Wednesday, October 22, 2003
WHEN ONE MAN DIES
"I hoped that the pilot who hit our house would be burned as I am burned and my family were burned."
--Iraq war orphan, Ali Ismail Abbas, 13 years old
"The quality of mercy is not strained; it droppeth
As the gentle rain from heaven upon the place
Beneath. It is twice blessed - It blesseth him
That gives and him that takes."
-- William Shakespeare
The Merchant of Venice
"Now this bell tolling softly for another, says to me, Thou must die. Perchance he for whom this bell tolls--may be so ill
that he knows not it tolls for him"..."all mankind is of one author--and is one volume;... when one man dies, one chapter
is not torn from the book, but translated into a better language."
"The bell that rings a sermon calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come, so this bell calls us all."
"There was a contention--as far as--which of the religious orders should ring to prayers first in the morning,
and it was determined that they should ring first that rose earliest. If we understand aright the dignity of this bell
that tolls for our evening prayer, we would be glad to make it ours by rising early, in that application; that it might be ours
as well as his whose indeed it is. The bell doth toll for him who thinks it doth. Who casts not up his eye
to the sun when it rises? but who takes off his eye from a comet when that breaks out?
Who bends not his ear to any bell which upon any occasion rings? but who can remove it from that bell which is passing
a piece of himself out of this world? No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe would be the less,
as if promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or thy own were. Any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
-- John Donne
From Meditation XVII, 1624
This Iraq War will continue to make Americans feel that they are not respected. The same goes for the Occupation, which is aimed at enriching those who are already privileged. This war will test our capacity to ignore the dead.
And who are these invisible wounded?
Why is it not surprising that the George W. Bush Administration has banned all images of flag-draped coffins? Why are we not inside hospital wards?- acknowledging the sacrifice?- investigating low morale among American soldiers in Iraq? Why is there no serious accounting of Iraqi casualties?
One man dies, and then another.