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The dogs of war taste blood

Some minutes before six, morning was just beginning to wash the sky colours of false dawn: soft pastel pinks, faded transparent blues, promising yellows.

Some minutes before six, morning was just beginning to wash the sky colours of false dawn: soft pastel pinks, faded transparent blues, promising yellows. Blended, reflected and dappled, the colours bled into each other and into a pointillist landscape on the surface of the lake stretching before me to the unnamed island choking the passage to the far shore. The water sparkled like frost crystals in an open field.

A lone figure in a single fishing boat passed time waiting for a strike, trolling the often lucky waters in a narrow eastern passage between the shore and the island. Loons danced across the water in their comic, manic struggle to gain flight, as graceless getting airborne as they are sleek and nimble swimming underwater. Their cries echoed and dopplered, coming from all directions at once, the distinctive crowing of the north country’s native rooster.

A bald eagle, one of a resident pair, banked lazily just off shore in front of where I sat. Shafts of light from a sun not yet above my horizon set his white head and tail feathers aglow as though lit from an internal source. He hovered momentarily, sizing up his potential breakfast, then moved on deciding it was either too small or just possibly too large.

On the other side of the continent, at more or less the exact moment that eagle was fussily mulling over his breakfast choices, a Boeing 767 careened out of the morning sun and slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Center, touching off a conflagration that’s likely to redefine whatever haphazard course humanity was charting for itself up until then.

May we choose our course wisely.

Had a friend not called to breathlessly let my Perfect Partner know what was going on in the real world, my world would have been the ultimate Fool’s Paradise. No television, a radio that hadn’t been turned on for several days, a local weekly paper already in production, I would have done some work, grabbed a fishing pole and watched the sun arc across a clear, blue Cariboo sky pretty much as I’d done the day before and the day before that.

Nothing’s the same now. How can it be? The game’s been changed, the stakes upped dramatically. The sun darkened.

Not too long after a second plane was guided into the WTC’s south tower and a third into the nerve centre of the US’ military might, people who presumably should know better were all over the airways saying, "This is war!" Most likely they’re right. The immediate problem though is not knowing with whom we are at war.

May we choose our enemies wisely.

The suspect(s) of the moment are swarthy Arabs, most notably that celebrity of the terrorist world, Osama bin Laden, a filthy rich Saudi ne’er-do-well more or less permanently ensconced in the medieval cocoon Afghanistan’s become under the Taliban. bin Laden always seems to be at the centre or lurking on the periphery of any terrorist activity with a Middle East connection these days. It was not too many weeks ago he was musing about having to slap America’s wrist again. The World Trade Center having been one of the wrists he slapped several years ago, it’s not incomprehensible he’d be a prime suspect.

But before we march off to war against him or the Taliban or Hamas or Palestinian suicide bombers or Iraq or Libya, let’s at least be cognizant of recent history. In the immediate aftermath of the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, before the smoke and dust had cleared, there was rampant speculation and indeed authorities were reportedly looking for several "swarthy Arab-types," as their prime suspects. Why not? They hate us; we hate them; they bomb things. Who else would do such a horrendous thing other than these sub-human Arabs with no regard for human life – theirs or others?

One of the most interesting aspects of that terrorist incident is how no one ever spoke about those swarthy Arab-types after a blonde, crew-cut, former Marine, all-American boy next door was arrested for lashing out against a government he deeply believed was corrupt and beyond redemption. No mention of them was made again. No apologies were made for slandering a whole race. No post mortem was conducted to review our inherent prejudices and rush to judgment. I’ve always wondered why not.

I’m willing to believe bin Laden or some other Arab group or even government was responsible for what happened Tuesday. I don’t know and as of Wednesday morning while I write, neither does anyone else except the perpetrators who are being cowardly and silent. That’s the chilling success of real terrorism – you don’t know who your enemy is.

When the US felt the sting and shame of Japanese bombs and torpedoes at Pearl Harbor, everyone knew within seconds who the enemy was. September 11 is being closely associated with December 7 as another day of infamy. But we’re not sure who to lash out at. When there is no identifiable enemy, everyone’s a potential enemy. Everyone’s suspect. Unless you jump the gun and grab the nearest and most accessible of the "usual suspects" and string him up.

Choose your rage wisely.

Does a government, having chosen a posture of relative isolationism, having repudiated international treaties to pursue its own military and economic self-interest, having removed itself as an active player in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, bear any "responsibility" for devastation brought home to its own shore? If this was an act of Arab terrorism, was it an invitation to get back into the search for a solution, not that a solution will ever be found until the last Israeli and the last Palestinian draw their last breath and cockroaches take the Middle East back for themselves? Or are these rhetorical questions?

This is a time of high emotion. Isolated as I am at a tranquil lake in a tranquil land there is a still-glowing ember of nationalism somewhere deep inside of me that wants to lash out, seek revenge, make some bastard pay and pay dearly for this. I empathize with those who actually are in a position where they are going to have to make the decisions of who will pay, when and how. I understand the rage boiling inside some of them and their softly spoken desire to turn the Middle East into a nuclear desert of glassed-over sand and empty, fallen turbans. End the conflict once and for all and if genocide is the price to pay, belly up to the bar and slap down the currency of annihilation.

The dogs of war taste blood. They strain at their leads and sense their imminent freedom. World leaders invoke the trinity of God, patriotism and revenge. Sadly enough, so do the terrorists.

Pray for wisdom.




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