Friday, October 08, 2004

Debating whilst debating…

Don't forget to watch the debate tonight!...

… because you won't get one here.

Yesterday, I learned to my great disappointment that my friend here at work, Christopher, is a supporter of Bush and a believer that the war in Iraq was and is a good idea. It saddened me because he seems, in most other ways, a rational human being.

Then, I got into work this morning and found this note:

We harbor a great light. We must not be afraid to shine it into the darkest of our world's geographies. Even if it fails the frilly chic of French café society, or the failing light of Teutonic rebuff.

Christopher (name withheld to protect the guilty)

October 7, 2004


Let's start a debate on the war in Iraq. One sentence per turn. (Here, I've gone 1st.) Put your response on my desk.


And this is what I wrote back:

Hey, Christopher.

I found the message on my desk and thought about it for a bit and here's what I thought.

I could not begin to debate the war in Iraq without debating the nature of war, which some would say is human nature. It would probably be just as useful to debate death itself.

I'm a pacifist. I don't believe war has ever or can ever bring any good in a real situation. (The notable exception to this being the war in Europe in the middle of the last century.) Also, with the abundance of evidence coming from both sides, showing that we should not have gone into Iraq, I honestly believe that if you belief that is a good and just war (providing you believe such terms are real or true), there is nothing I can say to sway you.

Now, if you were to ask Becky, I'm sure she'd dive right into a debate on the subject.

Sorry to disappoint,

Becky is one of my coworkers. She is as irrationally rabid in supporting Kerry & Edwards as someone who considers the war in Iraq a good idea.

I wrote this reply only after thinking long and hard.

And rather than come to some superior sense of righteousness, I actually felt a sense of shame.

I am so different now. I've lost so much of myself.

Once upon a time, I would have stood up for something I believe is wrong - as I believe this war is wrong. Now, I won't. Am I afraid of being proven wrong? Am I afraid of confrontation? No. It's not that. Rather, I'm just too tired to through it. I've done it too many times before and have always found it to be fruitless. No one is enlightened. No minds are changed.

I'm just too tired.

Realizing this, I got a mental image of myself as threadbare, translucent, running on fumes.

I went to lunch yesterday and wandered. I couldn't seem to find myself wherever I was. I was like Ken looking for Ken. More and more, I realize that all the sorrow I went through never really ended but has simply taken new form. Makes sense from the perspective of modern physics, at least.

Last night, Vicky and I sat outside talking about suicide. It started off as gallows humor but, as I plowed through the many inventive ways it could be done, I could see Vicky finding less and less funny about it. So, I told her I'd never do it. I told her that part of me is gone. And she was glad to hear it.

Everyone's glad to hear it.

But here's the part, dear reader, that I've never told. Here's the surprise twist you've all been squirming in your seats for the last couple of years to hear. After all, what happens to a man who decides he wants to be dead but never kills himself? The answer is: he dies just the same.
I so often wish I had - and I know I never will - and I go through my life like a ghost of myself, with my uncontainable sadness sometimes spilling over the brim of myself. Vicky knows this. She can sense it sometimes. She wants me to talk about it - she asks me to - and then she feels grateful that I don't.

After all, what is there to say?

And what is this new form for my sorrow? What happens when someone like me finds someone like Vicky, falls in love, decides to get married?

I don't know. It's like a malaise. I'm constantly walking through a Bergman film. There's this tension down below that can never get out through the syrupy thick malaise on top.

Let's face it. There are no miracle cures. I've come a million miles from where I was a year ago and there is still more work to be done. All the same, I don't have the patience, or strength, or gall (or arrogance or whatever that undefinable trait of "Ken-ness" there is) to speak out for a belief. Thousands are dying and I cannot even say why I think it's wrong. And I am horribly ashamed of myself.

So it goes...

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