I discovered a new website today in a rather circuitous way.
Quotidian Grace was kind enough to comment on my post about Zambia yesterday, so I clicked over to find out what she has been talking about. Scolling down over the past few days, I read about the theme for the PCUSA General Assembly and her vote for a more prophetic word, which led me to Kruse Kronicle, a blog I had never visited. Reading through some of his posts, I found this map from Maps of War. It’s worth spending the ninety seconds to watch and see what history looks like.
When we were in Cappadocia on what may have been my favorite day of our trip, our guide Seref was talking about the region being the place you invaded on the way to what you really wanted to conquer. In a little over a paragraph, he gave us a list of all the peoples to whom Cappadocia had belonged. He finished by saying, “Today it is inhabited by the Turkish people; we do not know who will be next.”
Iraq became a nation, idependent of its colonizers, in 1932. It’s borders were drawn for the first time — by non-Iraqis — around 1920. This was Persia. In the same way Seref described Cappadocia, this land had belonged to everyone from the Babylonians and the Sassanids to the Mongol hoardes (why are they always “hoardes”?). Bush tried another one of his if-I-say-it-I-can-make-it-happen speeches today in his press conference. At least this time he admitted things were not going so well. One of the things that troubles me is he seems to think Iraq only came on the world stage with any sense of importance when we invaded. He doesn’t have any sense of how five thousand years of history have shaped the land and its peoples.
But he’s not the whole problem. In all the verbal flailing going on as our midterm election nears, I have yet to find anyone who speaks with any clarity and sense of history when they talk about what we should do. Most of the words that come out of the mouths of both Democrats and Republicans sound like little more than playground chatter:
“Your idea sucks.”
“No, your idea sucks.”
“Oh, yeah — well your party sucks.”
“No, your party sucks.”
“No, I don’t.”
Isn’t there someone who can speak cogently about the situation we have created by our invasion in words and not be defensive or condescending? (The question is mostly rhetorical: I can’t think of anyone.)
I have one other question: why aren’t we, the people, angry enough to do something? In Hungary, demonstrations have been going on for over a month with people calling for their president to resign because he lied. Thousands of people are still in the streets. Maybe we have become so cynical that we expect our leaders to lie. While we spend two billion dollars a week to establish a democracy in Iraq, our democratic process is a sham. We have leaders with no vision and a people with no hope. Harsh as it sounds, I know no other way to explain it.
A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past, but is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.
I feel cynical tonight. I am more cynical than I was a year ago, or a month ago when it comes to our political process. I’m so cynical that I’m reusing quotes while they are still warm. I did see one hopeful sign this week. I was in Hingham Center a couple days ago and saw about six or seven people, most of them fairly elderly, holding signs that said “Peace” and “Get out of Iraq.” The town has a municpal referendum on the ballot to tell President Bush they don’t sanction the war. No one was screaming, but they were out there.
I need to be reminded they aren’t the only ones.