Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Muffled drum

As I sat peacefully at my desk this morning, rolling soil worms and blogreading I came across this agonizing post over at Ranger Against War.

And it occured to me what I was trying to reach for in my preceding post about war and remembrance and soldiers and our nation.

And it was simply this; "One death is tragedy, a million deaths are statistics."

We are bundled into uniforms that make us look alike, we are herded into aircraft or onto ships in anonymous masses, we go to work, or fight, or die, in the faceless, nameless, mechanized machine that is modern war. We're even zipped into identical plastic bags and shipped home - or those bits of us that are left - in identical coffins, or wrapped in identical gowns that drape over the insulted bodies and the missing limbs or twisted guts.

But then we're on our own. Or to our families, our husbands or wives. To those who love us, or try to, as time and tide ravage what war left behind.

And it occurred to me that this day, and the days like it, are part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

We just perpetuate the anonymity, with our parades and uniformed marchers and wreaths at mute stone that covers a faceless "unknown" whose very facelessness distances his suffering from those of us still suffering. In our public mass mourning we celebrate as much as mourn.

So perhaps to spend this day is beside someone; someone you know, someone you love, perhaps a stranger dying alone...who has been beaten with the iron rod of the God of War.

Or, perhaps even more important, someone whose life has been twisted by a war they were too young, or too old, to fight; a soldier's widow, a father who buried his son, a child too young to understand why daddy or mommy never came home. Among the cruellest victims of war are it's oldest, and youngest.

And to reflect that each one, every one, every single man or woman who has looked into this abyss is a tragedy. Not a statistic. And mourn them as you would they mourn you; for yourself, wounded unto death and going into the vasty Dark as we all do, alone.

And grieve.Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

W.H. Auden


Lisa said...

Very well-said. This is as we should live all days, removing the veil of anonymity and conformity to honor the individual with his sorrows and triumphs.

While we love the spectacle of the parade, it is only on the individual level that we can be known, and if not too warped, loved. That is our only hope for salvation.

rangeragainstwar said...

I feel that the parades have passed me by and are meaningless.
Thanks for your long term friendship and understanding.
I have written a further piece on Vet's day just this morn. It'll be up in a day or two.
your friend,