I began reading Ben Stein's book The Real Stars last night, after finishing the fifth book in a seven-book series, The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency. Not military-related, but the series is a great read and I highly recommend it.
Mr. Stein had me at the dedication:
For every man and woman who wears the uniform and risks life itself for freedom and for every member of their families. Words are not enough. We owe them everything.
In the foreword, I read this:
The people buying Bentleys in Beverly Hills don't know the military wives who will never see their husbands again or feel their touch. If you ask the wealthy about the men in battle dress uniforms, they act embarrassed. The subject quickly changes. It's mortifying to be so god**mned selfish when other people are dying for you. It's like being caught naked with the maid in the laundry room: It's not supposed to be brought up.
But it has to be brought up.
Which made me think of the war in a larger sense. Not one that is simply confined to how wealthy people feel (I'm not anti-wealthy, I'd like a little wealth myself - heh). Not one that is simply confined to how those of us in the fight feel. Last night, I wondered. I wondered why the subject of war, the service of our spouses and the families left at home is an uncomfortable subject for so many? Because I believe that it is. But why is this so?
Of course, the answer will vary from person to person, I fully understand this. I also understand that some people view the war through a political lens only, which is short-sighted and does a huge disservice to the military community.
I'm not someone who thinks if we all join hands and sing a happy song, life would be perfect. That's not the way the world works. It never will work that way, which is, after all, why we have a military in the first place. But, I'll freely admit that there are times, rightly or wrongly, when I get a bit ticked off that the war is so front-and-center to us yet the overwhelming majority of our citizens don't know who Paul Ray Smith is, or why he's important. I don't live in a perpetual state of outrage over this, I rarely even think about it until something triggers this thought. Mostly, I just go about living the only life I know how to live, thankful that my husband serves so that others may do the same. I don't wish everyone could live this life. I don't. Not everyone could hack it, quite frankly. And, our spouses volunteered to serve. It's a choice. But, I do not like the collective apathy that I feel surrounds this war when I allow myself to think about it. It's one reason SpouseBUZZ is so comforting to me. I am surrounded by people here who actually "get it."
Probably a bad idea to publish a post before I allow myself some time to reasonably process my thoughts on the subject. I'm not entirely sure why I'm hung up on this, but I am. It's been bugging me all day. Mostly because I know it's true. Although Ben Stein's focus, so far anyway (I've only read a few pages), is on the elite, I believe this attitude extends beyond New York and Hollywood. It's everywhere. It's not an easy subject to think about or to talk about or to write about, but should it really be so taboo?
Stein goes on:
Part of this is the way it's always been, of course. Some die that others may live. But what's new, and what's so insane, is that instead of a nation united behind these men and women in combat, solid like a rock behind their families, we pretend they don't exist. We pretend that the wars aren't happening and that what's real is what's in People. This is just not right. It's insulting to the men and women who offer up their lives for less than a Hollywood producer spends on tickets for parking in handicapped zones.
There are a number of factors to ponder here. I realize there's not a simple, one-size-fits-all explanation. And I would like to point out that I've seen private citizens with no affiliation whatsoever with the military show their support in wonderful ways. Having said that, I can't get this subject out of my head today. How can we, as a military community, come together with those who are untouched by war, or those who are uninterested in this war, and open a dialogue? Furthermore, do we even want to? Do we resign ourselves to the fact that they will never fully understand, which they won't, and just throw up our hands? Do they simply "pretend [we] don't exist" and throw up their hands?
Something to ponder.