I am one of those people who almost always have an opinion. I am a news junky, and a foreign affairs addict. I listen to political talk radio every day on my 35 mile commute to work.
Its usually easy for me to express my views on any and every political situation. NSA spying? Bad. Edward Snowdon? Good. ObamaCare? Good. Sequester? Bad. Stop and Frisk? Bad, bad, bad!!!! Occupy Wall Street? Good, at least for a while.
You get the idea.
My father once told me that I seemed to have opinions even on topics I knew nothing about. He was pretty much right: I could take the smallest fact and turn it into a political position. I was kind of proud of that, actually.
Now, though, I am truly of two minds. I find myself profoundly glad that I don’t have to be the one to make a decision about how to react to the situation in Syria.
For the most part, I agree with Rand Paul, who says that the US should use its military might only to protect direct national interests, and only if all other options have been tried. Like just about every other American I know, I am sick of war. I am tired of checking on those whose children and brothers and husbands have been deployed. Tired of seeing the names of the dead on the news. I am tired of knowing that billions of dollars a month (a week? a day?) are going toward those war efforts and that in spite of those dollars, soldiers are still being injured and killed.
Mostly, I am a pacifist. I believe in diplomacy. I believe that if the US really worked hard in negotiations with Syria’s allies (Russia, China, even Iran), we could peacefully pry Bashar Al Assad out of office and end this terrible civil war.
But how long would that take, and how many more civilians would be gassed in the meantime?
And that is where I run smack into my internal conflict.
I recently visited the National Jewish American History Museum in Philadelphia. I enjoyed the exhibits about immigration, the industrial revolution, Jewish culture in America. But I was brought to tears by a film that featured an old man, a former American Soldier who had been one of the men who liberated the camp at Dachau. He talked about what he saw there; rooms full of human hair, boxes filled with human teeth, mass graves filled with the bones of his fellow humans. And he talked about the faces of those who were still living when the camp was liberated. The film showed us those faces; hopeless, horrified, their huge eyes staring out at us, asking why it took us so long to get there.
And the old veteran, wiping tears from his own eyes fifty years after he became a witness to the horror, told the filmmaker, “It isn’t enough to remember and to think, ‘Never again.’ It isn’t enough to feel bad. We have to act. We have to demand that it never happens again.”
And therein lies my sense of conflict.