Banks County Opinions...

APRIL 2, 2003


Column

By: Shar Porier
The Banks County News
April 2, 2003

The paradox
My heart lies heavy, like a rock in my chest. It feels hard to breathe.
I’m surrounded by men in uniform, their faces pensive, their voices quavering. They’re trying to say “goodbye” to their loved ones. Though determination has set their jaws, their eyes of brown, blue and green hold their true emotions.
I find myself caught in the whirlwind of sadness and fear, of conviction and commitment.
These men of the Georgia Army National Guard 214th Field Artillery are leaving today. They not only leave their families and friends, they also leave their jobs, their education.
It seems a lot to ask from them. It seems a lot they give to us.
Like the families, I want to stop them. I want to stop the overwhelming pain. I want to stop the war. I want them to go back home, go back to college, go back to their jobs.
The war now carries 100 faces for me. It has become more personal. I have met some of these men, talked with them, laughed with them, shared their hopes and their fears.
I cannot cheer them as they leave, though I wish I could. My heart is in my throat and my eyes are brimmed with tears I fight to hold back.
I’m spinning in a vortex. I abhor violence. I do not approve of this war.
Yet, I cannot help but wish the men well and tell the commander to bring them all back safe and sound. But, that means they must kill first and must put themselves in harm’s way to do so.
How is it possible to support our troops, respect them, and yet be against the war?
There lies the paradox. One that many of us protesters face. We may protest the war, the policy and administration that created it; but none of us wish any harm to come to those who are willing to give their lives to their commitment to duty.
Should we quit, give up our right to freedom of speech because it doesn’t suit President Bush, his cohorts and the hawks? Does it make us anti-American to speak what is in our hearts? Are we wrong because we don’t want to see bloodshed? Unpatriotic because we want to know the truth?
Perhaps the job for us back home is to ensure the reason they are over there is just and honorable. That they are participating in a true struggle for democracy, one the Iraqi people want. Not just one the administration thinks they should have.
While Hussein is without a doubt a heartless man who inflicts oppression on his people, does he really threaten the world? Does he really have the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) our government says they “know” he has? Are we really there to find terrorist cells? Are we there for honorable intentions or are we there for oil?
It’s hard not to be a skeptic. I find it hard to believe the claims of the current administration because of all the ties to oil, from the president on down through his cabinet and advisors. Condoleeza Rice, who sits on the Chevron Oil board of directors, even has an oil tanker named after her. Dick Cheney has long been involved (since 1948) with deal-makers in Washington, our military and governments abroad both as a congressman, as advisor, and as CEO of Halliburton.
Halliburton has, conveniently, already been contracted to handle oil fields and shipping in Iraq. It seems more likely that the administration is looking for profit by the invasion of Iraq, not the promotion of democracy and freedom, not the prevention of terrorism, not the threat to world of WMD.
That is what concerns me, the real reason we are over there. I’m not convinced it is an honorable one. So, I will continue to speak against the war. As Jackson Brown once wrote: “I’m not going to shut my eyes, ‘till I go down.” That is my way to serve my country. It is my way to honor our men and women putting their lives on the line.
We both fight for truth and justice.
Shar Porier is a reporter for The Banks County News.

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Column

By: Margie Richards
The Banks County News
April 2, 2003

A view of war from the ‘fence line’
Until Sept. 11 we, meaning my generation of 40 something’s and younger, were pretty lucky, maybe more lucky than we knew. Time to wake up and face reality.
I’ve been “on the fence” about the war, able to see both sides of the argument for and against military action in Iraq. And while seeing both sides is often seen as a gift, sometimes it can be a curse too.
It’s been hard for me to argue with some of the images I’ve seen this week in war coverage “live and in my living room.”
One of the most vivid has been the image of Iraqi children standing on the side of the road, many holding their empty air-dropped food packets, waving to Americans.
It’s clear sanctions against the country have starved those who are most innocent, while Saddam has built gilded palaces for himself and thumbed his nose at the world, including his own people.
According to the “embedded journalist” reporting the story, many of our soldiers wanted to throw them their own food packets, but were discouraged by their superiors, who were afraid the children would hurl themselves at the army vehicles and be injured.
I have to say that I admire President Bush for doing what he feels to be right when it would be so much easier to “go along” with the U.N. and continue to wait for developments.
That and other things since the war began have given me pause.
That said, I have a hard time believing that we needed to go to war at this time and if I’m honest with myself, that’s mostly been out of fear.
I’ve been afraid that war with Iraq will bring on a furious onslaught of terrorist attacks here and further damage our relations with other countries around the world, who will have one more reason to see us a “bullies.”
I’ve also been afraid because I have a soon-to-be 18-year-old son.
All the young men in uniform look like my son to me. And I am afraid. I ask myself, are the principles of going to war that I can agree with, worth seeing my own son go to war?
As patriotic as I may feel, my answer to that is an absolute “no.”
So here I am, on the fence still about this issue and here is where I likely will stay. I don’t even feel that I’m wise enough to form a definite opinion on the subject.
But I can do some constructive things while I’m straddling this fence. I can support my fellow citizens who are over there fighting and dying, regardless of my personal reservations or beliefs. I can continue to try to give back to my community here, with needs that continue no matter what else is going on in the world.
I can pray to the One who is really in control. I can pray for those boys who look like my son, and for their families. I can pray that this effort will be over soon, with as little loss of life on both sides as possible. And I can pray that Saddam Hussein and others like him, will be driven from their reins of power, in whatever way God wills.
I don’t know how all this will turn out. The fact is, no matter how wise or knowledgeable any human being is, no one does know, except God.
That’s one thing I’m not on the fence about.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison County Journal.


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