Search This Blog

Friday, October 12

National Schizophrenia

Dahr Jamail writes in Iraq on My Mind- Thousands of Stories to Tell -- And No One to Listen:
The morning I receive the latest news from M, I crawl back into bed and lie staring at the ceiling, wondering what will become of H's wife and young children, if he is truly dead. Barring a miracle, I assume that will turn out to be the case.

Later, I go for a walk. It's California sunny and the air is pleasantly cool on my skin. I'm aware -- as I often am -- that I never even consider looking over my shoulder here. I'm also aware that those I pass on my walk don't know that they aren't even considering looking over their shoulders.

The American Heritage Dictionary's second definition of schizophrenia is:

  • A situation or condition that results from the coexistence of disparate or antagonistic qualities, identities, or activities: the national schizophrenia that results from carrying out an unpopular war [italics theirs].

That's what I'm experiencing -- a national schizophrenia that results from our government carrying out an unpopular war. It's what I continue to experience with never lessening sharpness two years after my last trip to Iraq. The hardest thing, in the California sun with that cool breeze on my face, is to know that two realities in two grimly linked countries coexist, and most people in my own country are barely conscious of this.

In Iraq, of course, there is nothing disparate, no disjuncture, only a constant, relentless grinding and suffering, a pervasive condition of tragic hopelessness and despair with no end in sight.

No comments: