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Bookends

My contribution to <a href="http://www.fray.com/">The Fray</a>'s question: "<a href="http://www.fray.com/criminal/bookends">Where have these bookends found you?</a>". A reflection over what has changed from one Gulf War to the next.
<blockquote>I was never one who embraced change.
When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1991, I was enraged. A 14 year old, it was hard enough trying to pass geography at that time without national boundaries changing on you. Watching the news, I couldn't help but feel angered that the madman of a large country would run over the people of a little country. I was from a little country too, and felt a duty to stand up for the underdog.
I was glad the coalition put together by the United Nations stepped in and ended the invasion. I'll never forgot how amazing a technological wonder those tomahawk cruise missiles were. Able to hit a mailbox from 2000 kilometers away! Even my hero Isaiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons couldn't shoot a basketball that accurately from the free-throw line. I was convinced that the United States, with its technological prowess, could somehow bomb a building, killing only the Iraqi invaders, while somehow protecting the Kuwaitis from physical harm.
Being the better informed among my contemporaries, I found it disturbing that my Muslim Indian friend took offense to my enthusiasm and admiration for the allied forces that had won such an astounding victory. The look on her face still lingers with me even today, and it is only in recent months I fully understood the helplessness and seething indignation she felt that day.</blockquote><blockquote>This new war on Iraq opened my eyes to so many things, and shattered the childhood faith I placed in the human powers that governed us all. Having been living in the United States the last three years, I now saw how fallible the lone world superpower was. What was worse was the fact I felt betrayed and lied to.
Once held in my mind as the one true paradigm of democracy and its fiercest defender, I now saw how the United States abandoned it all by working independently of the United Nations. Being a foreigner only here for the sake of education, I felt slighted and insulted by the campaigns to incite hatred for the French people. It seemed almost like the rest of us were thought of as stupid, ignorant and lacking in moral judgement.
Maybe in some way I yearn for the ignorance of youth. Times were simpler then, and the lines between right and wrong were clearly defined. The newspapers told the truth, and the stronger had a heart to serve the weaker. Now 26, I know that the world is hardly what I thought it to be. It never was.
The tomahawk could never do what the newspapers said it could. Not even close. Not then. Not now.
I was never one who embraced change. I still wear the same hairstyle I did when I was 14, and even some of the old clothes from back then. But one turn around the Chinese zodiac (12 years) and I find myself so indelibly changed, and sitting on the other side of the spectrum.
I return home to Singapore for good this summer. Disappointed and possibly a little disillusioned, but no longer ignorant.</blockquote>

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