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SOMETHING TO FIGHT FOR
September 4, 2004
 
We need to put Old Glory up in the morning, Q said last night. I forgot.

Yeah. I forgot, too. In the morning, I mix up some muffins and, while they are baking, go out front and hang the flag. Our bracket is broken, and so I have to hang it flat. I can never remember which way it goes when you hang it flat, where the field of stars should be, so I must trot back and forth looking at it, changing my mind a few times before I'm satisfied I've got it right.

School starts here on Tuesday. It was supposed to begin last Wednesday in the Russian school that was taken over by terrorists as the festive first day began. The story gets worse and worse as the details unfold; no food, no water, hundreds of terrified children and frantic parents and teachers. I suppose one could imagine a worse conclusion to the ordeal, but the one that actually ensued was dreadful enough: 350 dead, many more injured. A sizable cohort of the terrorist team escaped to kill another day.

Love of country. Love of family and of clan. Longing for freedom, and always the spiritual vulnerability to the siren call of violence in obtaining or protecting it. Willingness to die morphs malignantly into willingness to kill, and a misplaced admiration approves of it all, forgetting that choosing martyrdom for oneself is one thing and choosing it for someone else, quite another.

Both parties' nominating conventions are over now. The gloves will come off now, pundits say, although some political speakers have been bare-knuckled from the beginning. They admire their own pugilism, dismiss those who counsel political civility as morally weak and even traitorous.

I say be careful. Even here, where we say quickly that such things as happened in that Russian school could never happen here , forgetting how many times such things have happened here among even us. Strong opinions and passionate convictions move history, but they never absolve us from teaching the duties of compassion and the obligations that go with membership in the human family.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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