I follow the international news more closely now. Talk of war looms large in the corners of power, and nations are forming alliances and making provision. As the threat grows Western European nations blissfully look the other way as they did during the previous century. As nature abhors a vacuum, man seeks power to fill it.
Speakers on public radio address how it will affect America economically with higher gas prices, reduced consumer spending and more stocks tanking. Politicians speak of how it will affect elections and which political party will gain or lose from a pro-war position.
Scholars debate just wars and whether money and increased education can solve the conflicts of man, even as humanitarians scramble to meet the needs of nations already engaged in brutal war.
As Americans we have had the luxury of homes that are not shelled by constant warfare. We have traveled roads without land mines. With rare exceptions such as the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the only atrocities we suffer in this nation come at the hands of our own citizens. The discussions we engage in are removed from personal danger, with the exception of those who have family stationed overseas; they are well aware of their peril.
But as we attend movies in record numbers that speak of the growth of the "dark side" or the "shadow growing," we know, even as we go about sending our children to school, a shadow of hatred toward us has grown and looms large over not only the Middle East but over Indonesia, the Philippines, North Africa and sites in between.
What makes them hate us? They have suffered more than we can imagine at the hands of leaders who convince them we are responsible for their pain. They have watched loved ones die. They have gone hungry, lost homes, lost jobs and been exposed to a cruelty their minds cannot erase. Their crime is that they were born somewhere other than here. They are pawns in the international game in which powerbrokers debate their future over cognac and caviar even as bombs are strapped to their children and troops level their villages.
We cannot save the world, nor does the world want our solutions. But as the shadow of war grows it is not for this nation to stand outside of it. New York and Washington, D.C., have learned this painfully.
We may not want war, but we may be forced to fight it in order to stop those who live solely to wage it. May we have the wisdom to see when that is necessary and the courage to act, even if it doesn't advance a political party, build a stronger economy or win social acceptance among other Western nations.