November 11th, 2005

For the day

It's armistice day, and there are a lot of posts about how bad it is and was to be a soldier.

That hell was imposed by soldiers on soldiers, but the talk is about heroism, mourning, and suffering. The bombs and the bullets are in the air, with no hint that someone was pulling the trigger.

There isn't much at any time about the civilians who had the misfortune to be living where someone else decided to have a war. Soldiers are supplied, armed, organized, and paid. None of those four are likely to be good most of the time, but think about how much worse it's likely to be if you don't have any of the them.

I bet all of us have some refugees in our ancestry as well as the soldiers we're encouraged to identify with. The refugees survived (or at least those we're descended from did), didn't cause much harm in the process, and get remarkably little notice. After all, they weren't identified with big impressive organizations and they weren't killing anyone.


There were a bunch of sidetracks that didn't fit into my previous post, but thanks to the handiness of live journal, here they are.

The Iraq war has caused the deaths of approximately two thousand American military people, a nuspecified number of civilian contractors (or at least I haven't even seen an estimate), and at least tens of thousands of Iraqis. It's been over a year since the Lancet study (a carefully done stastical survey) said that the odds were that about 100,000 Iraqis died who otherwise wouldn't have. While there have been questions (possibly unreasonable) about the study, I haven't heard anything about efforts to do a more current and perhaps sounder study.

It sounds weird, but this represents real progress--it used to take much longer for people to get horrified at a war if they got horrified at all, and wars were apt to kill more people--large multiples of more people--and go on longer. I'm grateful for the social and technological progress which is steadily making it harder to ignore the effects of war.

SF reference: The bit in Bujold's _Falling Free_ where a character is perturbed by being treated with more respect after she's killed someone.

I need to take another look at _Tolkien and the Great War_--it's got a history of how people wrote about war.

It looks as though some of the chi gung and cognitive psych I've been doing lately are paying off, though I'll see whether I think they're paying off well. That little essay was things I've been thinking for a long time, but which I haven't had the nerve to say in public. I was afraid I'd be told I wasn't grateful enough to soldiers. If people say that to me, I'll deal. The fact that they're sure of themselves and/or angry and/or quite possibly have the majority on their side doesn't mean I need to keep silent.