Us and Them

Reading through this blog is bringing up so many emotions. Political rhetoric in the U.S. has so successfully created this us/them dichotomy pitting American against the Big Bad Middle East. I don’t remember much from when I was younger, but I am old enough to remember seeing images on the news from Operation Desert Storm. I distinctly remember watching the green TV screen full of explosions, not really understanding what was going on beside the fact that we were fighting The Bad Guys.

I don’t know if it’s purposeful political rhetoric or not, but until recently I’ve pretty much seen the Middle East as one country. I’ve always known that that wasn’t the case, but I never looked into it to learn the differences. I’ve always disagreed with the war(s) but I didn’t know the differences/causes of each (frankly, I still don’t. Beyond 9/11 anyways). I’m not sure if this is a failing on the part of my schooling, the media, or if it is my own fault for not looking into things more. I suspect it’s a combination of all three.

Listening to River’s voice breaks my heart in ways I can’t explain. The media doesn’t portray people in war torn countries as people. They are the enemy. They lack faces, emotion, names. I may not know River’s real name, I don’t know the names of her friends or family, but she is me. She started writing when she was 24. I am 24. Her voice is my voice. Had we switched places I could see myself writing the same things she’s writing. It’s frightening for many reasons. I could easily have been in her place. Should anyone every decide to take America on I could easily be in a similarly war torn country. I think the part that frightens me the most is that there really is no us or them. We’re all people. We have hopes, fears, dreams, family, friends, hobbies…we enjoy the feeling of the sun on our skin or the wind in our hair.

It’s funny how someone so critical of anything the media says about women can so easily/absentmindedly buy into the lies about other countries and cultures for the benefit of those in power.

I like this video. I wish more people could see something like this and see that Iraq is more than just some country that our government hates.


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