Gimme Shelter

Time to get serious for a moment.

An ETA (Basque Liberation Front) bomb just exploded near a building where my friend works in Madrid. To me, this is terrifying. To my office mates, it’s taken seriously, but is just another in a series of bombings that constantly pepper this country. (It seems no one was injured, as the bomb threat that was called in was taken seriously and the building was evacuated. To be fair, this seems to be the new ETA policy. To be fairer, it should also be noted that they have been responsible for 850 deaths since their inception 30 years ago.)

My own trembling hands and saucer eyes are just highlighting a fact I was just discussing with my husband last week: Americans are seriously coddled when it comes to war. Yes, we have been attacked on our soil a handful of times, but think back on the last 7 years of war with 2 countries…were there substantial blocks of time during which you kind of forgot they were happening? I’m sure there were, and that’s normal. After all, there aren’t bombs exploding every day in our markets, nor are there scores of dead civilians choking our sidewalks.

I was just discussing this last week because I had been rather blissfully ignorant of our wars as anything The Bush Doctrinebut political tools. We’re pulling out of Iraq? Finally! We’re doubling down in Afghanistan? Well, that sounds reasonable.

And then we found out my nephew got called back to service. My nephew who’s already lost hearing in one ear from a roadside bomb, who was supposed to finally set up for a “cushy” (relatively speaking) career in local law enforcement, whose mother had finally been able to breathe freely. He’s part of the double-down and, because he still wants his career in law enforcement when he gets out, he can’t claim he’s too disabled for combat duty.

So that bomb and this bomb have both sobered me up (a frightfully difficult task) for a moment and reminded me of howeasy it is to armchair quarterback terrifyingly real atrocities. I know this should go without saying, but I feel like it doesn’t nowadays. It needs to be said, and more often. We need to remind people that there are all-too-real consequences to their actions, and that one of the consequences of war is a life of mortal fear for whoever has to live where it is waged. Period.


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