Civil War

So here is what I am thinking right now:

When I was 8 years old, my sister and I were sitting at the kitchen table at lunch time at home. We lived a block from school and would come home occasionally and spend time with my mother who would read us another chapter of a book - anything from Danny Champion of the World, to the Narnia stories and more. It was wonderful. It brought me to other worlds and countries and perfectly written moments in time.

Sometimes we would have conversations that would range to other issues, and I think at one point the radio was on and was detailing the civil war in Lebanon - in Beirut. 1978. We didn't understand what this was about - my only understanding of war was from heroic war stories in the English comic books I regularly devoured. My mum asked us to imagine our neighbour chasing our father, and shooting at him, or dad having to chase and kill our neighbour. My sister began to cry and I just remember quietly and suddenly realizing the sheer, local and corporeal horror of war.

Just now I was watching 60 Minutes and the correspondent was interviewing family members of a Sunni and then separately of a Shi-ite family in Baghdad. One family had been caught in crossfire on Haifa street for days, a particularly traumatic time for them. Later as the correspondent interviewed them, she asked a teenage girl what a particularly violent experience she had witnessed was like for her. She lifted her eyes to begin to talk and then dropped her eyes and began to weep. Separately the correspondent asked a 50 year old father how he felt about having had so many of relatives killed - 14 of them. He lost his composure and began to weep.

Every day in the New York Times I read about more car bombings and scores of bodies and snipers in Baghdad, in other cities around Iraq - and just tune these concepts, these stories out. I can't allow myself to connect with each event - who could?

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