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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Can We Talk About This First? by @etflint, author of Fall of the Citizens


Guest post by Eric Thomas



The United States is off to war again. Before you tab away to check your Facebook page, please take a moment and think about that.

In this saccharine slurry of constant distraction that turned the average American’s brain into nothing but an emotion based device—incapable of ever focusing on a single piece of information longer than a nanosecond—we forget that there are actual lives affected by this decision.

We never zoom out and stop discussing this in abstract.

Your tax dollars are going to arm Syrian rebel forces. We shrug this off to quickly in this country, realize it doesn’t really “affect me,” then tab away to watch Farah Abraham have sex on camera.

Some people don’t care, and they’d rather we not mention the news—much less discuss it–because it’s an imposition on the brain. It’s rude to bring it up.

Before we watch Farrah again, can anyone tell me why this country wants war with Syria? Assad used chemical weapons in his conflict with Syrian rebels, which apparently “crossed the red line.” Who set that red line? Was there a vote on that? Did your member of Congress make that line? Can we call them? Furthermore, why is there no vote on the war itself? What does the United States gain as more treasure is spilled in the Middle Eastern sand? If the Syrian rebels win, what will fill that power vacuum? Do we know? Can we ask?

Critics cry weakness, claiming that those who avoid war are subjecting their country to the ‘wimp’ tag. What did the United States honestly get out of its last FIVE wars? Was the initial Iraq war, under George Bush the first, really worth it when you remember that it was the first time an American army put boots in the Fertile Crecent? Did your gas get any cheaper?

The Middle East is a hornets nest best to be left alone. Every country with an eye on needless expansionism or imperial ambition sinks in their sand.

The last decade wasn’t enough lesson?

Before we find out what that wacky Amanda Bynes is up to, can we ask why “wimpy-ness” is so important, when the Iraq war only saddled us with epic debt and thousands of citizens who lie dead or injured?

We weren’t allowed to ask ten years ago because it was “un-American” to ask these questions, how about now? Can we stop our country from doing this before it’s too late?

While we’re at it, before we look for photos of Kim K’s new baby, why can’t we also ask the following question: Why is it we are always ready with a checkbook when it’s another country?

If a country in the Middle East is experiencing hardship, there’s always money for them. If there are men women and children dying across the fruited plain due to lack of health insurance, infrastructure, or poverty—America turns a deaf ear.

If the purple mountain’s majesty is covered by the unemployed and underemployed; we don’t care. If the amber waves of grain are crowded with the dead children of inner city violence; it’s their problem.

Before you tab away to see what Perez Hilton is saying, calling these the questions of a cliché hippy on the way, please ask yourself why these are stupid questions. In the past, when the US was the horn of plenty, this question could be dismissed as ridiculous. Today, the chasm between rich and poor is wider than ever. There is a racking, rising poverty problem in this country that we need to acknowledge before we ship off to another conflict in the Middle East. Can we ask ourselves what we do with that human cost?

There are people who are desperate to find work or to lift themselves out of the ditch that is underemployment. Put them to work and that helps all of us, from the people who benefit directly from whatever they provide—to the people who sell them goods bought with their paychecks. We can declare War on Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Bosnia and drugs but we can’t hold a human hand out to our neighbors who desperately need help?

I wrote Fall of the Citizens, my first novel, because I’ve been horrified by that divide. The poor are slowly being left behind; the American dream is unavailable outside of lottery tickets. I wrote it for the police and firefighters who’ve been laid off by budget cuts and the soldiers returning home who face foreclosure because they don’t have any “traditional experience.” I’m not saying that America’s best days are behind. I’m simply saying that Americans need to stop seeing only the hand or screen in front of their face and wake up.

It’s not just “How does this affect me?” It should be “Should we be doing this?” Maybe there’s some reason we’re missing. Maybe the United State should go to war with Syria. Before it happens, can someone please answer that question?

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