I have a certain amount of mixed emotions regarding Cindy Sheehan’s announcement that she’s giving up on the peace movement. More profound is that she is giving up on the idea of America as a society that welcomes, or at the very least tolerates, the divergent perspective. It is unfortunate that in this country a grieving mother cannot express sincere political philosophy, inspired by the death of her son, without being viciously attacked by people who are not only opposed to her views, but have something to loose if her views find public acceptance.
When Ms. Sheehan focused only on confronting the political right about their responsibility for the death of her son and others just like him who perished in the senseless conflict of Iraq, half the political machine condemned her while the other half supported her. The left side of the political aisle never bothered to acknowledge the reality that Ms. Sheehan was a grieving mother with a cause. The left saw Ms. Sheehan as little more than a pawn in their cause to demonize the right. When Ms. Sheehan woke to realize that the right was only half the problem and the liberal left was just as culpable in the death of all our soldiers and all those Iraqi civilians, Ms. Sheehan lost a great deal of her support. Suddenly, Ms. Sheehan is the problem of everyone from the left through right who has something to gain from the continuance of the conflict. Ms. Sheehan has uncovered the uncomfortable reality of the American Matrix.
The death of Casey Sheehan was the red pill that shattered Ms. Sheehan’s illusion of America being the beautiful land of the free and home of the brave. The ugly reality is that the people of the United States are too engrossed in their own little world of illusion to care about the reality of what’s going on around us. All of us are too busy trying to obtain our piece of the American pie that few of us have the time to care about the illusion or reality of others. In deed, before her son Casey died, Ms. Sheehan suffered from her own lack of caring. Casey Sheehan wasn’t the first soldier to die in the war on terror. Plenty of other men and women had already been killed in the war. There were other mothers and fathers who had already suffered lost. But Ms. Sheehan didn’t give a damn about their sacrifice and went happily about her life.
Now, after so many years of trying to rage against the machine, after making personal sacrifices in her life and the rearranging her priorities for her noble cause, Ms. Sheehan is disappointed over her lack of effectiveness in changing the attitude of a nation of people who pretty much don’t care. And of the other people who do care it’s only for the benefit of their political aspirations.
But in all honesty, it doesn’t appear as if Ms. Sheehan has experienced much of a transformation. While attention whore may be strong, Ms. Sheehan does appear to suffer from a need for recognition or acknowledgement. Ms. Sheehan spent a great deal of her activist career asking for a personal meeting for the President so he can learn how she felt about her loss as well as give him an opportunity to explain to her what noble cause her son died for. Ms. Sheehan seems to be continuing the same typical behavior of most people in mainstream America. Ms. Sheehan never expressed an interest in the peace movement until she actually had something to gain from it. But the peace movement shouldn’t be used as an opportunity for someone to obtain personal closure over their son’s death.
One of my biggest personal problems is my naiveté. I used to think that people who join peace movements are altruistic with a sincere concern about the welfare of others as well as the welfare of the community. But Ms. Sheehan didn’t join the antiwar movement until after she lost her son. Had Ms. Sheehan’s conviction been a little more genuine then I would imagine she may have stayed at least a little longer.
But Ms. Sheehan has to get back to her life. While it is very important that anybody and everybody who feels the need to protest to join the movement and stay true to the cause, I don’t think anyone can really blame her for going home. With the distraction of the movement behind her Ms. Sheehan can get back to what is truly important to her. And the antiwar movement can get back to what is important to it.
No comments yet.