As a human being, not particularly the idealistic human being I am, I cannot find any justifiable reason or excuse for the deaths or maiming of children in war. Nor can I find any justifiable reason or excuse for the deaths or maiming of individuals who were once children who have nothing to do with any given war. All people, I believe, have the right to pursue life to the fullest. When politicians or military spokesmen use words like "civilian casualties," I am not at all deceived. Most people choose to be. It's less expensive and more convenient than a lobotomy. They do not wish to imagine the non-terrorist family around the table in a foreign land, eating a meal together, maybe laughing--only to have the door burst open and everyone murdered, no matter how young or how old. This sort of incident happens all the time. Americans cannot imagine the horror of it because they have never had enemy soldiers walking down their streets at dinner time, and enemy soldiers opening fire on their families around the table. Americans can also distance themselves from the death of children and innocent adults by picturing them as "cardboard cut-outs" or simply "the other," not "us." Cut-outs with no faces or names. What is so wonderful about "us" when we kill children? In Iraq, the "reported" number of civilians killed was a million. More than likely, that count was much higher. In my most idealistic self--I wish every American had to see at least one little boy, with a name, and one little girl, with a name, whom we had killed. Or, just one child we had maimed for life. I don't think we would be such an aggressive nation, perhaps. If we could imagine that children are pretty much the same everywhere, and that parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles adore their children in all cultures and all religions, we would not strafe countries, bomb whole cities. We can live in denial for the rest of our lives and go to our graves feeling justified that we have protected America from the enemy. How many Americans did Iraqis murder in America? We have gone to Iraq, Afghanistan, and now on to some other countries, where we will murder thousands and thousands more innocents. Life will never be normal or sane for these children, even if they have not been injured, they have witnessed horror, and they will never be the same. They have lost too much, too soon. Who exactly is the enemy? Anyone who can say it is okay to kill a child is the enemy. Nothing is worth the sacred life of a child. My personal vision is to drop bags of rice and to feed the children and the adults of the world. That would be much less expensive than all the war armaments and all the pain. Feeding the world could possibly bring at least much of the world together. It is in lands of hunger that tyrants usually thrive. We call the 9/11 attackers "terrorists," and, indeed, they were. They came onto our soil and killed our adults and our children. But we, in response, have destroyed their ancient civilizations, especially in Iraq; we have, in effect, wiped it from the face of the Earth. We have become the terrorists. If I had been a little girl in Bagdad, and had seen an armored American tank, I would have felt terror. What are these foreigners doing in my country? I would run, just the same, if a terrorist from another country was in my street in an armored tank. Wars keep going because of words. Semantics. "Civilians casualties" will not work with me. It insults me; worse, it is disrespectful of the dead and stuffs more cotton in the heads of Americans who do not want to face what our country is doing, has done. Some things are much worse than death. And that is living with the consequences of our wrong actions. Who, I wonder, do we think we are? Children have the right to the pursuit of happiness and to being children, to growing up, expressing their love and potential, and to having children of their own. I will not accept the words "civilian casuality." (Nor will I accept the word "warrior" now being used instead of "soldier.") Those are words of propaganda to make us feel better about the countless bodies of children along the roadsides for miles and miles and in fields, where they have been blown apart by cluster bombs, when these children could be exploring, playing, singing, imagining, painting--becoming. Those who do survive will carry on a legacy of hatred toward those who stole their families and their childhoods. I do not have the answer to the "terrorist" problem, but I know it does not lie in an image I saw at the beginning of the Iraq War: an hysterical mother running with her little girl, dressed all in pink, but with the sash undone in the back, to a medic tent. The little girl's legs were gone. No excuse. No excuse. I will not hear excuses.
Causes Bonnie Roberts Supports
The Southern Poverty Law Center, The National Resource Defense Council, The ACLU, Doctors without Borders, Save Darfur