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Finding Hope

December 2, 2009

Overall, it was pretty surreal to watch President Obama’s speech last night and have flashes in my memory of being out to brunch with family for my birthday eight years ago and watching a different president declare war on Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a country which, back then, in all honesty (although I’m pretty savvy with a map) I probably could not have correctly placed and I definitely would have had to think twice about how to spell correctly. Now, eight years later, I’m working in Washington, DC – mere blocks from the White House and across the street from the Capitol. I write about Afghanistan on a near daily basis, and while I know there is always more to learn – I know far more now about this mountainous country that has been the host of conflicts for multiple decades.

While watching the address, I was struck by the lack of experience my generation has with the daily impact of “total war.” Mine is a generation that will no doubt be defined by 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and yet there are people, like myself, who often have the luxury of being disconnected from these conflicts if they so choose. What I mean by this is that without in anyway discounting the personal sacrifices of our military and their family and friends, there is the option (for many in the United States) to remain disconnected with this war on a daily basis as compared to past conflicts.

In his first year (nearly) in office, President Obama has had to tackle a greater host of issues, all seeming to reach a climax at the same moment, than anyone may have expected. I for one do not envy his position. At the same time, I do see value in the question many pose of ‘where’s the change we believed in?’ But as many at FCNL have pointed out before, change can not come only from one person. If you are anything like me and feel that in some ways, the people of the United States are disconnected from its wars, maybe now is the time to connect. Maybe now is the time to speak out about what the other options are if “War is Not the Answer.”

Like it or not, I am part of a generation that will be defined by 9/11 and our current wars just as past generations were defined by Vietnam and WWII. As hard as it is to be hopeful on days like today, I’d like to think that my generation might also be defined by how we deal with these issues, how we seek for ways forward, and how we try to find alternatives to answering violence with more violence.

In peace and with hope,


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