Thursday, October 28, 2004
In this dream I was chosen to be a participant in a socialogical experiment. I was in a room with a bunch of other men and women, just milling about. I was told that my job was to keep a group of men from kissing the women. Soon enough, a door opened and several men rushed in running and chasing and kissing women at random while us "protectors" chased them. Needless to say, not too effectively on our behalf. The "invaders" left and there was a rest period before the experiment continued. Anticipating a similar second round, I started to get the other men together to try and organize a strategy to "protect" the women. The door opened for the second time and while we were more prepared and did better, there still were quite a few kisses landed.
This cycle continued I don't know how many times. As it did, though, the "invaders" got more and more rude, high-fiving after a successful kiss, taunting the women they caught. "You know you wanted it baby!" The women became more and more upset. The experiment was less a game and more a personal afront. And try as we might we just couldn't keep the "invaders" away. In the latest assault we actually formed a solid wall of bodies around the women, but still some got through. It was at that time I devised a new tactic.
I got the men together and said if we were to have any success we had to defeat teh invaders before they came through the door. During the break period we would seek out and confront the "invaders". We organized into teams of three or four, the intention being that each team would find find an "invader" and physically convince him not to come back into the room. Yes, we were going to the bathrooms and hallways to beat up these men. For each group we appointed a leader who was specifically tasked to not be involved in the beating but to act instead to ensure the targetted "invader" was not killed or permanently injured (this was an experiment, after all). We had, as a group, decided to coldly and purposefully hunt down and one-by-one beat each "invader" into submission.
I woke up before I had the chance to see the result of the plan, but its obvious that my mind had symbolically substituted the "invaders" for the terrorists we are, today, hunting down and killing. The obvious conclusion being that to really protect our citizens here, we had to keep the "invaders" from ever entering the room. Not so obvious to me was another interpretation one of a different mind might have. Might Noam Chomskey, having the exact same dream, see us as the "invaders" and the terrorists as the men going out to individually intimidate the "invaders" to leave them alone? I'm sure he and many others would come to that conclusion, but I think that though process, like many, says more about the mind of the person than the events depicted.
In the dream it is clear that the "invaders" are the "bad guys". They are the ones causing trouble, disrupting the peace. In my mind it is natural to understand the terrorists as playing that role in the real world. They have accosted our citizens, violated their peace and celebrated the pain and destruction caused. For the Noam Chomskeys and Michael Moores, however, it is America that plays the villian in world affairs. But even if one were to feel that American intervention in the world, (economical, environmental, political, etc.) was less than noble there is still the discontinuity between the role of "invader" and those whom the terrorist are hunting to visit violence upon. In this way of thinking, the men of the dream should have sought out the wives, children, friends and neighbors of the "invaders" and beaten them up, beacause the terrorists are completely indiscriminate in the application of violence.
As I said, though, the dream was disturbing as well. The anger, frustration and pain experienced with each victory of the "invaders" was real and strongly felt. So, too, was the sadness and gravity of our decission to preemptively attack them. Questioning if this was the right thing to do while knowing it was the only thing we could do. The conscious effort taken to not sacrifice too much humanity in executing the plan by placing responsible leaders to make sure the action was effective but no more damaging than needs be. Ours was not an easy decission, but it was necessary. So to was the decission by this nation and her President to go forth into battle.
In retrospect I, too, was reminded of John Kerry's "nuisance" comment. At the beginning of the experiment in my dream we saw it as a game, a fun activity by both. As it progressed, though, we came to know the "invaders" for the pain, humiliation and fear they reveled in. A return to "nuisance" implies unlearning all we now know about terrorism and its ugly underside. While Kerry used an analogy to gambling and prostitution, I think a more accurate legal comparisson would be rape. While noone could possibly believe random rapes can be eliminated, noone would think of a low level of rape as a "nuisance." And if there were organized gangs of serial rapists it makes no sense to not agressively pursue and destroy them. It is this lack of vision that he so tellingly reveals every time he speaks openly and candidly that bothers me.