The age of disillusion

"We believed without proof that peace was the natural state and the substance of the universe, that war was only a temporary agitation on its surface. Today, we recognize our error: the end of war was merely the end of this war."

"" Jean-Paul Sartre

I have lived through two wars during my lifetime. First came the Gulf War. I felt fairly aware of events happening during the Gulf War, while I sadly lack a comprehensive knowledge about the current affair. What was the difference between these two wars that changed my attitude?

The Gulf War held my attention because it was seemingly accessible. I remember watching Gen. Schwarzkopf debriefing the progress of the war every day. Even though I was six, I wanted to know every occurrence of the war. I wanted to be informed.

It was easy to be patriotic and nationalistic about the Gulf War. The television, my parents, and everything around me told me the war was necessary. Companies even manufactured toys based on the war: trading cards of key generals and war machines, Saddam Hussein Dolls, and hobby kits of Stealth bombers and tanks. What can a child believe in the midst or complete propaganda?

The Gulf War was one of the most censored wars to date. Our government retained almost complete control over what was released. This control helped the majority of America support the war. As a six-year-old, I was programmed to support the war. I did not have any reason not to. I have great memories about the Gulf War: my dad setting a firecracker to a Saddam Hussein doll, my parents buying me countless packs of trading cards, and the local news interviewing my older brother about the trading cards. Until I recently read about the history leading up to the current Iraq War, I believed the Gulf War was a good and necessary war.

My second war, The Iraq War, has been difficult to accept because it is so ugly to watch. This war is far from glamorous because our media cannot mask the brutal reality that was hidden during the Gulf War. I realized our country is just as guilty of shameless nationalism and propaganda as any other "lesser" nation. My government and society would distort the mind of a six-year-old to ensure support. I lost faith in both capitalism and U.S.A. after this realization. While I believe both of these systems are the best models of their fields, I no longer believe they are infallible.

Knowing that the media is so easily censored and molded to fit the needs of our government, I do not watch or read much news in general. I have no trust in news. I believe my generation feels the same. We do not watch the news, we do not vote and we do not care. We have been used by the very systems that were supposed to protect us and are disillusioned with the systems that rule us.

However, disillusionment is no reason to remain uniformed. One must find a source of information one can trust. I scavenge for interviews with those who are educated enough to have a critical and intelligent opinion on the war. I find these interviews online, or stumble upon one on the networks while looking for Jeopardy. While we do live in the Information Age, we need to be critically thinking about every source of information we come across. If we cannot question the news we hear, we should not consume any information at all.

is a graduate of Southern Oregon University with a degree in English. He lives in Ashland with his fianc&


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