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Tuesday, March 18, 2003

It saddens me to think about the way the world is right now. Not to think about it is unthinkable, but thinking about it all the time is impossible.

Limiting my intake works best. Maybe some people can handle it all day every day, but once or twice or nine times a day is about as often as I want to deal with it. I want to know what's going on, but I don't want to know what the talking heads think might be going on, or could happen next, or should be happening instead.

Not all the time, at least. Not all day every day. I'm weak that way. I don't care to make myself any more disheartened than absolutely necessary over things I can't do anything about.

Obviously, recording my misgivings hasn't kept us from getting to this point. If candlelight vigils and street demonstrations have no effect on the decision making, maybe I should just butt out and let them do their worst. Then when it's over, I'll help them deal with the consequences as best I can. Sort of like the way France and Japan will help us rebuild Iraq.

I realize I'm one isolated individual with a pretty narrow perspective on things. The reason I spend my day doing my job as if it mattered is because it does. It matters if bills get paid and reports get filed, as much now as ever. Putting aside the blaring headlines and picking up a gently comic novel for half an hour in the afternoon makes a difference in my life. It lets me keep going.

By staying sane, I can focus on what I know for sure. I know, for example, that there's going to be a bloody war, and people I know and love will be deeply affected by it. I don't know if it's the best way to handle the situation, but I know it's coming no matter what I believe.

But I also know there's another war, one that's important to me. It's the real war, the war on despair, suffering and injustice. It's the war that would end all other wars if we could ever win it. And if we ever do win, it'll be won not by armies and governments but by individuals, doing what they can. It'll be won in small steps, over a long time, not in sudden flashes of violence and destruction.

To win a war we have to define it. We can't succeed unless we know what it is we're trying to accomplish. I can't depose Saddam or capture Osama, but I can do what seems right to me. That doesn't mean ignoring the news, but it does mean taking it in doses that allow me to function. I'm not sure what I owe the Iraqi people, but I do know what we owe the company that rents us our forklifts.

My war for a better world is fought at a personal level. I do my job, and I get the bills paid so other people can do their jobs. I keep the bird feeders filled and put the recycling container out every Thursday night. I read the news, I listen to the news, I watch the news, and sometimes I even write about the news. Then I go outside and pull weeds.

When I have extra money, it goes to causes I believe in, like Amnesty International and the ACLU, organizations that defend people who can't defend themselves and stand up for the rights of everyone, not just the rich and powerful. I don't have a lot of extra money, so I don't make much of a dent in the injustices in the world. But that's my war, and I'm proud to know I'm fighting on the right side.

wind chimes

Off the corner of the back porch.

It's hard to predict how much my life will change once the fighting starts. I'll watch more CNN. Other than that, I'll try not to let it change my routine any more than necessary. I won't act much differently, unless bombs start falling on me or someone I care about (and I care about a lot of people). But will I feel differently? I honestly don't know.

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If I thought I could convince Bush and Hussein to let Judge Judy mediate, I'd be on the phone to Washington and Baghdad. (Actually, that's not the best idea, come to think of it. Three strong-willed people who think they're always right probably wouldn't do any better than two, even if we locked them all in her chambers without beer, cigarettes or deodorant.)

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Avian Action
"But the hawk, who keeps perching in the walnut tree just off my porch, will not sit still while I get close enough to take its picture."

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If I went to battle
With someone's herd of cattle
You'd have steak when the job was done.