War is hell!

A week ago Sweetie and I shlepped downtown for the 4:30 movie at the Ojai Playhouse.  I love going to the Playhouse.  Since its extensive renovation, my only complaint is that some guy usually opens the men’s room door into my back as I stand in front of the urinal.  Progress sometimes occurs in small steps.

The movie, Afghan Star, chronicled the adventures of five everyday Afghans as they competed for the title “best new singer in Afghanistan.”  Three young men and two young, vibrant women made it to the finals, having been winnowed from hundreds of sometimes comical, sometimes pathetic contestants.  A home-grown TV station sponsored the contest. Votes were cast at each stage of the competition by anyone with a cellphone and a desire to be counted.

The entire country seemed to be caught up in the excitement.  Befitting the political mess in Afghanistan, there was ample opportunity to cajole, threaten and cheat in order to make your favorite singer a winner.  People were glued to TV sets, placards were everywhere, handouts extolling your favorite singer’s virtues littered the landscape.  It was exciting, meaningful, happy.

The camera also captured the sorry state of the country, focusing on bullet holes in what once were attractive buildings, dirty street urchins making a living by recharging car batteries used to power TV sets equipped with home-made antennas and, sadly, the continuing less-than-second-class status of women.  Death seemed to be lurking around every corner.

Yet there was a certain hope that permeated the film.  A hope that things could be different, better.  Flashing back to 1980, a video of an Afghan dance hall highlighted men and women in daring western dress, swinging to rock music, smoking, drinking and looking as happy as our kids did.  Much has changed since then.

I watched and found myself thinking about the war and our part in it.  I thought back to my tirades about the war in Iraq.  How we should have never been there.  How we needed to get out now.  How our then-president had cheated us, let us down, been out of touch with reality.  How I was elated when Obama took over.  How I hoped that we’d all come home.  How it wasn’t our war.  How I hadn’t given much thought to his belief that it was Afghanistan where we were really needed.

Now it’s Obama’s turn in the box and I’m torn.  Why do we need to be there?  The place is a hell hole.  The government is run by crooks.  The country is divided among egotistical warlords.  Religion is taking its toll on human freedoms.  The Taliban are everywhere.  Money needed here at home is being pissed away without meaningful improvement in Afghan lives.  And, worst of all, our kids are being killed along with the poor, unfortunate Afghans.

But then there’s the hope, the possibility of an Afghan Star.

5 Responses to “War is hell!”

  1. 1 anne Shrage December 1, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    I and others I talk to also admit to being torn. War is not only hell, but is unproductive I tell myself. This is another Viet Nam, I think, and we will never be able to effect any changes. There has to be ways we can help these people without the killing! So many innocent people being killed every day and no end in sight.

    But–then –will the taliban take over? Will human rights be suspended? I put my faith in Obama-and he must be privy to information I don’t have, and he thinks we can change things with more troops….

    Most days I fell we should get out…but then there are the the questions……


  2. 2 Jon December 1, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Why are we there? It can’t still be the old domino theory resurfacing; it can’t be adherence to the Bush/Cheny/Rumsfeld doctrine of ‘spreading democracy;’ it can’t be because so many Americans have already died and been wounded; it can’t be because I’m in danger from an insurgency that is primarily concerned about ‘strangers’ in their homeland…

    Why? Do we need to keep bankrupting ourselves both morally and fiscally? Must we focus our strength on suppporting non-democratic governments? (we’ve been down that road too many times)



  3. 3 Maureen Celusta December 1, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    There’s a great new book out by one of my favorite authors, Jon Krakauer, titled
    “When Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman”. Having read that, I really have very little hope for any improvement in Afghanistan whether we stay or go. It’ll just cost us billions more dollars and many more wasted young Americans lives. Such a 21st century tragedy, ubfortunately probably the first of many.


  4. 4 robert December 1, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    oh you mean unlike our own government that is run by crooks,tyrants and warmongers…if the people of america don’t start focusing our attention to our own country and fight this police state were becoming we will no longer be the land of the free…i suggest watching the movie “Fall of the Republic” by alex jones…easily found on youtube…after that watch the “obama deception”…these are not conspiracy films…they are real and have the documents to back them up


  5. 5 leila December 12, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Living here I get a totally different perspective.
    If the boys came home tomorrow—–what jobs are there for them and their families????? ?????????
    So many of the folks I meet are — both husband and wife “military” . , and happy about it.
    I hear people say they want their child to go into the service because they are not collage material and there are no jobs here.
    Very irrie. strange music should be playing now.

    *********There is a movie playing on the TV stations… WAR INC.
    Love to you all.


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