I’m supposed to write about television for my column. My choice, I know. Last week I only tangentially touched on TV (see 3/18 column, below); this week I started out by saying we turned off the television for something else. This is what won’t be used.
We skipped out on an hour of our favorite comedy shows earlier this week. It was Monday, to be exact, the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq.
My husband was busy with two meetings that night, so the girls and I wrapped ourselves in sweatshirts and scarves and grabbed some candles and headed down to the Porter County Courthouse to stand with others in the wind to bear witness to the day.
We made a choice, that night, to do something different than our usual. We chose to stand in the wind with candles flickering around us rather than to sit indoors with the television flickering over us.
We arrived a little late to the center of this town in which we live, but in time to hear some names read out loud and then some memories from survivors of some of the soldiers killed or wounded in the war.
When our candles kept flickering out in the wind, there was someone around to offer a flame to dip into. And then, when the Styrofoam bowls we were using to catch the wax proved ineffective at shielding the flame from the wind, a couple who joined the group after us silently offered paper Dixie cups to put over our candles.
As the readings ended, there was more to say, but we girls had places to go still, even though it was late on a school night—especially because it was late on a school night.
At the errand on the way home, two-thirds of my brood noted what I had not made clear to them earlier: that choosing to hold candles in the wind meant missing two of their favorite television shows.
“Ah, we missed it,” one said as we wandered in the drug store.
“But we were doing something that mattered,” said the other.
And I felt good about being part of something that took me out of my normal and rather banal weekday existence, something important, something that mattered.
Did our standing in the wind on a chilly not-yet-spring evening change anything? No. There are still people—including the administration running this great country of ours—who believe that this war is winnable and that, in the winning, we will have created something worthwhile.
That’s not my belief.
I believe this war was the wrong choice for this country. I don’t think we will see victory and I don’t think that lack of victory falls on the heads of any of the people who have been sent to wage it.
I also believe a small group of people standing in the wind isn’t going to change the course of this wrong-headed war or create anything that looks like victory any time real soon. And that scares me.
Those girls who missed a favorite television show to stand in the wind with me and other members of this community will be turning 18 in less than five, seven and ten years.
I don’t mind missing television. In fact, I’d choose standing in the wind to protest this war over television any day.
I just pray we aren’t gathered for the same reasons next year, or the year after.
Or in five years. Or seven. Or ten.