Random thoughts on a late Friday evening…..
When the US and its coalition allies went into Kuwait in 1991, I did not sleep for nearly three days. Instead, I spent my time at the newspaper I worked for preparing our editorial coverage and making preparatory plans. Since San Diego, California is a military town there were many angles to plan and develop. On the day prior and throughout the night I was on the phone with the publisher at least 20 times regarding his demands for the front-page on an almost letter for letter basis. He was running, (micro-managing is putting it mildly) the show, as he often did, from upstate New York.
A staff of fine reporters was assigned to various beats, national, community response, military family news, how to contact the military about your family member, columns, cartoon and so on. These people were the eyes and ears of the community along with the local radio and television stations, and once the war began we were there almost around the clock. There are many stories to tell of those times.
As I write tonight, I am in a different role in the newspaper business. I am no longer solely responsible for the editorial coverage. In fact, I am responsible for none of it, and that’s just fine with me. No longer am I interrupted at church by a reader suggesting my paper does a story on his third-removed cousin who can make farting noises with his armpits. No longer am I recognized on the street while having a date with my wife. No longer do I get phone calls from readers with little else to do but threaten to take my paper to the Supreme Court for some opinion it expressed on the editorial page.
While it surely was fun to be the top guy in the newsroom, the one thing that connects all true newspaperman is the curiosity and need to know the news at all times. Not obsession, mind you, just the need to be up on the latest. In the Gulf War, there was no internet as we know it today. There were no bloggers. 24/7 television news was in it’s development and there was little digital technology like you see today on CNN’s coverage. It is truly a different time. It’s now possible for anyone to tune in and out as they choose and get it all to digest. But remember, on television, you’re only getting slices of the pie at a time.
One thing is the same, and it’s happening again to me. People want to know where I stand on this war, and expect me to have a solid answer since I’m “in the biz.” I get emails suggesting that I need to take a stance on my blog for it to be relevant. Protestors take my desire not to debate as a pro-war stance, rah-rah’s blinded by the cool television images and a false sense that all this is happening as if on a computer game screen interpret my fears and sensitivities as an anti-Bush/War stance as if the two are exactly intertwined.
And yet, what I mostly feel is grey. Not black, not white. What I, or anyone, really feels is something that is ours alone — of our experiences and soul. To blog just to take A stance is no different than the editorial writer who does not believe in the position his publisher has forced him/her to put in the paper. Any writer worth their salt can make a formative opinion piece on any side of any issue. And so can observers of this war. But to blog to express YOURSELF is sublime.
Do not look for the Vinman to spend his blogging time trying to convince you this war is just or unjust. Do not look for me to try to persuade you away from your opinion to mine. And do not ask me to defend my thoughts…they are mine and do not need defending, just as yours are yours and require no explanation to me. And in this can be found the true beauty in simplicity and complexity of the shaping of the human mind and expression.
Yes, I have them, these opinions. But then again, who am I, or you, to know the reality of what is happening in Iraq or at Camp Davis this weekend. One thing I do know is that no matter what you see on television this weekend, it will change by the hour. Go to bed and Baghdad looks like it is being obliterated. Wake up and find it was only military targets that were hit and Iraqi troops are surrendering all over the place. Go to bed again and wake up to find, no these were not just military targets hit yesterday (oh, by the way, these bombs aren’t completely smart after all) and that the surrendered troops were booby trapped. Sadaam’s dead, no he’s alive.
Even when it’s over we may not know all of the truth. We know far more these days than ever and we know it faster. But we will never know the whole “truth.” And at that point, my faithful readers who have stuck with this post this far, that is where faith must come in. Not faith in Bush or your government but the faith that this is all part of plan by One bigger than any human or group of humans. If God is truly in control, than one must take that believe to its ultimate and believe that He is in control of even this. There have been many wars before, there will be others.
And we will wander through our short time on this speck of a location together asking questions, seeking the truth, trying to satisfy our human needs doing our work and trying to make things better for others — whatever that entails. Remember that all you watch and see and feel is part of the spinning of this globe, so big and important to us while we’re here, but minute and as a speck in the scheme of time and dimension.
An all of this is not to render the importance and horror of war irrelevant, but to magnify the value of you, your thoughts, your opinions, your experience and your inner-soul no matter what you believe, think or aspire to. And the Vinman values sharing time, space and creativity with you more than he does debating and invalidating your thoughts and experiences. That is the gold on this Earth, short as our time may be.