Monday, July 11, 2005


We have two lovely neighbors in their early 30s, both archeologists. The brother of one of them was wounded in Iraq today, somewhere north of Baghdad. He is a lieutenant in the infantry, and was wounded between his shoulder and neck. Apparently he will recover. The call came in from Iraq today to his sister, who soon after sat on our sofa looking bewildered, just home from work.

Our young neighbors were shaken at this distressing news, a hair's breath from tragic. I uncorked a bottle of champagne. We shared a toast to her brother, the lieutenant who now wears a purple heart somewhere in an Army hospital in Iraq. She recounted her years growing up with him, and a few humorous anecdotes. She then drove off to be with her parents, who were waiting for her on the other side of town.

Sometimes I forget that we're in a real war. I know it, but rarely does it come to my home, as a grim expression on my neighbor's face. Too much blogging and reading can make this conflict abstract; it promotes an academic view of war, of life, and of this struggle. But the abstraction is a lie. It's a way to push reality back to a tolerable corner, to a space where it can be observed and analyzed, but hardly felt -- no, not really felt at all. Perhaps this is how we cope. It's how I cope.

I hope my neighbor's brother will be alright. I hope he is well equipped -- both in terms of hardware, morale and leadership. I still believe that this war is pivotal for the future of freedom and democracy, the West, the Arab world, and much more. It's a very confusing, tumultuous time. I keep hoping to find unanimity on the front pages. But instead, I find more abstraction.

I have so much to be grateful for. I have a beautiful fifteen month old daughter who runs around in the summer heat barefoot, in a yellow dress. I have my health, and don't devote much of my time considering sniper's bullets and IEDs.

Abstraction was my form of self defense, until a few degrees of separation connected me to this war, on a hot summer evening.