It could be we haven’t been hit hard enough – or it could be we don’t have sufficient spunk. But, well, I think (hope) we do; the Aussies and the Afghanis, in this case, they lead and we follow.
Tonight my 15-year-old wanted to see Mrs. Miniver at the Bush school. (We in the provinces have simple pleasures – free old movies once a month.) This was planned a year ago, but the timing seemed, well, right. Somehow, I had never seen it (though I had loved Since You Went Away, constantly reshown on television in my youth). As it slowly moved to that inevitable Vicar’s speech, I was struck by how easy this “war” is on us. Nonetheless, listening to his speech, I also realized the similarity – this war is even more one of the home front. The German soldier’s delight in the quantity of people killed, in the blood running from women and children – ah, we know that look, that obsession – uniformed and blonde in the movie, now dark and cloaked – yes, we know that face quite well, even if our lives remain comfortable. The vicar says “this is not only a war of soldiers in uniform. It is a war of the people”; we remember the towers and the planes and Bali. Yes, few of us have been affected, but it has been “a war of the people.”
Bush believes that by making it a war of our army, our gunslingers at high noon, our families (and especially our children) are less likely to suffer “from the tyranny and terror that threaten to strike us down.” And what I want for my children is that stride through life that comes from living in a transparent society, a safe society. This is the stride of that young Afghani woman voting. (And, yes, this is not a “done deal”; of course, it is going to take election after election to make that stride as confident as it needs to be.)
Meanwhile, a terror alert for that library had been sent out yesterday. I said, ah, but this audience, mostly people over seventy, is surely not a terrorist target. The auditorium was packed and, of course, there were no police, no problems. But was that confidence in our unimportance misplaced? Surely, dancers in a Bali nightclub were not much more important (nor unimportant) than the pensioners that sat around us.