25 March, 2008

Bodies of War

4,000 U.S. soldiers and counting, and five years in, the Iraq war is still going strong. Last spring I was inspired by Kurt Vonnegut to write about the conflict that should be affecting our entire country, and this year by another veteran, 25 year old Tomas Young who was paralyzed by a bullet in Iraq. The new documentary Body of War and the soundtrack of the same name, revolve around Tomas Young, a man who didn't question the validity of this war, until he felt the consequences.

I am eighteen years old, and I have many friends and relatives who would be certain candidates if the draft were reinstated. I also know quite a few boys with nihilistic tendencies, a deep need to prove themselves, and a fairly normal interest in violence who might sign up on a whim and a false sense of duty. Even though I personally would not join the armed services, I can see where Tomas Young was coming from, and as a thoughtful human being, he's now struggling with where he's going, and really where the whole country is going.

There's a human element missing from this war, and there has been since the beginning. On one side, our soldiers are being trained to see the Iraqi people and terrorists as less than human. It's difficult to kill someone who's real, but a stereotype is easy to kill. At home we grow our own brand of inhumanity. We don't see the caskets or hear the body-counts regularly. Tomas Young isn't sitting at most people's kitchen tables, reminding them that real, living, breathing people are being hurt in Iraq. By showing the human element of the Iraq war, Body of War is doing an invaluable service to the American people and to the world.

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