Ira Kortum

Have you ever seen a child cry in fierce and true pain? Images come to mind of the little Vietnamese girl running naked down the street screaming and crying while the napalm on her back cooks her skin.

Everyone keeps talking about how we should go to war or how we shouldn’t, and all seem to pretty much be an expert on why they’re right.

Personally I don’t know what we should do, so I ask questions to try to figure it out. Should Saddam Hussein be removed from power? Yes, he’s a child killer – that being one of the worst atrocities that can be thought of out of all the things he’s done. Well, that was pretty simple wasn’t it?

Wait a minute, if the focus is on child killers, who else can we look at? Osama bin Laden for starters, but he’s probably already dead. Then there’s Sharon and … wait a minute, by this criteria we have to count Bush Jr. as well, don’t we?

Well, okay, how about we regulate it to just acts of terrorism? That should work, right? Unless you can say Nicaragua, soft targets like hospitals and bridges, bombing a people until they overthrow their own government, looks like we can’t use that as a guideline either. Start to see the problem?

There are a lot of people who need removal from power in this world, but how do we justify it? We cannot allow ourselves to take the superior self-righteous stance so many other Americans have been so willing to jump to. We as a people have to remember who we are and where we come from. To do that, we sometimes need to look to the past for guidance, which is what I do when I’m stuck in a situation such as this.

John Adams said, “It is more beneficial that many guilty persons should escape unpunished than one innocent person should suffer … because it is of more importance … that innocence should be protected than it is that guilt should be punished.”

At one time, as a people, we believed that even for one to suffer was too high a price to pay. Where are we now? What do we do when the removal of bad leaders doesn’t stop at other governments, but ours as well? And how can we take the moral high-ground against other governments for things our own government is just as guilty of?

If all of America could be safe from war or terrorism at the cost of only one child’s life, would it be a fair price? Would you be willing to pay that price? With a child you’ve never seen before or with one you know? Yours? How does it make you feel to know that faceless children have already died supposedly just for that very reason? Now should we go to war?

I’m not saying I have the answers. I honestly don’t know what to do. But I do know that while we can’t allow Iraq to keep its current leaders, going to war to remove them would be just as bad, if not worse, than allowing them to remain in power and turn a blind eye. Also, as a people we need to search our souls. Take control of our personal ideas and actions as well as those of our government. To think for ourselves and stop following those who can simply paint the prettiest picture or shout the loudest.

The next time you think of war, regardless if the thought makes you want to sign up at the military recruitment center or prepare to march in a protest rally, think about this: The next time you see a child, anywhere, imagine them running naked and screaming with their back on fire. Then take a good long look in the mirror and imagine, either by action or inaction, that you’re responsible. In the very least we, as a people, by said action or inaction reap the spoils of both. Now, what are you going to do about it? Well?