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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Comfortably Numb: The Great Malaise 

THE JAZZMAN CHRONICLES – DISSEMINATE FREELY.

By Jack Random


Another 19 dead, another young idealistic journalist held captive, another message from the world’s leading terrorist, another equivocation from a Senator campaigning for president, another cliché from the White House, and the distinct feeling that no one is listening, no one is watching, no one is feeling what is happening on the ground in the land of ancient wonders.

Have we become comfortably numb?

We must remember Marla Ruzicka, the young care worker gunned down on the road to the Baghdad airport. Remember how we felt when our emotions were still intact. There have been others, many others – journalists, care workers, observers, contractors – but there is something especially disturbing about the young and gifted. These are individuals with so much honest compassion that they risked the rest of their lives and all the promise, hope and dreams a full life entails.

There is no rational reason we should feel more deeply for Jill Carroll and Marla Ruzicka than we do for so many others, for literally thousands of young and idealistic Iraqis or coalition soldiers. There is no rational reason that one particular life should tear at our hearts so profoundly that we turn away and refuse to look back.

Some will find absurd reasons to dismiss the tragedy: She knew what she was getting into. Go to Baghdad, what do you expect? Walk into the lion’s den and you can’t be surprised when you don’t walk out.

Such rationalizations contribute to our malaise. With every employment, they make us less human, less admirable, less virtuous and less likely to stand up in outrage against a criminally insane war.

Another soldier back from Iraq committed suicide the other day. His name was Douglas Barber. He appeared on Doug Basham’s radio show out of Las Vegas. He served in Iraq on a supply convoy between the Baghdad airport and the American military base in Balad. Upon his return, he joined Iraq Veterans Against the War.

The police rushed to his home, sirens blaring and ambulance lights splashing memories of wartime bloodshed on a crowd of onlookers, but the national media were not there. To my knowledge, it was never mentioned on CNN, MSNBC, Fox or the networks. Apparently, it did not have the appeal of a coal mining disaster, a demolition or a high-speed chase. Douglas Barber was just another soldier, another untold casualty of war.

Have we become comfortably numb?

A friend of mine hypothesizes that those jets we so frequently see laying out trails in the morning and evening skies are actually seeding the air we breathe with a drug that breeds malaise.

Maybe he’s right.

Does anybody care?

Is anybody out there?

Jazz.

JACK RANDOM IS THE AUTHOR OF THE JAZZMAN CHRONICLES (CROW DOG PRESS) AND GHOST DANCE INSURRECTION (DRY BONES PRESS). THE CHRONICLES HAVE APPEARED ON DISSIDENT VOICE, THE ALBION MONITOR, BUZZLE, COUNTERPUNCH AND PEACE-EARTH-JUSTICE.

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