from the scars combat causes.

    King George II cannot protect and defend America from farther feuds; nor can Cheney or Rumsfeld.  These lovelies created what comes closer.  With thanks to our beloved President and his Cabinet, the possibility of war within the United States is real.

    For now, the prospect settles only in the recesses of our minds, and on drawing boards elsewhere.  Still, we all know the threat is valid.  Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice can rant and rage about States rights; yet, she too has no power to guard against the aggression she helped to promote.

    Once the notion is placed on the table, the tremors will be felt throughout the globe.  No man is an island; nor can any of us ever be insulated or isolated.

    After receiving many replies to this treatise, I realized that what might be so obvious to me, the writer, is not apparent, to many a dear reader.  Perchance I was not clear in my communication.

    Possibly some are so offended by this Administration and the ample accusations; terrorists are everywhere, they missed my message.  Those persons, and admittedly, typically I am among these, distrust Bush and the Bunch so much, that they see any talk of terrorism as a means for distracting Americans from the real issues.

    There are those that awoke hours after the initial blasts.  They already read and heard the theories.  These individuals knew the explosion was likely a suicide attempt.  Therefore, these bookworms thought I was telling tales.  I was stirring the National Security soup of the day.  For these persons, I was making an issue of what was nothing more than a “normal” event in the course of any day.

    Numerous persons are concerned even consumed with an exit strategy.  They want us out of Iraq and Afghanistan.  An event in a single day is not their focus.  These individuals might not question the entrance into war per se.  They struggle with the constant loss this conflict brings.  They may think stuff happens; hostilities occur, related to Iraq or not.

    I am repeatedly reminded, that as a whole, most people think war is an option, the one of last resort; however, the alternative is often considered acceptable.

    Conceivably, that may be the challenge.  When I wrote this treatise, I was speaking of my truth.  For me, “War is not an option, not now or ever!”  I do not think terrorism is a reason for combat.  I believe slavery, genocide, homicide, rape, and racism were not the causes of wars in the past.  Economic power and the desire for supremacy are, in my mind, the rationale behind battles and bickering.

    For me, the blast was a reminder of where we have been.  It is where we still are.  On this planet, war is in the wind!  It has been for centuries.

    For those that rose hours after investigations began, they could again sink into the comfort of complacency.  For the many that bash-Bush, more power to you.  I was not denying the validity of your beliefs.  I share these.  My only question was and is, why is war an option, ever?  I believe that if it is in the wind in the East, it will be in the air traveling westward.

    We can sit in the comfort of our cushy chairs.  We can profess how terrible the terrorist are or how awful the insurgent Bush is.  However, as long as we, Americans, allow for and accept war as an option, on our shores or on those aboard, then we can never know with certainty where the next strike will hit.  I think this is why those on the streets at the time of the blast were shaken.

    When I penned this missive, I was speaking to the stress exhibited by those there, near the building in New York City.  I was also addressing my own eternal anxiety.  Why is violent behavior ever an option?  Even now, believing the cause of the blast was an attempted suicide does not ease my mind.  Why do we aggressively strike out and hurt others or ourselves?

    I hope this communiqué helps to clarify my intent.  Perhaps, those that felt confused will re-visit the message.

    Please Peruse the Possibilities When War is in the Wind.

    Four-Story Building Collapses on East Side of Manhattan, New York Times. The Associated Press. July 10, 2006
    New York building collapses, burns, CNN News. July 10, 2006
    At least 11 injured in Manhattan building collapse, By Wil Cruz, Lauren Johnston and Chick Benett. Newsday.com. July 10, 2006
    UPDATE 2-Building collapses in New York City, Reuters. July 10, 2006. 9:59am ET
    President Bush Discusses Progress in the War on Terror July 12, 2004
    Policies in Focus. National Security Strategy, The White House.
    Cost of War.
    Causalities
    Iraq Body Count.
    Bush has a big agenda for 2005, By David Gregory, Chief White House correspondent. NBC News. December 30, 2004
    President Holds Press Conference. “I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.” November 4, 2004
    Iraq insurgency in ‘last throes,’ Cheney says, CNN News. Monday, June 20, 2005
    Iraq: Collateral damage, By Ashok Mitra. Rediff.com India Limited. March 25, 2003
    Bush Began to Plan War Three Months After 9/11. Book Says President Called Secrecy Vital. By William Hamilton. Washington Post. Saturday, April 17, 2004
    How Many Dead Iraqis? Guessing about collateral damage. By Fred Kaplan. Slate.Tuesday, February 25, 2003
    Strictly Confidential. Likely Humanitarian Scenarios. United Nations Document.  December 10, 2002
    Collateral Damage or Civilian Massacre in Haditha?, By Tim McGirk, Baghdad. Time Magazine. March 19, 2006, PDF version
    The Promise of Democratic Peace, Why Promoting Freedom Is the Only Realistic Path to Security. By Condoleezza Rice. The Washington Post. Sunday, December 11, 2005
    Remarks at the American University in Cairo, By Secretary Condoleezza. Rice Cairo, Egypt. June 20, 2005
    “America will not impose our style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, to attain their own freedom, and to make their own way.”
    The Iran Plans,
    Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb? By Seymour M. Hersh. The New Yorker. April 17, 2006
    North Korea missles rattle European markets, El Financiero en línea. July 5, 2006

    Marines Kill Iraqis. Men Murder Indianapolis Family. Human Nature ©

    I woke up one morning last week to further reports of killing. I wrote of Haditha earlier that week.  In that treatise, I mentioned the April 26, 2006 slaughter in Hamandiya, Iraq.  I was aware of the allegations made against Marines for a March melee.  On this morning, as I glanced at the periodicals, I saw reports stating the Camp Pendleton soldiers accused of that crime were cleared.  Details were scant.  Nevertheless, their reactive behavior was deemed righteous.  Apparently, the actions these soldiers took were in accordance with military procedures.  Hooray for the “good guys.”  I only wish I was clear; who are the men, women, and children in the white hats?

    We recognize the bad guys, or at least the media, the Administration, and society-at-large says we do.  The dreadful, the ghastly, and the horrific are the criminals.  They are those that kill in cold blood.  Terrorists are these.  Saddam Hussein is also, or so we are told.  The innocent Marines that slaughter young children, elderly men, pregnant women, and unarmed persons in their homes are not wrongdoers.  At least some of them are not.  Desmond Turner is a truly terrible man.  His associate James Stewart may also be.

    Last week in Indianapolis, Turner, with possible accomplice, 30-year-old James Stewart entered a neighborhood home and murdered three generations of one family, seven innocent people.  The crime was described as heinous.  The reason for the reactive behavior of this man was said to be unknown.  Hum, might I reflect.  I do not see the difference between killings.  Whether soldiers are killing the innocents or civilians are doing the deed, defenseless people are dying.

    Granted the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have been placed in a situation where they feel their very existence is threatened.  Simple survival is a challenge.  Persons living in the States are presumed to be safe and sane.  However, life for them is not always, as it would seem.  Poverty poses some awful challenges.  Even those with money can be placed in precarious situations.  Crises are abounding, even in the heartlands.

    What for me is the issue is man’s inhumanity to man.  Today we live in a world where aggression is acceptable.  It is posed as animal instinct.  It is the nature of man and beast.  Fight or take flight.  Thus, we see, hear, and read of hostility everywhere.  George W. Bush, the President of the most powerful nation in the world boasts, “Bring it on!”  He declares, we want him/them, “Dead or alive.”  Granted, belatedly he apologized for his signature statement.  However, the request for forgiveness was bestowed years after the fact and though offered contritely, it seemed less than sincere.

    Mr. Bush our fair leader stated, were it not for the First Lady, King George II would not have uttered the apology; he had no idea there was a problem with his pronouncement.  Sadly, few of us do.  Bush does The as a bunch of us do; he acts without thinking.  Is that too, the nature of the beast?

    We blurt out whatever words we want, whether they yield as weapons or are expressions of kindness.  We deceive, destroy, and devastate others and ourselves, physically and mentally.  We kill!  We rarely think, until after the fact.  Humans are a bundle of emotions; however, they have the ability to rationalize, post-problematic aggressions.  Some presume; fauna do not have the capacity to reason or reflect.  Wo/man does.  It is often said, our ability to rationalize is makes us different; man is more highly evolved than other mammals.  Yet, I have not read of, seen, or heard of an animal engage in self-destructive behavior.

    Mr. Bush claims, “I speak plainly [sometimes.]”  Many Americans considered this a likable quality; they voted for this bumbler because he was as they are, “human”.  This can be good; however, often it is not.

    When the all-too human Bush returned from the White House after first voicing his terrorizing machismo remarks, his wife Laura greeted him inquiring, why would you say such things.  Baby Bush quipped, “Well, it was just an expression that came out.  I didn’t rehearse it.  It just was there when they asked me my opinion.”  That is our Emperor, the man we turn to for guidance, Good Ole Shoot-From-The-Hip GW.  Sadly, we as individuals follow his lead too often.

    Admittedly, at times, the Bush opinion, is scripted, practiced, and prepared.  It needs to be, for as the President said, he has learned.  “You gotta be mindful of the consequences of the words.”  With all the recently revealed Iraqi war woes, King George II is being more “mindful” of the words he uses.

    Our Commander-and-Chief, the President discussed what appears to be a series of atrocities among the Marines.  He addressed concerns for the men in uniform.  However, King George II assured us that Marines are “honorable” men and women.  They respect “the law.”  Commander Bush presented his defense for the troops.  The King rationalized what is knowingly wrong; Mr. Bush spoke in support of [legitimate] killing.

    The President continued to declare the war, the unilateral attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, as justifiable.  He proclaims these were necessary.  For this President battle often is.  Bush believes that there is evil in the Middle East.  To ensure that it does not come to our country, we must annihilate all [suspected] terrorists abroad.

    In contrast, the new Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki thought the massacres unacceptable.  This leader did not address the initial war, which brought him to power.  He could not expect to argue what has provided him with a revered position.  He is human; power, war, and turbulence are fine, as long as they serve him.  Mr. Maliki charged American forces have regularly attacked Iraqi civilians.  He said the abuses would be taken into account when determining the necessary departure of American forces.  Maliki, as most of the world is resigned to warfare.  It is only when individuals might be involved that he becomes inflamed.

    Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld has few complaints.  As log as he can retain his post and send innocents off to kill other harmless souls, he has no reason to complain.  When asked of Mr. Maliki’s assertions, he declined to respond.  Rumsfeld said he had not yet read them.  Would it have mattered if he had?  He also refused to discuss the specifics of the Haditha deaths, though supposedly he had read reports of these many months earlier.  Rumsfeld stated he did not want to interfere in the ongoing investigations.  Does anyone?  Will anyone ever answer the real questions?  Why is war ever an option?  When is killing ever acceptable?

    If we attack, seeking vengeance, are we honoring the commandments we pretend to support?  When we covet oil, power, or seek a worldwide democracy are we respecting our neighbors?  When we murder, rape, steal pride, and possessions, how can we claim to be honorable?

    The pious man that speaks for God might know.  Mr. Bush knows his commandments, as do his equally religious Cabinet rangers.  Yet, he and his Defense Department order the youth of America violate these.  They train the young to execute and they do.

    This military is not the only organization that sanctions the violent exercises, parents, guardians, and society-at-large endorse these.  We all accept cruelty in our homes.  Persons living in Western cultures turn on their television sets and ask that the games begin.  As ancient Romans in an amphitheatre, we cheer on the strong, the brutal, the snide, the rude, and the crude.  Blood races through our veins and it spills out onto carpets and fields.  Movie theatres are filled with the same fervor and red gooey substance flows on the screens.  Acts of viciousness invade video monitors.  So much of society is bathing in blood.  The Western world is a gory and gruesome one.

    Psychologists Craig A. Anderson, Ph.D., and Karen E. Dill, Ph.D. state that “One study reveals that young men who are habitually aggressive may be especially vulnerable to the aggression-enhancing effects of repeated exposure to violent games.”  The professionals continue to discuss research findings on sadism, “The other study reveals that even a brief exposure to violent video games can temporarily increase aggressive behavior in all types of participants.”

    “Violent video games provide a forum for learning and practicing aggressive solutions to conflict situations,” said Dr. Anderson.  “In the short run, playing a violent video game appears to affect aggression by priming aggressive thoughts.  Longer-term effects are likely to be longer lasting as well, as the player learns and practices new aggression-related scripts that can become more and more accessible for use when real-life conflict situations arise.”

    People accept this.  Most know of similar studies.  However, people say fighting is characteristic of humans; it is natural. Some people are overjoyed as they witness aggression.  The adrenalin is high as we engage in it.  Insensitive to the slayings and subjugation, we laugh as we watch these.  Then, on occasion we speak in horror of the same.  Silly humans, “tricks are for kids.” apparently, even the eldest among us are children.  Few of us have aged enough to stop the play, the war games, the bullying, teasing, and the slaughter that accompanies these.

    Instead, we do as humans do.  We rationalize, justify, criticize, and blame others for our actions.  Humankind, with their neo-cortex denies the strength of the amygdala, the emotional sentinel, and intellectualizes why s/he is right and all others are wrong.

    We are witnessing this among the military and even many of the “newsmakers vetted with the troops.  These individuals claim the playing fields are no longer fair.  Guerillas are everywhere.

    We call those that fight for religious reasons, financial freedoms, or sovereignty guerrillas, for they do not follow the rules of engagement.  The insurgents dress in civilian clothing.  It is impossible to discern who is friend and who is foe.

    Each time I hear this explanation, posed as a complaint, I think about the history of America.  I recall reading that the revolutionaries were successful in battle because, unlike the British in their starched and vibrant uniforms, the colonists wore casual wear.  A Tory soldier was unable to identify a warrior from an innocent colonist.

    Our founding fathers, those forever-faithful men of reason, were once the group intent on overthrowing the government.  Yet, those guerrillas are now celebrated.  They were the first Americans and what made this country great.  Who are we?

    I am told, today, in all our martial garb and glory, we identify ourselves as humanitarians.  Our servicemen and women are honorable.  The President of the United States has told us so.

    Mr. Bush said the Marine Corps are taught core values as part of their training.  General Michael Hagee, the Marine Corps commandant assured us this is so.  He said, “We do not employ force just for the sake of employing force.  We use lethal force only when justified, proportional and, most importantly, lawful.”

    Apparently, the law provides a wide berth.  Principles, morals, and ethics must state slaughter is acceptable within certain parameters.  These limitations are too obscure for me.  Still, I am not the authority on war and never will be.  I think combat is never an option, though for the majority of the world, it is.  Clearly, Americans think it was or at least they thought so years ago.

    Americans see themselves as those that promote the Democracy we love, even if it means provoking others.  The United Sates is the worlds “greatest” superpower.  We have weapons in abundance.  We have wealth.  Wisdom is all that we as a nation lack.  America entered a region uninvited.  The Administration of this country decided to attack another country unilaterally, with little reason or support.  They lied.  They never built a broad coalition; they trusted their personal desires and ignored the truth.

    The Bush Bandits committed themselves to a protracted war without a plan.  Actually, they dedicated the lives of devoted soldiers to a winless wager.  Neoconservatives gambled and they lost.  Three thousand soldiers perished.  Tens of thousands of civilian took their last breath and still the battles rage on.

    Soldiers are stressed; of this, I have no doubt.  Thus, they think, ??just kill them all.’  Corporal James Crossan said, “Several members of the unit were young and inexperienced and may have snapped after seeing one of their colleagues killed by the bomb.”  Platoons have learned to loathe any one that does not look like them.  “I think they were blinded by hate … and they just lost control,” Corporal Crossan said.  It comes with combat.  Much does.

    Murders, massacres, butchery, and carnage, these are all a part of war.  I do not understand it.  I cannot comprehend the need for aggression of any sort.

    I can only accept the soldiers involved in the March massacre were absolved of guilt.  The investigation into the massacre at Haditha continues.  The April 26 at Hamandiya incident is being debated.  Yet, few admit what we as a people have created.  Society will punish Desmond Turner and James Stewart willingly.  A court martial may find a Marine or two guilty.  Civilian courts may judge these soldiers, as the military system will.  I know not.  I am left to wonder how on a planet where war is pervasive and violence is promoted, how do we justify the difference?  How do brutalities committed by individuals out of uniform differ from those committed by persons wearing official attire?  Moreover, why is there a need for either?

    A personal note if you will . . . As I read of and observe those in other animal kingdoms, I am struck by their compassion.  Mammals kill only when their survival is threatened.  On occasion, they maim accidentally, often during what they think is play.  I have yet to discover a self-destructive streak in any mammal, but man.  I am forever fascinated by what we attribute to nature and natural instincts.  Animals do not kill for the sake of killing; nor do they slaughter in mass.  Why is it that the rational brain justifies the unjustifiable?  Someone please tell me!

    References for War, Warriors, Wounded, Weapons, and Why?

    Lawmaker: Marines killed Iraqis ??in cold blood,’ By Jim Miklaszewskiand Mike Viqueira. NBC News. May 17, 2006
    Murder Charges Likely for Marines in Iraq Death, By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times June 2, 2006
    Marines Kill Innocent Iraqi Family. Verdict “Not Guilty”? © Betsy L. Angert, Be-Think May 28, 2006
    Military clears troops in Ishaqi raid probe Associated Press, MSNBC June 3, 2006
    7 Family Members Slain in Indianapolis, By Charles Wilson. Associated Press. Forbes.com June 02, 2006
    What happened in Haditha? By Richard Engel. Middle East Bureau Chief, NBC News. May 30, 2006
    NBC: Marines accused of cover-up in killing May 25, 2006
    Killing of Civilians in Iraq Highlights Stress on Troops; Repeated Guerilla Attacks May Play Role Specialists Say, By Bryan Bender. Boston Globe.  June 4, 2006
    President Discusses War on Terror National Defense University. March 8, 2005
    George W. Bush and the G-Word, By Al Kamen. The Washington Post.October 14, 2005
    Social Learning Theory of Aggression By Albert Bandura. The Journal of Communication
    Transmission of Aggression Through Imitation of Aggressive Models By Albert Bandura, Dorothea Ross, and Sheila A. Ross. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology
    The Social Learning Theory, By Margaret Delores Isom. November 30, 1998
    Aggression: A Social Learning Analysis By Albert Bandura
    The Emotional Brain By Laura Arendal. BrainConnection.com. May 2000
    Intuition: Thinking through Your Gut, By Laura Arendal. BrainConnection.com. May 2000
    The Study of Aggression, By Dr Paul Kenyon, University of Plymouth
    Violent Video Games Can Increase Aggression, By Craig A. Anderson, Ph.D. and Karen E. Dill, Ph.D. American Psychological Association
    Iraq Coalition Casualty Count
    Did Marines Kill “in Cold Blood”?, By Sally B. Donnelly.  Time Magazine. May 29, 2006
    • PDF Did Marines Kill “in Cold Blood”?, By Sally B. Donnelly.  Time Magazine. May 29, 2006
    “I Saw Marines Kill Civilians”, By Michel Guerrin. For Le Monde. Translated for CounterPunch by Norman Madarasz
    Accused marines were ‘blinded by hate’ Timesonline. June 01, 2006
    Accused Marines Blinded By hate, Australian  News, June 02, 2006
    General to Marines: kill only when justified, By Will Dunham. Reuters May 25, 2006
    US forces shoot at speeding car and kill Iraqi woman in labour Dispatch
    Did Marines Massacre Iraqi Civilians? By Jonathan Karl. ABC News May 26, 2006
    Troops Respect Iraqis’ Rights, Rumsfeld Says, By Michael R. Gordon. New York Times. June 2, 2006
    Probe Finds Marines Killed Unarmed Iraqi Civilians, By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times. May 26, 2006
    Iraqis not focused on massacre claims, By Ian Pannell. BBC News, Baghdad. June 2, 2006
    Funeral for 6 Slain Ind. Family Members, By Ken Kusmer. The Associated Press. Washington Post. Wednesday, June 7, 2006
    Are Violent Acts Human Nature? By Leslie Yeransian. ABC News June 2, 2006
    The Logic of War Crimes in a Criminal War By Mara Verheyden-Hilliard and Brian Becker. A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition. June 3, 2006
    The Rise and Fall of Sociobiology, By Peter Augustine Lawler. The New Atlantis, Number 1, Spring 2003
    Bush: Regrets? Confessions? Bring ‘Em On!, By Leslie Savan, Boston Globe and AlterNet June 5, 2006
    Bring on the 2nd thoughts: Bush admits some ‘regret’ By Andrew Miga. Boston Herald. Friday, January 14, 2005
    • Family Slain In Indianapolis Bloodbath CBS News June 2, 2006
    Indianapolis Slay Suspect Surrenders CBS News June 3, 2006