A bomb went off in Iraq today.
I can say this with a degree of certainty, because bombs go off every day in Iraq. Sure, I don't have a source or a reference for this, but I'm sure if you google it, or look for a military report you'll find that indeed, a bomb did go off today. Someone died, someone got shot, a family was torn apart, a soldier was lost from one side but I don't know which.
And what was I worried about?
My recliner was broken. So I measured the broken piece of wood, cut a new piece, drilled holes. I test fitted it, and then added a layer of padding which I taped in place. I bolted the piece in place, and it fit really well. But this didn't solve the problem; the chair was still tilted off to one side. After careful examination I divined that one side was lower than the other. To counteract this I shimmed up one side of the base with small pieces of wood, which I taped in place. It works well; it's not perfect, but it's a lot better than it was. This is what I did with my day.
Somewhere in Iraq today a bomb went off. We hear that kind of flat statistical report every day since the war started. Sure, there were more pictures at the start. We saw shots of bombs falling from planes, shots of fine American boys shooting at some enemy off screen. It was like a movie. But we didn't see the aftermath of those bombs, and whom do you think they were shooting at?
They were shooting at Iraqi men, and fine Iraqi boys who took up arms to fight a foreign invader. Bus explosion, suicide bomb, raid, terrorist, northern Basra, Baghdad, Tikrit, weapons of mass destruction: we all learned these words and we know what they mean. We hear death counts, body counts, numbers this, statistics that, but it's all completely abstract. None of it is tangible to our lives.
When a bomb goes off it does a number of things. When the blast goes off initially, depending on the type of bomb, it sends out a shockwave. This shockwave can damage hearing, knock people down, send debris flying, and that's before shrapnel gets to you. Then after the shockwave the bomb casing, or car parts, or whatever other nasty pieces of metal surround it go out. This is still an abstract discussion. These pieces of metal hit people and those people are injured or killed. That's the news line, and in many ways the Hollywood line, the movies tell us that Bang, a bomb goes off, people sustain injuries and they die, or spend some time in hospital. Abstract, abstract, abstract.
What many people don't seem to be able to connect in their own minds is the impact that fragments or bullets have on the human body. It doesn't just zip through, it grabs and wrenches meat from bones, it splinters bone like a cheap pen under a hard soled boot. It's visceral and it's physical, it's the dispersal of the kinetic energy of a fast moving piece of metal into a soft fleshy target - a target with a name,a mother, a father, possibly children, a family and an opinion. A person died because another person killed them, or set up a situation that would cause massive damage to your vital systems which in turn causes death. Somebody's head completely ripped off by a chunk of what used to be the passenger side door of a Toyota pick up truck. Skin sliced by slivers of glass when an explosion blows out a window 10 feet from a market stall, where people are trying to rush around and buy things they need to survive, and get back inside, because… hey… there's a war on and there might be bombs and bullets.
People go to war for dozens of different reasons, and honestly I don't care what those reasons are. People write articles about Iraq for dozens of reasons too. Anti-war, pro-war, ambiguous articles, articles discussing statistics, some articles discussing human tragedies and how families are taken apart piece by piece as member after member dies, either at American hands or militia hands.
It's been 5 years since Iraq was invaded. My recliner is only 2 years old, and it still needed fixing. People (let me stress this) PEOPLE die every day in Iraq because there is a war in their country that wasn't there 5 years ago. I'm not here to argue rights and wrongs, but one thing that is wrong about this war is that it is killing innocent people. People, women, men, children, that could be walking around today living life, breathing air, drinking water, playing games, tending crops, making the wheels of industry turn….
But they can't. They're dead. They were killed.
Maybe one person will read this article and think to him or herself, maybe in some small way I can change the situation. The sound of a bomb can travel for miles over land, maybe it can travel further than we think. On this clear cold night, I could almost swear I heard a distant echo of an IED, or a roadside bomb, or a suicide bomber in Iraq.
…A bomb went off in Iraq today.