Mary Pitt: Why
by Mary Pitt
Cindy Sheehan, a middle-class mother from California is living in a tent beside the Prairie Chapel Road outside Crawford, burned brown by the Texas sun, devoid of her customary grooming and dress and so, apparently, shorn of any remnant of femininity save that of the mourning Madonna. She is on a holy quest, not for revenge but to hear from the lips of the man whom she holds responsible for the death of her beloved son the answer to her plainitve question, "WHY?"
We might look to our friends and neighbors and ask them a similar but opposite question, "WHY NOT?" Why do they not cry with her and for her? Why do they continue to follow, sheep-like, the man who lied to them so blatantly? Why do they parrot those same lies even after their falsity has been irrefutably proven? "Iraq was responsible for 9/11." "Saddam had weapons of mass destruction." "Saddam was a threat to us and would have attacked us sooner or later." They could set it to music and sing it in their sleep!
The fact is that the majority of the American people are still unconscionably selfish. Since there is no draft and, therefore no danger that their own families will be sent to their deaths unwillingly, they assume that those who are dying do so of their own accord! That is if they bother to think about it at all. They never see the coffins or the grieving families because, under government fiat, the media are not allowed to show them on the six o'clock news. They blame the fact that their jobs are being downsized and off-shored on the premise that, "There's a war on," and never question whether that fact is valid.
The vast majority of people are so consumed with their own wants and lives that there is no time to empathize with those around them. Recently I was asked asked why many of my friends and even my children so disagree with me politically. My response was that they are so caught up in the process of living their own lives, paying the bills, rearing the kids, and pursuing their careers that they have no time to keep themselves aware of what is happening on a larger scale and how it is impacting their neighbors. They associate only with people like themselves, and they go to church on Sunday where the preacher rails against abortion and gay marriage and tells them that George Bush is a Christian and their only bulwark against the invasion of these scandalous evils. They are totally unaware of the implications of the Patriot Act, the raids on Social Security, or the corporate takeover, not only of our country, but of the whole world and they refuse to consider it. Patriotism is limited to cheering for "our team in Iraq" and the warm, fuzzy feeling that "we're number one!" Then it's back to work and "Why is Susie so fond of that shaggy guy that looks like a drug user?" Ignorance is bliss and bliss is what they want.
These are not bad people. The responsibilities of modern-day life weigh heavily upon their shoulders and their minds as more is asked and expected from them than ever in the history of humanity. Our society is not kind to the "under class". The facade of a nice home, a good car, and well-dressed children is a shield against the criticism and scorn that would be brought upon them for the lack thereof. And that is the fault of modern-day society. People are no longer judged by their honesty but by their "success"; not by the goodness in their hearts, but by outer appearances; not by their private charity, but by their public contributions. Those who refer to life as a "rat race" are accurate. From day to day to day, wage earners are beset with so many problems that they have no time to even care what their government is doing to the citizens of the world so long as they don't raise their taxes or draft their children. And this fits precisely with the people who have seized control of our once-democratic nation. They no longer work for us, but it is we who work for them!
But Cindy, broiled to a state of medium rare, unfazed by criticism as she searches for her answer, is beginning to open their eyes and make them realize the seriousness of our situation. Casey might be, could have been, and still may be anyone's son. Any mother of a child can relate to her grief and misery as she demands to know whether her precious child died in vain. Though some who have also lost a family member in the same cause prefer to cling to the idea that the President of the United States would not lie to them and sacrifice their child in the name of oil, or empire, or financial gain, or whatever the reason really was. Without the facade of heroism in an honorable cause, they could not bear their loss! And so they must be forgiven, but there is no reason to forgive those who prefer to ignore the truth for their own selfish reasons.
If the nation is to be saved from total destruction, it will be due to the efforts of those like Cindy Sheehan, Kristin Breitweiser, and the myriad of others who, having lost family members in the World Trade Center towers or on the battlefield, have given all they had and wonder whether the gain is worth the sacrifice. They, more than any other, have the right to mount any platform that is available to them and to wake the sleeping and complacent masses with their screams of, "WHY?"