Monday, September 25, 2006

What Concerns America?

Today I received an interesting e-mail from a work listserv. The e-mail referenced a recent article in Autoweek, "Back to School: Teenage Driving." In the body was an excerpt:
Since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, about 2600 American troops have been killed in combat and war-related incidents. The count is well-known and updated regularly in news reports. Did you know during the same 41-month period, more than 22,000 teenagers, ages 15-19, died in traffic accidents on U.S. roads?
- Kevin A. Wilson
I don't want to disrespect those who have died in the present war, and I don't want to say that I don't keenly feel the angst and wonder and some doubt about the military state of affairs. But Kevin Wilson has put into words what I've been feeling for a while now. Yes, the war is terrible, but there are a lot of terrible things going on in the world right now. A lot. Yet it seems like deaths in Iraq are at the top of everyone's mind. Sometimes I even think that it's looked on as cool to be against this war. At least, it's the hip thing to dislike the "Bush administration."

But sometimes I wonder whether people's energies would best be spent trying to fix things we can actually control. Whether or not you disagree with the war that's going on right now, I think it's clear that we can't just completely pull out now. There's an investment there that has to be handled very delicately. Things in Iraq are somewhat out of our control, I think.

What we can control is things like auto accidents in our country. Or drug trafficking, or prostitution, or suicide rates, or literacy efforts. Why don't people put bumper stickers on their cars that say, "Each year, there are approximately 19,000 new STD infections." Or "In 2003, 11% of all deaths among children and adolescents aged 15-19 years are from homicide." That's 1,938, folks. Why don't people get mad that in Burkina Faso, literacy rates are the lowest in the world, at only 18.2%?

To me, these are things to get mad about. These are things to do something for. Yes, 2600 deaths in Iraq is a depressing number. But 22,000 deaths from traffic accidents? That's staggering. What I want to say is, let's put things into perspective. If you really want to put an end to this war, do it. And I'll be happy if you do. But I'm tired that the argument for it is that thousands of people are dying. Yes, that's true. But it's as if -- when people say that -- that they're forgetting about other major causes of death, and then people forget about what it means to sleep with multiple partners or smoke cigarettes regularly.

I guess when it comes right down to it, I don't think that war is the worst thing that can happen in this world. I know I'm gonna get a lot of criticism for that. But it concerns me that I will get so much heat for that and not much for, say, neglecting my volunteer work.

Thing I'm thankful for: continuing education courses.

6 Comments:

Anonymous lauren said...

Hmm, I (obviously) have a lot to say about this post. It's gonna be a long comment...

I agree that there is an innumerable amount of things that need to be changed in this world. Countless. And, sure, deaths from car accidents is a big one. No doubt about it.

But regarding the Iraq war: I think most people's beef with the war is that they think all of those lives could have been saved, that those 2600 American deaths could have been avoided.

More important to me, personally, is the fact that almost 4000 Iraqi men, women, and children were killed in July alone. Many of those deaths were results of torture.

Death is inevitable. Sure, illiteracy sucks. Sure, the death of a young person, be it from a car accident, disease, etc., is devastating. But to die of torture for your religious beliefs? Yeah, I think that should be in the newspapers. I think that should be a major issue driving our society. Why should we be concerned? Because I think we pulled the rug out from under an already crumbling country.

I agree that there is no way we can pull our troops out now. I wish we could. But the anger lies in the uncertainty of this war in the first place.

Long-winded. But I warned you.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous lauren said...

P.S. And I'm a Republican.

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I was going to just say something about how the traffic deaths are under the classification of "accidents" so people don't as easily see an "enemy" as it were... not that Iraq is really an "enemy" I don't know... but yeah torture, bombs, murder basically - seem to be things that people think SHOULDN'T happen... everyone says it "accidents happen" but there are things that can be done to prevent them. They're all problems.

9:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh that was me.

~Jennifer

9:08 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Yeah, that's kind of my point -- that lives could be saved if every kid had to take driver's ed., if the licensing age was 17 or 18, if people more energy into tobacco cessation programs, etc. Many auto accidents, lung cancer, and STD's, for example, could be avoided. To me, they're not always accidents.

10:21 PM  
Anonymous lauren said...

Me, again.

I was thinking... If we're talkin' Iraq, I think it's getting more coverage in the media than, say, the rising illiteracy in Burkina Faso, because the murders in Iraq are based on a fundamental hatred. Hatred scares me more than death. And I think, after 9/11, all of us have a healthy fear of hatred.

10:41 PM  

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