Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

When words don't mean much

Death, language, Politics

 Liz and I were watching the news. The story was about preemptive reduction of cruising in the streets of Milwaukee--stopping it before anything bad actually happens. A police officer intoned seriously into the off-screen microphone, "The problem with cruising is that it leads to stopping."

We looked at each other and burst out laughing. That's sort of like saying, "The problem with life is that it leads to death." It's true, I guess, but what can you do with a comment like that?

 Speaking of death, an Associated Press story being widely disseminated is Soldier son of Dutch defense chief killed (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel headline). Lieutenant Dennis van Uhm was the victim of a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. Dutch prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende characterized this loss as "an unprecedented tragedy."

Well, no. It's a very "precedented" tragedy. Van Uhm is the 16th soldier from the Netherlands to die there. Nearly 500 American soldiers have died in Afghanistan, and the death toll for soldiers from the West there is nearly 800--and continuing to rise. In Iraq, 4,000 US soldier deaths have preceded the next one. And the one after that. In war, tragedy is the coin of the realm.

Since my mother's death a couple weeks ago, I've had a harder time than usual listening to pious rhetoric and words that sound like they mean more than they do. Maybe if I'd lost a soldier son, I'd feel differently about the inflated language used to turn a personal loss into a political lever. I'm glad not to know the truth that would come from that experience.


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