So it looks like we are days away from the first war of the 21st century. That's the title the media are giving the inevitable military action that America and its allies are about to take in Afghanistan.
It doesn't inspire confidence though does it, I mean calling it the "first" war of the 21st century has more or less resigned us to accepting that there will be other wars. That humanity will continue to feel the need to kill each other in the name of peace... It's a chilling thought.
Some three weeks have passed since the terrible events in America on September the 11th. The events of that day will go down in history as one of the foulest acts of terrorism ever. America was attacked in the most outrageous and unimaginable way. Thousands of people were killed, many had time to contemplate their final moments of life, and while those people did whatever it is people in that position do, the rest of the world watched it all unfold live of daytime TV.
I was going to write something a few days later. I wanted to catalog how I felt about the terrible events, but I couldn't. I was not able to formulate anything worth reading. One word would have summed up my feelings. Numb.
America was woken from sleep. The 'land of the free', the 'home of the brave' was more or less brought to its knees by an unseen enemy. No country or group claimed responsibility which seemed to just make it all even more horrible because who were we to be angry at? In the end we are told that it was the mastermind plan of a terrorist by the name of Osama Bin Laden. The evidence to prove this has been scarce, but even if it wasn't, would that make us feel any better that a terrorist group could pitch the most powerful nation on earth into such mayhem with such far reaching global effects?
The president started talking of war and retribution. Newspapers and TV news networks starting saying the word war over and over and over again. But this time we are at war with a small group of terrorists who are scattered across the nations of the world, seemingly able to commit the most unthinkable acts without warning. Surely Armies, guns and missiles cannot apprehend such an enemy?
For a while after the events of Sept 11th I kept having terrible dreams
of landmarks all over the United States, the UK and Australia being
hit by hijacked passenger jets. I kept seeing images of people throwing
themselves out of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New
York City because they only had the choice to either leap to their
death or wait and burn to death. I kept hearing the phone messages
of those people trapped in the burning towers who made calls to family
members and loved ones.
But three weeks have passed now. Life has returned to normal, and in a way that in itself is making me mad. How can life get back to normal? When America was attacked, freedom was attacked. Britain says it stands "shoulder to shoulder" with America and as yet we don't really know what that means.
Within what seemed like a horribly short period of time normality returned. Football matches and car races carried on as before. TV soap operas one again occupy the newspaper column along side titillating stories of who slept with who and how.
Have we forgotten already? Do we want to forget? Is it just easier to believe this happened in another country and that we are okay where we are? Are we deceiving ourselves?
So as we sit in front of the TV in our heated homes eating our hot dinners, we are told "war is inevitable". The word is no longer news. They've been saying 'war' for three weeks now. It would seem that the word itself has lost its ability to scare us.
We watch the reports of tension and military action, fleeing refugees
and the loss of civilian life. Then there is a commercial break and
we sit there and watch someone tell us that a mobile phone will free
our world. It all seems so surreal to me. Perhaps I am being alarmist,
but surely there should be more concern about this?
While the armies build up their arsenals of military hardware, the
world news networks also build up their arsenals of war equipment,
trying to get us armchair witnesses ever closer to the action in their
own battle of viewing figures. Viewing figures that are so important
in the battle to win the advertiser, who will want to know that people
are watching when they come to sell us a car, soap powder or mobile
phone that will free our world.
What will it take for us to be woken from sleep?