Friday, July 20, 2007

Enough To Keep You Up Nights

The Democratic senators held an all-night debate on the Iraq war this past Tuesday. The Republicans called it political theater. But maybe it's time for a little theatrics--maybe it's time to lose some sleep over the war. I propose a nation-wide all-nighter---keep the coffee shops open--hold a regular caffeine-fest and war protest all in one. Is anyone with me?

Recently, while reading a Mark Twain story, I was struck by a passage that has a disturbing resonance with events of the present day, even though the story was written over a hundred years ago. In the story, a so-called angel describes what he has observed about the human race and our proclivity towards war.

From, "The Mysterious Stranger", by Mark Twain :

"There has never been a just one--never an honorable one --on the part of the instigator of the war. I can see a million years ahead and this rule will never change in so many as half a dozen instances. The loud little handful--as usual--will shout for the war. The pulpit will--warily and cautiously--object--at first; the great big dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and dishonorable and there is no necessity for it." Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will out-shout them, and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity. Before long you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers--as earlier--but do not dare to say so. And now the whole nation--pulpit and all--will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open. Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of these conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception. "

- Simone

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