Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Warning: This Post Will Make You Sick

My family was attacked by norovirus last week.  Whoever said humans are at the top of the food chain has yet to have these viral predators invade their body.  Norovirus kills over 800 individuals in our species each year.  I felt like one of them.

Image Source: Wikipedia

I'm the kind of person who only prays when I mean it.  I'm fine with an occasional "Thank God!" for what life ordinarily throws at me, but I don't like to pray for things too much because it feels greedy.  As one of seven billion homo sapiens on this planet, I like to hold the door open for other people's prayers to reach God while my paltry needs wait their turn.  I like to store up my plea-prayers for times of utter desperation.  Like when hot lava is shooting out of the gastrointestinal orifices at both ends of my body.

"Please, God!  Make it stop!" I cried out, unashamed.

Sickness erases shame.  It humbles us.  It brings us closer to an awareness that while we're alive we are constantly on the brink of death.  It forces us to realize that no matter what kind of hot shits we are during times of good health, at any given moment microscopic beings can take control of our bodies and make us beg for mercy.

I've heard of praying to the porcelain gods after a night of hard drinking.  Those prayers sound something like this:

"Please God, make it stop!  I promise I'll never drink again if You just please, please, please make it stop!"

Porcelain god pray-ers are fucking liars.  They want God to make them feel better, but once they do, they go back to feeling like shit about their lives, which leads to more drinking in attempts to feel better again.  I don't pity self-inflicted porcelain god pray-ers.

I do, however, have the utmost sympathy for porcelain god pray-ers who arrived at their state through no fault of their own.  Collateral damage due to a vicious viral enemy combatant.  Victims of norovirus have a free pass in the plea-prayer department.  Anyone who suffers through that kind of personal attack and doesn't cry out for help from some kind of Supreme Power makes Sam Harris look like a believer.  

The little buggers got to Katie first.  I knew something was up when she refused to eat breakfast or lunch and then asked to take a nap.  I'm always down for a nap, so I slept peacefully next to her until I was awoken by the command, "Get a bowl!" followed by the feeling of hot, sticky vomitus oozing under the covers and settling in my lap before I'd made it out of bed in time.

From what I've read this is one of the most contagious viruses out there, so I probably would have gotten sick even if I hadn't had such direct contact with the nastiness.  Two days later Katie was feeling better and up getting ready for school.  She asked me to scramble her an egg for breakfast.  I have a wussy stomach that's prone to first-thing-in-the-morning irritability, but even I can usually manage to scramble the kid an egg.  This time no.  I couldn't stomach it.  She had to settle for a pre-packaged apple cereal bar while I puked in the kitchen sink.

Two days later Will came down with it.  He's younger and has a super immune system, so he was only sick for a day.

It's been six days for me.  It's a Sartre-esque case of nausea and not a medical one now, though.  I'm over the bug, but still nauseous.  It has more to do with the awful news that's been churning inside my head ever since I saw this data compiled by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, rather than from any bugs churning inside my stomach:

CIA Drone Strikes in Pakistan 2004–2013:
Total reported killed: 2,629-3,461
Civilians reported killed: 475-891
Children reported killed: 176

US Covert Action in Yemen 2002–2013:
Total reported killed (all): 374-1,112
Total civilians killed (all): 72-178
Children killed (all): 27-37

US Covert Action in Somalia 2007–2013:
Total reported killed: 58-170
Civilians reported killed: 11-57
Children reported killed: 1-3

I'm so sick of war.  We cannot fight a war on terror by becoming terrorists ourselves.  We must cry out for help to make it stop.

"Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other." -- James Madison

"War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong; and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses." -- Thomas Jefferson

"How far can you go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without?" -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

"The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them." -- George Orwell

"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?" -- The Mahatma Gandhi

"All forms of violence, especially war, are totally unacceptable as means to settle disputes between and among nations, groups and persons." -- The Dalai Lama

"We have guided missiles and misguided men." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

"I'm tired of old men dreaming up wars for young men to fight.  If he wants to use American ground troops in Cambodia, let him lead the charge himself." -- George McGovern, an anti-war hero who lost big time in a presidential election a long time ago to a Quaker named Richard Nixon.  I thought Quakers were anti-war?

But what do I know?  I'm the kind of mom who lets her kid go off to school in Kansas on January 29th wearing shorts because it was nearly 70 degrees when she left this morning.  I just got back from dropping off a pair of long pants for Katie at school.  She lives an idyllic life in the suburbs and her mommy brings her warm pants when the temperature drops twenty degress in two hours so she can concentrate on her school work without her legs shivering.  While half-way across the globe my tax dollars pay for drone attacks that kill innocent children my daughter's age.  No matter how much their mothers try to cover them.

I can see a brown-skinned mother holding her daughter's hair back while she pukes in a bowl.  Norovirus knows no national boundaries.  It strikes at will, imprecisely.  So this mother is caring for her sick child.  Just like I did last week.  She nurses her back to health.  Then a drone strikes and kills this mother's child.  The child this person carried inside her own body for nine months.  This child who drank milk from this mother's breasts and grew strong and healthy.  This child who has nothing to do with terrorists any more than my child has to do with military superpowers.  This child is my child.

Make it stop! 

Today's cold rain reminds me of that day back in 2008 when I stood in line for an hour outside my caucus site to stand on your side of the room, President Obama.  I should have stood with the one guy in the corner holding a Dennis Kucinich sign.

But I did stand on your side of the room, Mr. Obama.  You said you were going to end the wars.  Then, after caucusing for you I voted for you in the elections, twice.  And I'm thrilled at so many of the good things that you have done for our nation.  But now it's time to call you out.

Make it stop!

President Obama, like McGovern said, let's see you lead the charge yourself.  If you honestly think these drone attacks are necessary to protect our nation from harm, as you said so here, please, sir, I ask you to spend a few minutes behind the controls of one of these drones.  What if it were you who sat in that safe seat far away and dropped a robot bomb and watched a child explode on a monitor before your eyes?  A child brushed off as "a dog".  Would you finally say enough's enough?

Make it stop!

It's time to rest our nation's arms and use our arms to cradle children instead of killing them.