(Top 101) #47. The Water Is Wide – Karla Bonoff

I was walking to the subway station yesterday when I noticed a huge white tent set up in the park right next to the entrance.  Inside, there were framed photos of about forty young men in navy uniforms.  I realized what this was:  these were the Korean soldiers who died in the shipwreck that occurred recently.  Even I, in my writing coccoon, had heard the story, how a North Korean torpedo was likely responsible.  But until I saw those pictures, it was just another terrible but distant news story, the dead anonymous and unknown.  But my God, those faces, they were so terribly young. 

And right now, I’m watching a news documentary about the incident, and there’s footage of parents and other family members grieving the dead, wailing from the soul.  It’s frightening and heartbreaking to watch; I can’t even imagine–nor do I want to–what they must be going through.   I think it would hurt more than dying itself. 

Ultimately, those young men are victims of war, since North Korea and South Korea are really still in a stand-off that’s only a few rash steps away from a full-out war.  And I think about the war against Iraq, and how people opposed to it were accused of being anti-American and anti-military.  I remember thinking how a part of supporting the military is to make sure their lives are placed at risk only when absolutely necessary.  War is not a sign of bravado; it must only be used as a very last resort–as was the case in World War II.  And I’m sorry, but I do not believe President-at-the-time George Bush thought of it as such.  And yes, I do believe the blood of the casualties–both American and Iraqi–is on his hands.  Just as the blood of these Korean soldiers is–if North Korea was indeed responsible–on Kim Jung-Il’s hands.   Assholes.  Seriously, why must there be so many assholes in positions of power? 

I don’t even know what I’m saying.  It’s just that life is hard much of the time.  I remember reading somewhere that all human sadness ultimately comes from just one thing:  the inability to get what we want.  Well, that may be true.  But I don’t think it makes us petty.  Rather, it just makes us what we are:  human.  As human beings, we want, and we want so desperately.  It’s a part of what makes us alive and sadly, also the reason why we must suffer while we are.  We have to take our comfort where we can, through love, friendships, acts of kindness, and sometimes through song.  So this one goes out to all of us who are in pain now, no matter what the source, no matter where you may be.  Let us be strong.

47. The Water Is Wide – Karla Bonoff

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