Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Day Of Mourning

Five years ago today, the leaders of this country chose to take us to war against a country that had done us no harm. There is a shameful list of attributes we as Americans are now saddled with as a result, beginning with hubris and going through arrogance, ignorance, bad decisions, and poor planning. It needs no more mention here.

The events of this day five years ago were the final push I needed to stop being a representative of the federal government as embodied by the administration in power. The time for me to leave was approaching anyway; the decision to go became easier once it became clear that the reality I then faced was not what I had signed up for. The Peace Corps was becoming an armed camp compared to the institution of which I had been so proud for the previous 30 years. "Safety and security of the volunteer," always the top priority of the agency even in the best of times, became a fetish. At the same time, the White House ordered the Peace Corps to examine how it could enter "more Muslim countries," in complete ignorance of the fact that we were already working successfully in dozens of them and had always been. The political appointees were interested mostly in keeping their reputations intact and being able to answer to their bosses on Capitol Hill. To anyone raised on the anti-establishment, anti-bureaucratic foundations of this unique federal entity, it was a heartbreaking spectacle. But at least the Peace Corps still exists, and its independent spirit has never died. There is much optimism about the near future.

On September 11, 2001, I remember thinking, "the world changed today." Little did I know what shameful changes were in store.

If this is a downer, sorry. I'm sure the blogosphere will be full of similar sentiments. But the meaning of this day cannot be ignored.

See a classic, moving comment


Anonymous said...

I tossed around on my blog where to go with today being 5 years and very close to 4000 dead in Iraq. I wished I had copied your comments but went with the stats offered at Huffington Post. It's such a disgrace. And so is Nancy Pelosi, by the way. Those people have done nothing to stop the occupation. It's so depressing.

Ralph said...

I'd have been byond flattered, but I thought what you did was good, Z&M. Different approaches to the same subject throw their own illuminations. Sorrow, anger, frustration--they're all out there.

Ravel said...

OUCH. I appreciate your comment very much. It must have been unsettling to leave a job that change so radically, after so many years...