Saturday, March 22, 2003

it's 5am, and i can't sleep anymore. - have been up for almost an hour.

i fell asleep last night while the tv was on, turned it off at some point but kept waking up from dreams that were full of fear. no, not war dreams, just dreams full of strange threatening situations, me and evan in homes that weren't ours, being pursued by people who scared me. i can't pity myself for being up though. how could i dare to do that when 2 time zones away, people endured, heard, smelled, felt what i only saw on the telly?

i've given up sleep for now, the tv is on again, and they are showing the sky over baghdad, where it's already day, and for now, there are no explosions visible - but then, the journalists seem to think the next bombings will come soon and possibly last all day.

heather wrote eloquently about what she's feeling today, and indeed, like her, i wonder (but can not express that well, that's what i struggled with last night, i guess) how seeing those bombs fall on baghdad last night can be any less traumatic than seeing planes fly into the world trade center, or israeli attacks on palestinian refugee camps or the bombing campaigns in vietnam, or -for me- seeing pictures of a burned down dresden.
heather wrote, after expressing she believes that all humans are capable of compassion and kidness:
"what I don't understand is how anyone -- and i'm talking regular folks, world leaders and politicians should be more accountable and caring, but flatly, they often are not, and usually act primarily in their own self-interest and to win nationwide popularity contests -- can set that compassion aside, or simply not feel it."

and that's exactly what i was trying to say.

yesterday, strolling through my city around noon, on a glorious, blue-skied first day of spring out on the market, i felt how privileged i am.
this will sound pathetic, but i walked along the market and shopped for plants for my balcony, and some fruit, chatted to the vendors and while doing that felt so privileged i am to be able to do as i please on a friday, priviledged that there were stalls full of good stuff for me to look at and pick, to live in a democracy, choose a religious belief and whether to live it, to have an abundance of media to look at and evaluate, to have education, relative equality, access to health care and above all safety.
knowing that two time zones away, there are people who have not known this safety, is beyond my grasp.

last night, when i saw the pictures of the "shock and awe" attack (i actually checked the dictionary again, to be sure "awe" means what i thought it did, i wondered whether i had overreacted at first because i misunderstood, but alas, i didn't), i called my mom.
i had just come back from a dinner with a mate from australia who is studying here for two sememsters, and had had two hours of pleasurable chatting about afl and the finer points of german literature. - what a change to suddenly see these pictures, i needed some immediate contact with someone, i was literally sick to my stomach.

i talked to my dad, too, who saw the images on the tv, too, but kept asking whether i thought a dictator like saddam "could be prayed away". he saw some demonstrations and a vigil in hometown yesterday, and was very cynic about the people who were there (most of the "old 68er", people who were involved in the student protests of the late 60's, who my father detests with a passion), and i had a hard time -being as upset as i was- talking to him about it, and why i believed it was still good to be out there doing whatever one deemed helpful, be it praying of whatever kind, having a happening (apparently, a sign saying "baghdad, 3600km" was put up in a central place of hometown, surrounded by crosses) or a demonstration.

i was trying to convince myself as much as him, when i was arguing my case for protest. i am still not sure whether i believe it will make a difference that i (and hopefully thousands of other people) will head out in the late morning: first to a multi-religious peace prayer (chanting shanti om to myself, i guess), then to our demonstration.

my cynicism and detachement from protest and activism (which dieter noticed on on thursday), while i feel so strongly when seeing these images, yet lack the words, still puzzles me.

i guess it's because this is more complex than many seem to realise, and i can not stand behind one sided-ness that fails to recognises that. i feel strongly about saddam being evil (a suppresor to both the majorit in his country, and the kurds), that iraq will hopefully be better without him, yet do not believe this war, these tackily-named attacks are the right way to deal with him or the right way to bring democracy to his people, that a part of me can not stand behind some of the simplified chants people will chant, the overly simplistic imagery that will be depicted in speeches, and the oh-so-hip-anti-americanism that might shine through, too.
i cringed, on thursday, about references made by a speaker about the international criminal court and about our german constitution, that were simply wrong, about a peace song spontaenously sung by someone, that was simply horrible. it's just that the short-sightedness, the lack of real information, the prevalence of slogans and propaganda of some of these activists is unbelievable - you know, those who cuddle with israeli politics, while failing to give one second of a thought to palestine and whether israeli settling policy (which is robbing people of the land they have worked and lived on for hundreds of years) might have a tiny thing to do with people walking on buses with explosives round their bellies. interestingly enough, it's often devout christians, who so conveniently fail to feel compassion for palestinian christians.
thankfully, apart from those references to international and constitutional law on thursday, expressions of the short/one-sided/wrong kind have been limited in regards to iraq at the demonstrations here yet, but who knows what has been written in kitchens around freiburg to be said today.

no matter what, it will be interesting, and at the least, i will hopefully walk home with a feeling of comunity afterwards and a bit less cynic, knowing i am part of the dissenting majority.

waferbaby: brainstorm: does protesting work?