I drove through the middle of a candle light vigil last night where throngs of people supporting an anti-war agenda stood outside of a church with signs that said "we stand with Cindy." Had I not seen some fluff piece on the Anderson Cooper show (that can only marginally be called a show,) I would have thought Cindy was a kid stuck in a well or another person in a vegetative state. This whole thing left me conflicted.
On the one hand, I'm glad there are people who feel strongly enough about the war and our warmongering President to spend their evening standing on a street corner when they could be home watching America's Next Top Kid Supermodel Hot Dog Eating Champion of Idols or whatever is on like the rest of the country. On the other hand, it pisses me off that people flock to people like Cindy Sheehan and need some sort of leader that they can point to and say "yeah, we're with her!" There have been plenty of anti-war protests in Atlanta and that's both good and bad in its own right, but these people jumping on the latest media bandwagon to hitch their support to an angry mom in Crawford, Texas... it just smacks of opportunism and a herd mentality.
The fact that this took place outside of a church and looked fairly well organized didn't escape me. Churchy people have a tendancy to rally together in groups like this whenever there's an issue that becomes a hot moral topic in the news. The biggest problem I see is that people are taking the tragedy of what's going down in Iraq and they are turning it inwards and finally rallying around the idea that AMERICANS are dying. Well, NO SHIT EINSTEIN! IT'S A FUCKING WAR ON TERROR, and you have no one but our commander in chief and his cronies to thank for that. You don't get to use the word WAR and expect no casualties. What's worse, people weren't holding candles outside of this church every day that Iraqi women mourned the loss of their kids and fathers and friends and loved ones.
There's an ethical theory that says that we apply ethical rules and moral judgements to situations based on their proximity to us (in an abstract way.) This is the theory that explains why we feel it's okay to eat turkeys, but not so okay to eat dogs because we have domesticated dogs as pets and thus they are closer to us. It works the same way I think for situations like this, where we claim to value all life but what we really mean is we value the lives of those in our family first, those we know next, those we are similar to after that, and then way on down the line, those who speak different languages and worship different gods. I'm not saying I think this ethical theory is the way to go in determining how to live, but it sure does seem to aptly describe the way most people behave. The war needs to stop, but not because an American woman lost her son, but because too many thousands of people have lost their lives needlessly. Bush said pulling out of Iraq now would be a bad move for the security of our nation. There's still no evidence to support that, and that's the bottom line.