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Stop worrying and learn to love the war

By qpt in Op-Ed
Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 10:53:29 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

The last few weeks have had more than their share of stress. The rent is three months overdue, the human resourced budget at work is starting to look tight, and your long-time significant other seems to be losing interest. In fact, personal disasters so overwhelm you that you have not the time to worry about destruction of national landmarks by terrorists, deadly biological agents spreading through the postal systems, or the potential for land war in Asia. As much as it shames you to admit it, you find that you do not even care about Infinite Justice.

Worry not. We will have you fixed up in no time.

While your coworkers congregate around the coffee machine to discuss matters of foreign policy and domestic security, you find your eyes wandering toward the marketing intern down the hall. As you drive home, you listen to pundits on the radio pronounce the unvarying worth of all human life, but you cannot help but notice how worthless your own feels. When you log onto your favorite website, the discussion seems repetitive and trite, despite the weighty subject matter. Bored, you download absurd amounts of pornography instead.

You lay in bed in the dark, not completely sober, and reflecting miserably on your apparent selfishness and misanthropy in the face of global crises. You would like to care, but your own troubles weigh too heavily on your mind. Exhausted, you slip into slumber, convinced that you are a social cripple, unable to view matters from the perspective of humanity as a whole - unable to intuitively understand the crises that western civilization is facing.

It is merely a matter of perspective, though. The impending apocalypse could be yet another problem to add to your extensive list of woes, or it could be the solution to everything that has been eating at you. It is time for you to learn what the globally aware have know forever - that social responsibility and a comprehensive grasp of current affairs are the panacea for individual responsibility.

When you feel financial obligations looming large, when bills stack several inches deep on the table, take time to imagine the lethal bacterium that could very well be lurking in each envelope. Mindless panic will envelope you like a warm, comforting blanket. Try to envisage every single innocent civilian killed by the United States military action. Never mind that you do not know any of these people, that the odds of them meaningfully contributing to humanity were pathetically small, or that you do not even really like people to begin with. Just let the horror enclose you in a safe, protective shell.

When you are consumed with diffuse feelings of collective guilt and you feel responsibility for things you never did to people you never met, then you are well on your way to becoming a global citizen. When you feel rage over atrocities committed against strangers and you feel threatened by people who may or may not exist but certainly care nothing about you, then you will be ready to live in the 21st century. When your personal responsibilities and obligations are muffled by an abstract sense of social culpability, you will stop worrying and learn to love the war.


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I love the war
o No 57%
o Soon 20%
o Yes 22%

Votes: 89
Results | Other Polls

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Stop worrying and learn to love the war | 41 comments (26 topical, 15 editorial, 0 hidden)
Misanthropic hate-filled rant, MINUS ONE FROM ME! (2.50 / 8) (#2)
by greenrd on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 07:07:30 AM EST

As far as I can tell the article is a rant AGAINST concern about the war, please correct me if I've missed some subtlety.

that the odds of them meaningfully contributing to humanity were pathetically small

We are talking about innocent civilians here. They feel pain when they are cut up by shrapnel (unless they are lucky enough to be killed instantly, which is not always the case). They grieve when their children are blown up. Have you no conscience?

or that you do not even really like people to begin with.

I think this part says it all.

"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes

No, its fair comment. (3.66 / 3) (#5)
by FredBloggs on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 07:42:26 AM EST

People ARE shit. We`re all going to die soon anyway (unless you have any particular reason for feeling optimistic about the future, in which case i`d be interested to hear it).
I think the post was amoral, rather than immoral.

[ Parent ]
Immoral (3.00 / 3) (#12)
by greenrd on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 12:28:37 PM EST

It certainly is immoral! Saying that it doesn't matter if you kill someone because they would never contribute anything to society (which is not true anyway), is like the Nazis pro-euthanasia propaganda, which asked schoolkids to calculate the cost to the state of keeping disabled people alive. Reread my post above.

(Godwin be damned. This time the comparison to the Nazis is accurate.)

"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Well, (3.66 / 3) (#19)
by FredBloggs on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 01:36:27 PM EST

i agree that wasnt very nice. But i dont seek to agree with everything everybody writes. It had a touch of the Holden Caulfield about it - not that i`m comparing the author to Salinger - but i can see where he`s coming from.

"When you are consumed with diffuse feelings of collective guilt and you feel responsibility for things you never did to people you never met"

I personally had as much to do with slavery as i did with the WTC events. Am i expected to feel guilty about both of them? Fuck that! Wasnt me, next. (Not that they arent both deadly serious subjects, worthy of analysis in far greater depth than will be even attempted here).

[ Parent ]
Why I'm optimistic. (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by tzanger on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 02:54:16 PM EST

People ARE shit. We`re all going to die soon anyway (unless you have any particular reason for feeling optimistic about the future, in which case i`d be interested to hear it).

I have three very good reasons to be optimistic about the future: My sons and my daughter.

Sounds kind of trite, doesn't it? I'm absolutely serious. I did not go and have children in order to indoctrinate them that "people are shit" and that there is nothing worth living for and we're all gonna die soon. The world is an awfully big place and humans are quite adaptable. My children will grow up, and grow old, war or no war. That's my job as a parent: to raise them and teach them how to survive.

Yes, bad things are happenning. Yes, people can be monsters. Both of these things have been happenning ever since humans appeared on the planet and will continue to do so until humans stop existing on the planet. However we've been through wars before and survived. We've been through plague and depression and oppression. We've made it through.

There are a lot of beautiful and optimistic things in the world and they can exist alongside the horrible and pessimistic. At the risk of sounding like some Disney movie, look for the good things in life. Dwell on them and enjoy the time you have. That's part of survival for the human spirit.

Focus exclusively on the negative and you yourself will become negative. I'm not running around with my head in the sand, but I'll be god-damned if I give my children the kind of outlook on life you're spewing. Life's already too short to go around grumbling about how horrible everything is.

[ Parent ]
Plus One From Me (3.75 / 4) (#14)
by tudlio on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 12:42:05 PM EST

I can't say that I agree with the sentiment, and probably all of my contributions to this site in the last month-and-a-half have been related to the war, because I think it's important. Last I checked, I wasn't late on any of my bills, and I hadn't ignored any of my personal responsibilities.

However, this is explicitly an opinion piece. I just checked the moderation guidelines, and as far as I can tell, "I disagree with the author's opinion," isn't considered a good reason to vote an article down. I think this is the first effective spokesperson the nihilists on this site have had, so I say let 'em be heard.

insert self-deprecatory humor here
[ Parent ]
Misanthropic hate-filled rant, PLUS ONE FRONT PAGE (3.50 / 4) (#15)
by sja8rd on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 12:52:02 PM EST

I personally found this "misanthropic hate-filled rant" to be well written and quite entertaining. This article is written from a perspective that isn't very politically correct, but is one that many people share. Therefore, it is completely valid. Even if you don't like what it says. so there.

[ Parent ]
Heh heh. (none / 0) (#33)
by DarkZero on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 03:33:25 AM EST

Taking satire and analyzing it word by word. That's just plain DUMB, man.

I'm guessing this is one of those people that was completely horrified by "A Modest Proposal" until someone explained the joke to them.

[ Parent ]

Oops.... (4.00 / 1) (#37)
by nickfusion on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 11:17:24 AM EST

The big flashing "Satire" sign seems to have shorted out. It blows a fuse every now and again, and causes all sorts of confusion.

Until repairman can be called, please get all your information from CNN.com. Their mainstream views refreshing LCD stylings will provide a safe haven until the "Satire" sign is once again operational.

Thank you for your support in this time of crisis.

What were you expecting?
[ Parent ]
What are you saying here ? (2.80 / 5) (#6)
by mami on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 08:23:08 AM EST

I think I might not get it, but it seems to be subtly perverse, very depressive and a desperate attempt of self-scrutiny to me.

I don't remember quite exactly, but a long time ago (may thirty years or so) I read somewhere that men go into war deliberately for two reasons, to protect of what they love (find meaning in destruction of what the enemy hates and they want to protect to survive and live) or to flee from what they hate (find meaning in the destruction some fictitious enemy based on hate).

I clearly like the first better. I don't get in which category you might belong. But asking us to love war is a bit too much for me. I would allow noone else to do that other than a commander, who is sending his soldiers into a battle doomed to be suicital for most of those guys. Noone else should play around with such perverse rhetorical thoughts other than the ones who need to soothe their fears before running into death (for a good cause).

I don't like your article. I can't quite figure out why. I vote -1.

Oh well, not everyone can be expected to get it. (2.00 / 1) (#26)
by regeya on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 07:56:03 PM EST

Probably just a difference between men and women.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Interesting (3.85 / 7) (#8)
by bil on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 09:02:24 AM EST

When your personal responsibilities and obligations are muffled by an abstract sense of social culpability, you will stop worrying and learn to love the war.

To me this is the essential point, love the war, not because its good, or because its right, but because its easier then worrying about your real life. You may not really care about whats going on, but if you make the effort and force yourself to, then all of your lifes problems will just fade away, dwarfed by the big problem that you can do nothing about anyway (and therefore dont have to worry about)

Thats my interpretation anyway. +1 FP (because its interesting and well written and a new take on the subject)


Where you stand depends on where you sit...

But (4.80 / 5) (#13)
by greenrd on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 12:41:09 PM EST

Empirically, it just isn't true. I am concerned about the war, but I still have to worry about getting work done on time. I am in big trouble at work and I need to meet this latest deadline. No amount of thinking about the war will put that in the background (except temporarily).

What really pissed me off about the article, apart from of course the implication that Afghan lives are worthless, was the snide verbal stabbing of people like me who do actually care. It was an underhand satire of concerned people, trying to paint us as childish cluebies helplessly clinging on the war as a useful excuse to avoid facing up to our personal problems. It's true that some of us might find thinking about the war less stressful than thinking about our bosses or our relationship problems, say, but that's only half the story. It doesn't imply that our concern is fake.

This article is just another example of putting down people who have doubts about the war (ad homenim attacks rather than actually dealing with the points at issue), only this time it was snide and ironic. It seems to me that some on the pro-war side continually resort to the most lame and childest characterisations of their opponents rather than engaging in a rational argument.

"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

A perspective I hadn't seen... (4.75 / 4) (#23)
by Shovas on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 06:48:34 PM EST


The 5 is for posting an insightful comment that changed my view on the story.

After reading your post, suddenly my perspective on other people's posts also changed. I had thought this was a satirical piece saying that those who couldn't care less about local OR world events need to get in the game and get active in their culture, both towards their current environment and the larger global scale. And at this, I took pride in my ability to say that, yes, I had an opinion, I wasn't going with the flow, I was being persecuted for my thoughts, yet I held to them and I even had the intelligence to write to support my thoughts. This is how the story made me feel, initially.

Then you post came along.

I had not seen it in that light before. Congrats on bringing this side to light. Maybe I'm just dense, or biased in what I think K5's writership traditioanlly stands for. My original thought was that "learn to love the war" was the author's way of joking that we should forget our personal opinions and support the war effort.

And I have to say, as I see it, you're right. Those who think we're not caring when it comes to our own situation, but jump at a an issue we can't change; they're wrong. They are assuming our opinions are selfishly based.

Quite frankly, that gets me ticked and it angers me that our populace, in first world nations, seems to be so under educated in moral or ethical situations that they can not even wrap their minds around how some can think this way.

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
Disagree? Post. Don't mod.
[ Parent ]
Huh? Wha? (4.46 / 15) (#17)
by jabber on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 01:30:14 PM EST

I tried reading this, but got distracted by the bit about the marketting intern.. Isn't she cute? Why is it that the marketting and administrative departments get the cute chicks interning with them, and the best we can do in development is greasy-haired, pimple-faced, socially inept losers..

The other day she was wearing a tight little black mini, heels, and a fuzzy blue sweater. I swear, she is such a tease.. She does it on purpose you know.. She knows that I think she's cute, and that I would really like to share a coffee with her, or better yet, boink her into unconsciousness on the mahoganny conference table upstairs..

I've looked up her contact information, and I think I will try calling her tonight after work. Well, probably not.. I'll probably only let it ring once, hang up, and reheat some microwavable dinners.. Of course, I'll crack open a beer, and forget about the food, masturbate furiously while thinking about her supple calves, perky breasts and pouty lips, and fall asleep in the recliner again..

I wonder what she'll wear tomorrow.. I hope it will be that yellow summer dress, so that I can see the sillouette of her thighs as she walks away down the hall..

Anyway, what was your article about again?

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Very, very, very well done (4.45 / 11) (#21)
by DranoK 420 on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 02:00:17 PM EST

And sizzling a little -- could have been a little more raw -- I like a lil' blood in me meat -- but all in all a very tasty meal.

I like your writing style. Unlike so many self-serving idiots on K5 you know how to set a feeling -- a somber, apathetic sweat that pours down your forehead in anticipation of the next word, slowly turning to a pearl of laughter deep within your guts, erupting into a smile over such a depressing notion. The writing style was just brilliant. Thank you very much for that.

This isn't an editorial because I must include the following: I agree completely with what you say. Don't worry if some people don't get this -- after all, this article is about them, no? *grin* -- and nobody likes looking at themself too much in the mirror.

Isn't it easier to rage holy rhetoric against the evils of the US administration, or the terrorist organizations, than help your neighbor out in tough times? Of course it is.

Isn't it easier to contribute $10 to some stupid charity than drive down the street, pick up a child prostitute and give him a real meal, and help him find a way out of the whirlpool of decay? Isn't it? Isn't it so much easier to bitch and whine and feel scared of Anthrax than talk to that lonley woman in the corner of your office who can't quite talk right? To make her feel comfortable?

Despite what media, stories, and myths would have us believe, humans are *not* a caring species. We'd like to think we are, but really, we aren't. We do random acts of kindness every now and again, but they're the exception, not the rule.

Ever notice that it's hard to look homeless folk in the eye? Ever see a kid on the street at 1am and shudder, then turn up the radio to forget about it? What about when that single mother looks sadly upon her child in the checkout isle and refueses to buy a candy bar for him, her cart filled with obviously the cheapest items in the store? What of the senile old man standing confused in the middle of a parking lot, mumbling and requesting more money to pour the rest of his life away with alchohol?

Humans just don't give a flying fuck. And sometimes, every so often, when enough things have tormented our id, we feel we must do something.

So we pretend to care about starving children five billion miles away. We pretend to care about innocents dieing under US bomb raids. We pretend to care about the crimes against humanity in China.

And we still ignore those around us because, if we were really truthful to ourselves, we *don't* care.


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence.

telling myself the truth (3.00 / 4) (#25)
by nickco on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 07:46:39 PM EST

Are you sure you aren't suppressing your natural inclination to care when you can't meet the pathetic stare of that homeless man begging for pocket change?

I don't think the problem with the world is not caring. What person does not care about human suffering on some level or another? Even the world's worst murderers must have had someone they loved. We must convince people that every little thing they do to help is part of a concerted effort to make this world a better place. They must feel that they are doing something right and good for the world.. that they have made a difference. People can not be made to do anything through guilt, they must have a genuine desire to help. Every single individual who does any sort of charitable act should feel good about themselves, even if they are only saving a single life. Just because it is possible to help many people by making large personal sacrifices does not mean that that is the right way to do things. A small amount given at any time is enough, and certainly much better than nothing at all.

[ Parent ]
Rationalisation of callousness (4.00 / 1) (#28)
by greenrd on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 09:01:40 PM EST

I believe you are trying to rationalise callousness. You make a fallacious leap from saying that we block out horrors around us (which is true), to saying that we don't really give a fuck about anyone else (which is rather hard to believe).

What about a mother who sacrifices her own life to save her child?

Suppose a sibling of yours lived in a faraway country. If you were offered a choice by a Supreme Being between having your sibling do very well in life but you being hypnotised into thinking they'd done really badly, or the opposite, which would would you choose? I would choose the former, no sweat. But how can that be self-interested in any non-trivial sense?

"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

Not a rationalization (none / 0) (#29)
by physicsgod on Tue Oct 23, 2001 at 11:16:56 PM EST

The post didn't do attempt to excuse or rationalize callousness, it just described it. There are plenty of callous people out there, in fact everyone has to be callous about something or they'd be overwhelmed by the suffering of humanity. Why are you spending so much time fighting against the bombings in Afghanistan? Why not the people dying of AIDS in sub-saharan Africa? The children playing in raw sewage in Brazil? The mentally ill in the US who can't hold a job and are stuck on the streets without medical care?

It's all well and good to devote yourself to a cause, but doing so necessarily means not putting resources into another cause. You have to choose, and you chose the bombings. Someone else might have chosen something different. That choice does not make them immoral, anymore than you are immoral for choosing the bombings over the starving masses of India.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

Wow. (none / 0) (#32)
by Kasreyn on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 02:13:45 AM EST

"...drive down the street, pick up a child prostitute and give him a real meal, and help him find a way out of the whirlpool of decay?"

Wow. You have male child prostitutes where you are? Where do you live?! I'm moving there! =P


P.S. for the humor-challenged, that was A JOKE.

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
I agree... mostly. (none / 0) (#34)
by DarkZero on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 03:40:15 AM EST

DranoK, I agreed with just about everything you said, except for one thing that I feel is very important:

Isn't it easier to contribute $10 to some stupid charity than drive down the street, pick up a child prostitute and give him a real meal, and help him find a way out of the whirlpool of decay? Isn't it?

Because of this complete idiocy of the entire idea of charity in America becoming synonymous with September 11th, charitable organizations in America are facing a serious financial drought. For organizations that require money to bring about their form of help, such as homeless shelters, foreign aid groups, handicapped assistance groups, and those fighting for a cure for many very serious diseases, your money is needed now more than it ever was before. MUCH more than it ever was before, in fact.

Please, help that lonely woman at work or that child on the street. But if you have a spare ten bucks left in your wallet after giving some homeless person a good hot meal, please go that extra (but very important) mile to put it in a donation box.

[ Parent ]
The enemy (5.00 / 3) (#30)
by Dwonis on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 01:31:41 AM EST

So who was always the enemy today? Eurasia or Eastasia?

Eastasia! (none / 0) (#36)
by QuantumG on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 10:42:02 AM EST

The enemy has always been Eastasia and always will be Eastasia, how dare you suggest that our loyal allies Eurasia would ever turn against us! Why, I oughta turn you into the thought police! or better yet, I hope one of my kids or one of your kids or some other one of the spies turns you in! Traitor! Terrorist!

Oh my god, I've been in Paris too long, just look how many !'s were in that last paragraph.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
[ Parent ]

We're not wired to care for 6 billion people (none / 0) (#35)
by pyramid termite on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 09:55:04 AM EST

Think of it - we came into being as a species in small groups of no more than a couple of hundred of people at most. We aren't able, most of us, to remember the names of more than a few hundred. Even though, in the last few thousand years, we have become "civilized", we remain the creatures of villages - able to deal with and get along with a limited number of people effectively, unable to consider the consequences of dealing with more than that without feeling confusion, alienation and guilt. We now live in a profoundly artificial and unnatural environment we are not well adapted to. The only way it can be dealt with is by abstractions, many of which hold their own perils, whether it be the mad generalization the Nazis made that "the Jews" were responsible for the corrupted state of the modern world, or the equally mistaken belief of the terrorists that we Americans are a Satanic people keeping Islam from the glory of God. Qpt's writing here seems ambiguious to me, complaining that his personal life is a depressing mess while wondering if he shouldn't be caring more about the images he sees on TV of people who are clearly suffering more than he is. My only problem with his analysis is that he characterizes it as life in the 21st century, when it's actually just a more immediate and well-communicated 20th century life. One year into the new century, I have a hard time believing that people will feel the same way about partcipating in a society that is large to the point of utter incomprehensibilty in 2100.

It may be that what he's really saying is that people want to left the hell alone by a world they can have no real effect on. It may be that he's saying that people will take political positions and ally themselves with articifial tribes to make up for the lack of purpose and feelings of powerlessness over their own lives; as "their" politicians and warlords accomplish something, they have accomplished something too. Or it may be that he is struggling to overcome his feelings of guilt about being concerned with his own problems when the media are practically demanding his attention and loyalty over worldwide issues.

Or perhaps he's saying something a lot simpler - where the hell is my tribe and why can't I just deal with them?
On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
This article is pertinent here (none / 0) (#38)
by GoingWare on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 12:47:16 PM EST

This guy claims the U.S. knew about the attack in advance and allowed it to happen to prevent social upheaval brought about by impending economic collapse.

I am the K5 user now known as MichaelCrawford. I am not my corporation.

Radio Free Europe (none / 0) (#40)
by falonaway on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 11:37:07 AM EST

Just as a note, I found Radio Free Europe (rferl.org) an excellent source of news in this time of propaganda. As opposed to CNN who now is the leader of the ignorance brigade.

Stop worrying and learn to love the war | 41 comments (26 topical, 15 editorial, 0 hidden)
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