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Saturday, October 13, 2001

Oh, I so want to be against the war. Not "against" in the sense that nobody likes war, but in the sense that I'm fully committed to the belief that it's wrong and unjust and unfair and based on inherently wrong assumptions and a corrupt sense of morality. I want to believe that, because then I could sing the songs and march on the lines again. I could feel the way I did when we were trying to get the country out of Vietnam — that it was the only way right-thinking people could act. I don't want to feel as if I'm betraying Joan Baez and Pete Seeger and Phil Ochs.

But I don't believe the U.S. and its allies are on the wrong side, or that what they're doing (what we're doing, I must remember that) is corrupt or invalid. And that makes me ache all the more for the lives being destroyed (the lives we're destroying) on the ground in Afghanistan. I don't know how many children have lost their parents, or how many parents have lost children. I just know that if that number is one, it's still too many.

It was a disturbing thing to learn about myself, that I could be swayed by events and circumstances into betraying what I thought were fundamental beliefs. It was so easy when I knew the war was wrong. No doubts got in the way of aligning myself with the people who revere life above all. No amount of political rhetoric could convince me that it was okay to send soldiers across the world to kill other soldiers (and suspicious-looking civilians) in their own land. But that was then.

Everything changes when we're attacked at home, whether it's the first punch or not. That takes it out of the esoteric realm of political theory and distills the motivation for striking back.

At least, that's how it feels after barely a month.

I wonder if after months or years of news from the front (or fronts, as appears to be the goal), of pushing forward and falling back, of wins and losses (if such things can be counted), of POWs and MIAs and body bags and burning villages... I wonder if it might start to look and feel too much like an old war, one we can never seem to put completely into the history books and out of our collective psyche.

I wonder if maybe then the songs will start to resonate again.



The old war tore this country apart, and don't let anyone tell you it didn't. This new one so far has brought us together. But still, I admire anyone who's so certain of the cause of peace that they can march and sing now, when it must seem that everyone is on the other side.

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