"Sorry I have not written much lately. We have had a hard couple days. We are running full tilt. And always we have lots of kids in the clinic. We are tired. But we are well."
Earlier in the day, I received this email from The Hubs a.k.a. my husband, a surgeon deployed to Afghanistan. As someone in the medical field for over twenty years, I could only imagine what had ripped through the trauma center. Hence, I was in no mood for a round of Trash Can Politics.
"How is your husband?"
The person asking caught me as I was taking the trash cans to the curb. I've assiduously avoided her, since every inquiry about The Hubs is followed by a cutting opinion about the war in Afghanistan. She is, like many in this suburb, tucked away from the untidiness of life. Here in the land of the car, there are few amputee veterans trying to catch buses, nor in plain view are mothers raising four children while their spouses are at war. This community is voluntarily cut off from the vagaries of the larger world, mired in static rhetoric and conventional wisdom. This town is rose bushes and palm trees.
Turns out she's watched Charlie Wilson's War, her launching point at the Trash Can Summit on a hot summer day. She continued, her range extending to Blackwater, as I walked across the street to move an ailing neighbor's cans to the curb as well. Nothing was going to deter her from expressing her disgust, not my own reading and research into culture, my correspondence with people on the ground, my daily review of milblogs, or my camping out in the library where such books are kept.
"And why are we doing this? For what? Are you going to change their culture?" she asked.
Such a broad question cannot be answered. Especially, while walking barefoot on the black asphalt and hauling cans to the street. But it didn't matter. She didn't really want an answer. People like her never do.
Like many, her stance is that it's hopeless. We should pull out.