TRD101: The Heart Gets Harder

One of the vagaries of the intellectual property laws is that I can quote freely, with proper attribution, from books and poems, but I cannot quote lyrics from songs without prior permission from the music publishing service. These are also the same intellectual property laws that won’t let me use my public relation pictures, which I paid for, without prior approval of the photographer. The photographer owns the rights to the likeness, even though without me paying him, he would have never have obtained the likeness. The IP laws are whacked.

If you listen to the late Warren Zevon’s album “A Quiet Normal Life” or go to this website.

you’ll understand the reference of the title.

While I followed the career of Warren Zevon and was a fan, I was not as avid a fan as many were. His death affected me a lot more than I expected. The death of Johnny Cash made me sad because of the loss of the man of decency and social conscience. The death of John Lennon affected me, but may be because of my age at that time, it didn’t have as great an impact. Warren Zevon handled his death from cancer publically, but in a very gracious and peaceful manner.

Maybe it’s due to my being of boomer age. His death was a reminder that my own can occur at any time. Maybe it was due to the way he lived his life to the fullest possible until the end. If I remember correctly, Zevon appeared on the David Letterman show shortly before his death. In watching him, I didn’t see a man who knew his time remaining was running out. Or maybe his death served as a wake up call to me that many others are dying, not as gracefully and under much less peaceful circumstances. What Warren Zevon left behind was a great body of musical work and millions of loyal fans who miss him. I hope he is resting in peace. I think he is.

But what of those who lose loved ones under much less fortunate circumstances. You’re Cindy Sheehan and you learn your son Casey has been killed in Iraq. You knew that when he reenlisted that the possibility he would be killed in action existed, but each day was one day closer to when he was going to return home. Your heart is broken, but you live with the knowledge that he was serving his country and doing what he loved.

Then you along with other parents and spouses are invited to the White House for a ceremony to honor those killed in action. The man most responsible for your son being in Iraq treats you dismissively and doesn’t credit your son properly by his name. You begin to feel your son’s life and death didn’t really mean anything to this man. Your hurt gets worse and your heart gets harder.

So you take the hurt and anger and use it to state your opposition to the Iraqi war. You try to confront the man most responsible, but he refuses to see you. You use your energies to help convince and organize others to protest this war to try to stop the killing of other boys, like Casey. You become a media cause celebre and have an international forum to state your views. You have a means to channel the hurt into ways to help others.

But what of all the other parents, relatives, husband, wives and children who don’t have access to the forums that Cindy Sheehan has? Their hurt continues gets worse and their hearts have become harder because of their loss and their seeing losses of others.

We’ve only discussed the Americans. What about the love ones in the UK or Italy or any of the other coalition forces countries? What about the love ones of the Kurd, Sunni or Shiite son or daughter? What if their love ones weren’t killed participating in military action, but being a casualty just be being in the wrong place at the wrong time? What forum do they have? Their hurts get worse and their hearts get harder as they see the losses of others. We don’t see or hear from them on TV, but their loss and pain is just as real.

Over the past 2 years, I’ve been researching two profound questions: When is conducting war legal? When is conducting war just? In the future, I’ll share what I’ve learned.

I’ve reached the conclusion that the Iraq war is neither legal or just. While the Afghan war is legal, how it has been conducted since the formal end of the military battle makes its justness increasingly questionable. I think it’s unfortunate that we’ve become inured from the daily individual tragedies that occur in both countries, so they don’t hurt us or affect our hearts the way that they should. Our hearts maybe harder, but to not let the pain of others in.

TRD101 knows this: When the shell we carry around our hearts becomes a bunker, we not only lost caring, we’ve lost a large part of our humanity as well. Warren Zevon, Casey Sheehan, and the five year old caught in the explosion of an IED have reached the same final conclusion. What differs is the number of people who remember what they’ve left behind.

And that is the Real Deal 101 for today, like it or not.

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�© Copyright Michael Maynard, TRD101, July, 2006.

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