Sat Feb 08 2003 10:57AM -0600

Yeah, you would've thought that I'd write about this when it actually happened. And it might seem melodramatic when I say that the reason I didn't because it was really too much for me to handle. Too many things going on, too many thoughts roiling in my soul.

This has been an emotional charged week, and I've done my best to be numb.

I've seen a young woman in her 20s have a stroke resulting in a loss of vision. When we told her what had happened, she broke down and cried. I've had to tell a 38 year old man that what he's probably suffering from has no cure and that he won't be alive for long. All of this in the backdrop of mobilizing for an unjustified war that more likely than not will fail to achieve its objectives and yet will still kill hundreds of thousands of civilians and our own troops, a good number of them much younger than I am (and I'm not old!)

And now this, one week ago.

I've previously written about how important the exploration of space probably is for the future of humanity, particularly as to how it can lead to peace. And W is throwing it all in our faces, escalating this stupid war right in the midst of a great national tragedy. And I remember, as I made rounds in the hospital last Saturday morning, unable to concentrate on what I was doing as I watched Columbia erupt into a fireball, glimmering, glittering, then fading out, and for some reason, it makes me think metaphorically about the End of the Republic, the Great Experiment gone awry.

But life will go on, and I'm glad to see that no one has been crass enough to suggest that the space program should be suspended. I mean, sure, there is the cynical side: given the politics of the current administration of the U.S., the space program is a boon. The creation of rocketry for exploration is not at all different from the creation of rocketry for killing people. The more projects funded by the government, the richer our purveyors of both doom and hope become. (There is so much about all of this that is unsettling...)

I will never understand how such a painful illustration of the frailty of life fails to stop people from waging mass murder. Maybe, just maybe, we can romanticize to a medieval era when the waging of war was fraught with real courage and real honor, and I realize that much of it is a romanticization. But this multiple red button pushing to send conventional doom thousands of miles away, and the sending ofmen and women scarcely out of adolescence to slaughter and be slaughtered, and the killing of thousands of civilians while possibly missing the military objective is perverted. There is no honor in any of this. The people who have the most at stake are not doing the fighting.

Seriously. If W and the VP actually went out there into the desert and hung out in the trenches, a lot of my griping would stop. Otherwise, in my mind, they're the real traitors, selling out the youth of our nation, the civilians of a downtrodden nation oppressed by a dictator they helped install in the first place, and the Founding Fathers' design for an egalitarian society, just so they and their cronies can make a few billion bucks. All at the taxpayer's expense, I might add, pettily.

We really ought to be exploring our Universe rather than killing each other. But what do I know.

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