Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.    The Honorable Governor of Texas, George W. Bush

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, December 10, 2006

There Was an Explosion

There was an explosion. The glass walls of buildings were blown into flesh tearing shards that raked across the industrial space first in one direction, and then, with compounding cruelty, swept in reverse by blasts of deadly debris-laden air inrushing to fill the vacuum created of what had been a day like any other day.

Riddled victims, those able to regain their footing, began to struggle in the dust and smoke for exit. Concussion racked, amnesiated minds struggled to make sense of the horror around them, some trapped under debris or immobilized by injury and increasingly terrified as a flaming hell gathered up around them.

Shocked relations of survivors gathered, unknowing of their loved one's fate. Some prayed, some sat stonily. Others expressed their incomprehension in anger at the sudden uncertainty of their fates, at the inability of anyone to make immediate sense of the bewildering chaos made of their lives with such instant totality.

A massive rescue and fire mission was launched. The press was notified. Helicopter reports interrupted The View and The Opening Bell and CNN Headline News. Local news vans rushed down the shoulders of expressways to set up remotes. Reporters tried to shake the cobwebs from shocked victims and get the coveted eyewitness report. Within days the news would spread as far as the Manchester Guardian and the ubiquitous Wikipedia.

Scores were injured, and three were dead. A big fire. A big story. The Sunday paper led with pages.

A big explosion. One big explosion.

Now add up all the heartbreak, loss, shock, uncertainty and grief spawned by this event, multiply by a thousand, and maybe one can begin to comprehend what Iraqis have gone through. In one month. How many thousands of pages would be necessary to tell the stories of the victims?. How many hundreds of hours of air time to relate the tales of heroism in the direst of circumstances?

I don't know better than anyone else what is to become of Iraq. I don't know what role, if any, we ought to play in Iraq's present or future. I don't know how many of Iraqis' horrors are directly or indirectly our responsibility.

But I know this.

In the enveloping shroud of such human suffering there is no place for pride. Along the cadaver strewn road that will lead humanity out of this hell there is no room for dignity.

And in the midst of this enormity of human suffering, if one's humanity is to remain at all intact, there is no prestige.

There are decisions to be made. Plans to unfold, be unraveled, and be planned anew. There are directives, reprisals and compromises to consider.

And if one is yet human, there is no suffering to waste on the bruised American ego. If one feels at all, there is no emotion to squander on the distasteful reality of American surrender.

At 8:06 one day there was an explosion. Days later, the shock waves continue to buffet a Midwestern city. Lives are destroyed. Now imagine that one had followed at 8:21, and at 8:36, and so on toward an unreadable future. This is the wicked pulse of Iraq.

To consider for one moment, while in the course of resolving the hostilities that bedevil these people, whether it is important or not that America shall be seen to surrender is unfeeling in the utmost.

To have the emotional capital to even suggest such consideration is to devalue life.