Over the last few days I've had some thoughtful conversations with a new friend who lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It's not an easy place for a progressive activist to live. It is famous for choosing to close public parks rather than pay taxes, for being the headquarters of the virulently homophobic Focus on the Family organization, for being home to the U.S. Air Force Academy.
She explained to me that, at first, she just felt totally alienated from most people she met in the town. She wasn't even sure she wanted to know the people she encountered. But over time, she learned that her conservative neighbors were sometimes decent, even smart, people who simply had had different experiences -- and that led her to re-examine, not her own progressive opinions, but how she thinks those of us on the leftish side of things need to talk with our neighbors.
In particular, she has learned to recognize and appreciate that many of those who are part of the U.S. military really do think of themselves as volunteering to serve their fellow citizens. They believe they are sacrificing themselves for us all.
That observation ran through my mind as I read New York Times columnist Bob Herbert's blast against the willingness of most citizens to ignore our ongoing Afghanistan war.
Nine years after 9/11, youngsters who were children on that terrible day are dying in Afghanistan in the service of no strategy that our leaders can explain. For what?
I feel for those Afghans who only wanted to live as they always have.