THE BLOG

The Sounds of War

11/17/2011 09:02 am ET

Early last evening as the rainy day turned into an evening with light drizzle, the booms and shrieks began to fill the air in ostensible celebration of Independence Day. Actually, I believe it's less in celebration from where our country has come and more in trying to see how much noise can come out of the firecracker. Anyway, I was in my house working on an essay I've been honing for a few days and wasn't startled by what sounded like warfare going on outside my home. As I continued writing, I went to do a Google search and saw the news headline: Six Canadian Soldiers and Afghan Interpreter Killed in Afghanistan By a Road Bomb.

I couldn't write anymore upon reading that, while outside the booms and shrieks continued.

I poured myself a glass of wine and stood at my front door, looking toward the sky. From my vantage point, I couldn't see much of a display, but wondered what it would be like if it were the sounds of war instead of celebration going on in my neighborhood, not to mention all across Long Island. Earlier I had spoken to some friends who stayed home because their dog gets incredibly nervous by the sounds of fireworks. He is an old, sweet dog and they worry about him, which I understand. Yet, I couldn't help but wonder just what would it be like had the dog's fears been realized due to gunfire instead of fireworks.

People everyday live and die among the ruins of war with the explosive bombs drawing closer and closer still. Children play in rubble surrounded by the odor of death. What was once a family pet is now a stray wandering and scrounging for a scrap of food. Yet, here in America we have different concerns--not usually survival concerns--but concerns that help us forget that there are wars going on out there, oftentimes wars that just don't make sense to any of us. But we need to try and make sense somehow. We need to try to sort it all out. It's not easy to do because even those who are in the thick of battle try to make sense of what is going on and often come up with no answers.

As I've done in the past, I invite you to visit independent journalist Arthur Kent's web site. Without an agenda, political or otherwise, it's easier to get a clearer picture about what is happening in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, most of the news outlets here twist the stories coming out of battlefields and use particular phrases that automatically wedge preconceived notions in our minds without our even realizing it. The idea of "just the facts" has gotten lost in propaganda.

Eventually, though, for me the noise subsided and I decided to call it a night.

This morning, when I woke up, I dragged myself outside to get the paper, which is something I always do, and there was nothing to prove the previous night had been explosive, save for a few remnant firecrackers littering the street. The rain had gone and the sun was breaking through the few remaining clouds. I then thought of those six Canadian families and the Afghan interpreter's family and how in one fiery moment so many lives had been changed.

Sometimes the silence afterward is deafening.