As part of my job, I talked to a young man today who had recently been fired. He is 26 years old. We sent him to Iraq when he was 19 years old. Yes, “we.” You and I. Everyone who lives in the United States of America sent him there. And he got broken. Ruined. He has post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury that you and I are responsible for. He did not incur those injuries defending our freedoms, or securing weapons of mass destruction, or “fighting them there so we won’t have to fight them here,” or any of the other reasons we were told that we had to send young men and women to Iraq.
We sent him to go get ruined for the biggest bunch of bullshit I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
And ruined is exactly what he is. He got fired from a job for some chickenshit reason. That was the longest employment he’d had since returning to the States in 2006. He’d worked there 17 months. He can’t remember things on a day-to-day basis. He has problems dealing with what most of us would think are simple situations. He gets very nervous when he hears sudden, loud noises. And his wife has to help him with what you and I would think are simple tasks.
We did this to him. We ruined him. We destroyed his life and the lives of those who care for him and deal with his disabilities on a daily basis.
That’s on us. We simply cannot put him back together again, because what was broken is no longer something that can be reassembled. And we did that. We let people send him, and thousands of men and women like him, to a pointless war. We did that because people thought that we needed to look strong, or that there wasn’t any appreciable difference between electoral choices, or that we just needed to teach Those People In That Part Of The World a lesson.
But we ruined that man. And his wife. And his parents. And his siblings, cousins, in-laws, and everyone else who has been personally touched by this fucking ridiculously unnecessary problem. Us. We did that. I’m not saying that he’s a hero, or a “wounded warrior,” or any other stupid platitude we use to refer to the people we ship off to fight our stupid wars.
What I am saying is that if we, as a people, hadn’t decided that there wasn’t a difference between Bush and Gore, or that we needed to “send a message to the Arab street” after 9/11, or that Saddam Hussein (a secular dictator who imprisoned and killed people we would refer to as “Islamic extremists”) was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden (an Islamic fundamentalist who thought Saddam Hussein was an affront to Islam), then this man wouldn’t be in the situation he is today. He probably wouldn’t be reviewing his investment portfolio, and he might be looking at four years upstate for a stupid felony, but that doesn’t matter–we didn’t give him those choices, because we took those options from him.
Yes, that’s right. We created a society where this bullshit outcome was not only possible for some people, but likely. And that makes me sick. I drove to work today, and I had to stop on the way home, open the door, and puke on the road. Because this shit makes me sick.
I’m sick to fucking death of dealing with the people that we have broken, or given up on, or just never even acknowledged existed in the first fucking place. Not because that work isn’t important, but because it never ends. Because we refuse to acknowledge that we are all in this together, and to see that, as the boss so eloquently says, your fate is our fate. That’s what makes me despair. And to see that we have a large percentage of the population that has decided that these people–the people who live nearby, that serve you food, or drive you places, or clean your hotel rooms, or pick your orders, or do any of a thousand other tasks that are necessary to the functioning of a society–not that they don’t matter, but that they are somehow taking shit that is yours that doesn’t belong to them–that just makes me want to go to the liquor store, buy all the whiskey that I can afford, and go outside and drink until I’m dead.
Maybe I’m just a little too drunk to make sense tonight, but that’s what I’ve got to say. Be well, everyone, and take care of your fellow people. That’s all you can do that matters worth half a shit in this world.