Woman Who Could Have Been Me
By The Plaid Adder
So, we are bombing Fallujah. But according to the US military,
this doesn't necessarily mean the cease-fire is over.
Some things just don't deserve a rebuttal.
I started an online journal on March 18, 2003, a couple
days before we began bombing Baghdad. The offensive began
on March 20 but we didn't really get the full-on "shock and
awe" until the 21st. Here's how I registered it in one of
my entries for March 21, 2003:
I'm watching live streaming video on CBS.com. At least
Dan Rather has a name for this: 'deeds of carnage.'
The footage is coming, actually, from Al Jazeera. I can
only IMAGINE the accompanying commentary.
We'll never see the bodies. We don't need to. We all
know what happens when a skyscraper collapses.
No, please don't bring in the Pentagon expert..."this
is the much advertised Shock and Awe," he says.
I *am* going to puke.
Oh my God. This is awful.
13 months and change later, we are bombing Fallujah. I am
not watching live streaming video. I've seen one still photo
of clouds of smoke rising from the city on CNN.com and that
is enough for me. I can't fucking stand it any more.
But of course I will have to stand it, won't I. I will have
to go to that meeting in an hour and pretend my job matters,
and I will have to get up tomorrow morning and go to work
again, and this renewal of the most horrific phase of the
conflict will have to recede into the background because if
I allowed myself to really feel the anger and grief that this
stirs in me then I wouldn't be able to go on with my daily
And being a human being and therefore selfish I want to go
on with my daily life, despite knowing that thousands of miles
from here my government is preventing hundreds of people from
going on with theirs.
13 months later it still strikes me, the unbearable injustice
of geography, the brutal juxtapositions of globalization.
I could have been born in Iraq 35 years ago instead of in
the US and my life would have been completely different. I'm
sitting here in a clean office with working power and a relatively
new computer typing in thoughts that have been shaped by a
Godawful number of years of higher education, with a view
of blue skies and green grass out my window.
Somewhere else, at exactly this moment, a 35 year old woman
who could have been me is watching American bombs shatter
the city she grew up in. That woman is not going to go home
tonight, as I will, and make one of the five relatively simple
dishes she knows how to cook and listen to the Cubs game while
she does the dishes and waits for her partner to call and
tell her about the first day of the conference she's attending.
That woman will be searching through the rubble for signs
of her family, or helping her neighbors carry their dead out
to one of the new makeshift cemeteries, or lying pinned where
she fell by fallen masonry. That woman does not deserve the
hell that her life is right now any more than I have ever
done anything to deserve mine.
Injustice is the currency of the global economy. This is
just how it is. I know that, but my heart refuses to understand,
and it keeps rejecting the knowledge. I get tired of having
it hit me every time like a new blow that leaves a new bruise.
But what I'm really afraid of is that I will accept
it, and stop believing that things could ever be different.
There are times when I wish I could talk to the woman who
could have been me, but is in Iraq instead. But then I don't
think we would have much to say to each other. She would only
be human if she hated me for going on with my life while hers
is on fire. And frankly what could be less useful to her now
than a chat with an American who may understand that what's
happening to her is abominable, but has not been able to do
a damn thing to stop it?
When I started the journal it was my intention to put something
in it every day. I didn't keep it up at that pace for very
long; by July of 2003 I had more or less decided that wouldn't
be practical. But I guess every spring, when the bombing begins
again, I'll go back to it, marking the days one by one, the
days that drive my country farther and farther from the rest
of the world, the days that bring love and comfort and prosperity
to me, and grief and pain to the woman whose skin I could
be standing in now, whose eyes I could be blinking as I watch
the breath of destruction fire what remains of the street
where I was born.
The Plaid Adder's demented ravings have been delighting
an equally demented online audience since 1996. More of the
same can be found at the Adder's
the Adder's Archive