I am. I’m terrified now. Whatever plan there is to freak me the hell out and keep me scared and docile, it’s worked. I keep listening to NPR sort of against my will because I feel that I have to understand this war as best as I can…which, frankly doesn’t seem very much…and that I have to bear witness to it, and that I have to participate somehow. I find myself getting shaky whenever I hear Bush’s voice. This is one of those times that I am so grateful not to have TV; I know I’d want to watch obsessively and that I would freak out more and more.
It’s hard to know what to believe and which media to trust. It’s hard to know if being a liberal is justified, if desperately wanting diplomacy to work is patriotic, if it’s okay to love your country but hate the actions of its various government in so many places and in so many ways. I keep wondering if the Port of Seattle is going to get hit. I keep regretting all the plane reservations I’ve made. I keep yelling at the radio in the car; “Well, of course they think there are going to be more terrorist attacks. What did you think they’d do?”
I don’t remember the last Iraq war very well. I was sixteen when it started…I was at Alaska Yogurt on the Key, when one of the girls behind the counter (I knew her from elementary school) said, “Oh my God. We’re at war!” And the next day we talked about it in history class, and someone wondered if there would be, in twenty years, a Greatest Hits of The Gulf War Era add just like those , “Well, turn it up, man!” ads. My Friend Amy’s brother had just gone into the Navy, but we didn’t think he’d actually have to go to Kuwait. He didn’t. And then it was over. I didn’t think about it much even while it was going on.
Now, of course, it’s much different. I’m happy to report that I’m a little more politically aware than I was twelve years ago, and not so happy to report that that increased awareness has really been, uh, pretty depressing. I get so angry and so scared. I pray for peace for a while and then growl about Bush and diplomacy and wonder why no one was doing anything about Iraq for the past twelve years yet all of a sudden there’s an ultimatum and whatever happened to the weapons of mass destruction? and then congratulate myself for chickening out in 2000 and actually voting for Gore instead of Nader as I had planned all along. Then I distract myself by thinking about candy or about my taxes. Then I feel sorry for myself because it’s my birthday tomorrow and what if they start a war on my birthday? Can I still go out to dinner? And then I go back to being scared and wondering when the next attacks will come, and wondering if there will even be elections in November 2004, and then I have to turn off the radio, but then I have to turn it on again.
But, of course, it’s not all about me. No one cares what I do or about my relationship to NPR. I think the only thing I can do here is to pray with all my might that it’s short. That as few lives as possible are lost. That we don’t abandon this country after we’ve conquered it, that the President makes good on his words about freedom and food and medicine. That we remember our history and that we work to change this little bit of history we’re making right now, maybe to repudiate some of the terrible things we’ve done before in the name of national security. I hope I remember how scared I feel right now and that I don’t ever take for granted the peace we do have when we have it. I hope the troops come home soon. I pray and hope all these things, but right now, honestly, “on the eve of war,” as the networks would have it, it’s so hard to believe.