Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Life's tragedies

Driving back from the Dallas airport this past weekend, I heard a segment on "This American Life" about an American civilian who worked in the Pentagon picking out bomb sites in Iraq and helping figure out how to hit them to reduce civilian casualties. I thought that this was an impressively humane way to wage war (which is an insane thought, but still...). The guy talked about how sitting in the Pentagon, he saw video from a drone aircraft show bombs dropped on a site where they thought Chemical Ali was hiding. The video showed body parts flying everywhere, and the Pentagon boys were thrilled. Some time later, this same man was in Iraq, standing in the crater, listening to an old Iraqi man sob over how the blast had killed 17 members of his family. This got to the American. It got to me.

Life is so tragic, and we Americans, we seem to have no comprehension of the tragic sense. Father Alexander Schmemann observed in his diaries that that seems to be characteristic of the middle-class mentality. Maybe so. (Rod Dreher)

If you're in a middle-class cocoon, poke your head out every once in a while and look for the tragedies around you. They may be half-way around the world or right next door. See what you can do to help.

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