Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Responding to an Anonymous Email/Prayer-Chain that Arrived in My Mailbox this Morning

To the sender of this email:

I truly emphasize with the pain that this "character" feels in this "story"... however there are some serious problems with the story and hopefully the author might reconsider them in the revision process.

First, why is the story related in a way that the audience is directed to assume that it is wrong for people to voice their concern about the direction their country is heading?

Second, why rehash Vietnam War criticisms and put them in the mouth of young Anti-Iraq War activists? If you are confused or uncertain about the positions of Anti-Iraq War activists I would glady help you out.

Three, why stereotype college kids as "perky". Do you mean in a fleshy or spiritual or intellectual sense? In the courses I teach my students are often not at all perky--does that mean they are "OK" and not to be feared as anti-American traitors?

Four, why the common anti-intellectual routine of demonizing those that question dogmatic positions as uncaring or unreasonable?

Five, since when did dissent become unpatriotic in our great democracy? Wasn't the right to raise one's (or a group's/community's) voice in dissent a founding cause for our democratic struggles? Are we not allowed/expected to voice our opinions in public?

Six, very interesting the genderized polarization of loudmouthed, unruly college girls and stoic, well-behaved soldier-boys ... ha, please, if anything this is the most ridiculous.

Seven, to give the story a little more power try to situate it in an actual locale, with a name, to avoid the ambiguity of "everywhere" at-all-times universality. This transcending universality robs it of any true political impact.

Eighth, might the character be strengthened somewhat if we saw a much more realistic internal struggle where she wonders about the reasons for her husband being stationed in a foreign country to fight strangers for ambiguous reasons? You may have forgotten that families of soldiers and many ex-soldiers are leading forces in the Anti-Iraq War activism. Perhaps she could demonstrate some conflict, is it really that simple?

Good luck with your revisions--don't despair I assume that this is but an early draft and with time you will develop a much more polished draft.

Go America, Rah, Rah!



Subject: freedom don't come cheap

"cause freedom don't come cheap:

I was sitting alone in one of those loud, casual steak houses that you find all over the country. You know the type--a bucket of peanuts on every table, shells littering the floor, and a bunch of perky college kids racing around with longneck beers and sizzling platters.

Taking a sip of my iced tea, I studied the crowd over the rim of my glass. My gaze lingered on a group enjoying their meal. They wore no uniform to identify their branch of service, but they were definitely "military:" clean shaven, cropped haircut, and that "squared away" look that comes with pride.

Smiling sadly, I glanced across my table to the empty seat where my husband usually sat. It had only been a few months since we sat in this very booth, talking about his upcoming deployment to the Middle East. That was when he made me promise to get a sitter for the kids, come back to this restaurant once a month and treat myself to a nice steak. In turn he would treasure the thought of me being here, thinking about him until he returned home to me.

I fingered the little Flag Pin I constantly wear and wondered where he was at this very moment. Was he safe and warm? Was his cold any better? Were my letters getting through to him? As I pondered these thoughts, high pitched female voices from the next booth broke into my thoughts.

"I don't know what Bush is thinking about. Invading Iraq. You'd think that man would learn from his old man's mistakes. Good lord. What an idiot! I can't believe he is even in office. You do know, he stole the election."

I cut into my steak and tried to ignore them, as they began an endless tirade running down our president. I thought about the last night I spent with my husband, as he prepared to deploy. He had just returned from getting his smallpox and anthrax shots. The image of him standing in our kitchen packing his gas mask still gives me chills.

Once again the women's voices invaded my thoughts. "It is all about oil, you know. Our soldiers will go in and rape and steal all the oil they can in the name of 'freedom'. Hmph! I wonder how many innocent people they'll kill without giving it a thought? It's pure greed, you know."

My chest tightened as I stared at my wedding ring. I could still see how handsome my husband looked in his "mess dress" the day he slipped it on my finger. I wondered what he was wearing now. Probably his desert uniform, affectionately dubbed "coffee stains" with a heavy bulletproof vest over it.

"You know, we should just leave Iraq alone. I don't think they are hiding any weapons. In fact, I bet it's all a big act just to increase the president's popularity. That's all it is, padding the military budget at the expense of our social security and education. And, you know what else? We're just asking for another 9-ll. I can't say when it happens again that we didn't deserve it."

Their words brought to mind the war protesters I had watched gathering outside our base. Did no one appreciate the sacrifice of brave men and women, who leave their homes and family to ensure our freedom? Do they even know what "freedom" is?

I glanced at the table where the young men were sitting, and saw their courageous faces change. They had stopped eating and looked at each other dejectedly, listening to the women talking.

"Well, I, for one, think it's just deplorable to invade Iraq, and I am certainly sick of our tax dollars going to train professional baby killers we call a military."

Professional baby killers? I thought about what a wonderful father my husband is, and of how long it would be before he would see our children again.

That's it! Indignation rose up inside me. Normally reserved, pride in my husband gave me a brassy boldness I never realized I had. Tonight one voice will answer on behalf of our military, and let her pride in our troops be known.

Sliding out of my booth, I walked around to the adjoining booth and placed my hands flat on their table. Lowering myself to eye level with them, I smilingly said, "I couldn't help overhearing your conversation.

You see, I'm sitting here trying to enjoy my dinner alone. And, do you know why? Because my husband, whom I love with all my heart, is halfway around the world defending your right to say rotten things about him."

"Yes, you have the right to your opinion, and what you think is none of my business. However, what you say in public is something else, and I will not sit by and listen to you ridicule MY country, MY president, MY husband, and all the other fine American men and women who put their lives on the line, just so you can have the "freedom" to complain. Freedom is an expensive commodity, ladies. Don't let your actions cheapen it."

I must have been louder that I meant to be, because the manager came over to inquire if everything was all right. "Yes, thank you," I replied. Then turning back to the women, I said, "Enjoy the rest of your meal."

As I returned to my booth applause broke out. I was embarrassed for making a scene, and went back to my half eaten steak. The women picked up their check and scurried away.

After finishing my meal, and while waiting for my check, the manager returned with a huge apple cobbler ala mode. "Compliments of those soldiers," he said. He also smiled and said the ladies tried to pay for my dinner, but that another couple had beaten them to it. When I asked who, the manager said they had already left, but that the gentleman was a veteran, and wanted to take care of the wife of "one of our boys."

With a lump in my throat, I gratefully turned to the soldiers and thanked them for the cobbler. Grinning from ear to ear, they came over and surrounded the booth. "We just wanted to thank you, ma'am. You know we can't get into confrontations with civilians, so we appreciate what you did."

As I drove home, for the first time since my husband's deployment, I didn't feel quite so alone. My heart was filled with the warmth of the other diners who stopped by my table, to relate how they, too! , were p roud of my husband, and would keep him in their prayers. I knew their flags would fly a little higher the next day.

Perhaps they would look for more tangible ways to show their pride in our country, and the military who protect her. And maybe, just maybe, the two women who were railing against our country, would pause for a minute to appreciate all the freedom America offers, and the price it pays to maintain it's freedom.

As for me, I have learned that one voice CAN make a difference. Maybe the next time protesters gather outside the gates of the base where I live, I will proudly stand on the opposite side with a sign of my own. It will simply say, "Thank You!"

(*Lori Kimble is a 31 year old teacher and proud military wife. A California native, Mrs. Kimble currently lives in Alabama)

To those who fought for our Nation: Freedom has a flavor the protected will never know. GOD BLESS AMERICA!

(This was included with the above email)

At 10 am yesterday morning I received a prayer request from Cathy Mitchell. Her husband, Tony, is an Air Force Commander in Afghanistan. She received an urgent email from him this morning. It said, "We need Christians to pray, pray, pray." Please pray for God's protection of our troops and HIS wisdom for their commanders. Pass this on to as many as you think will respond. "Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. I ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior."

When you receive this, please stop for a moment and say a prayer for our ground, air and navy personnel in every area of the middle east. There is nothing attached... This can be very powerful... Just send this to all the people in your address book.

Do not stop this prayer chain, please...Of all the gifts you could give to anyone in the US Military, be it Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines or National Guard, Prayer is the very best one...Amen!


Susannity! (Susanne) said...

I'd take the gift of a flak jacket over prayer any day, but perhaps that's just me. The stupidity of the statement is that it implies the Christian soldiers who have been shot or blown to pieces in this war didn't pray the right way, the right day, whatever?

The email reads like a Hollywood movie, not reality. Someone trying to frame their personal views into a touching story. sniff sniff, nope, not happening.

Good job in bringing out all the bologna in the story.

Susannity! (Susanne) said...

This statement also really bothered me:

"Their words brought to mind the war protesters I had watched gathering outside our base. Did no one appreciate the sacrifice of brave men and women, who leave their homes and family to ensure our freedom? Do they even know what "freedom" is?"

This person doesn't understand what the job of the military is and what our men and women are doing for us, and what we need to do for them in return. If Bush said the job of the military is to protect us and then decided that to protect us, all soldiers should start being sent into an incinerator to feed the Peace God, and people were standing outside a military base saying NO, that is not the answer, would she say, but honey, you need to be put into the incinerator for the Peace God so we can have freedom? Of course not, but imo, that is pretty much what she is doing.

Thivai Abhor said...

Very good point Susanne... my reply of course came in the middle of workshopping student essays, so probably why i approached it in the way I did--thanks for the extra critique!

Ricia said...

Dido, Dialogic and Susanne - I concur. ...and evidently it didn't occur to whomever wrote that nice story, that demonstrating / public protest is in fact an excercise of ones rights and liberties in a democracy... in as much as was the gals having a private converation while out for dinner. That there freedom bit she refered to does come across a mite bit narrowly defined, it does.

The "my hero" and pining wife flavour to the story absolutely reeks of 1950-something Hollywood....

memsamechnun said...

you guys are all cursed for breaking the chain letter!

it's people like you who keep the cost of oil, meat & freedom so high.

shame on you!

Susannity! (Susanne) said...

I think you're right. I ran out of milk last night and have none for my coffee this morning. I'm cursed!!!!

Thivai Abhor said...

This curse will have to get in line behind all the other curses I have incurred through meddling, shooting-my-mouth-off and just plain being in the wron place at the wrong time.

Ricia said...

I'm pretty sure I don't have to worry about curses. It has long been established that the gods entertain themselves with my being (sentient, that is). Ta-boot, I've been told numerous times (directly and indirectly) by those in the know, that I'm going to burn in hell. That about wraps things up in so far as my blessedness, luck, fate and destiny me thinks.

Susannity! (Susanne) said...

lol Ricia. I'll see you down there someday down the road. We can have mixed drinks as we tan by the fires.

Anonymous said...

well I can vouch after the years Thivai and I spent in San Diego, we will be tanning right there with you...of course since we are from sunny southern cal we will be much further along on our tan than you

Abby Normal

Thivai Abhor said...

I heard they have good benefits and great stock options, with unlimited growth potential!

memsamechnun said...

i've been *waiting* for this thread to turn back around!

" I heard they have good benefits and great stock options, with unlimited growth potential!" - says the wicked thivai.

Sounds like the false selling points of our saintly armed forcez.

given the real choice between prayer and flack jackets, i'd have to choose....prayer for myself and flack jackets for the xtian right.

Thivai Abhor said...

Well you know as an American if i am going to sell my sould i want to get the best price the market can bear!

As for the devilish meat-seeking recruiters check out this week's The Nation ...