i'm trying to get images of Mogadishu in 1993 out of my head. it's not working. why do i do this to myself? why do i watch war movies? especially ones based on real events? ESPECIALLY ones about real events that i REMEMBER? i'm a sociopolitical masochist.
it's like i want the stress-headache that follows watching a two and a half hour movie about a military operation that, a) was a complete cock-up, b) was completely preventable, c) was part of the beginning of the end of post-Cold-War American multilateralism (fuck you Blogger, multilateralism IS a word!!!) and d) was the single biggest reason the United States never even entertained the possibility of thinking of maybe intervening in Rwanda in 1994, and e) ends in lost of people dying (which i knew long before turning DVD player on). oh, and which resulted in Presidential Directive #25 which is my second-most-hated government document in history (and yes, i mean ALL of history). [don't fret, at some point i'm sure i'll go on a rant about my first-most-hated government document...]
honestly, i'm not going to go off on my Rwanda rant -believe me, you REALLY don't want me to- but it still bugs the hell out of me that i can't just watch a movie without thinking about all of the context and the 16 years of civil war since the Battle of Mogadishu. or the fact that wikipedia has to index "Battle of Mogadishu" by date, because there is more than one.
i feel a strange kind of guilt that i am not doing something to more actively address these issues. ('address these issues' being my idiotic euphemism for 'save the world') i want to. seriously. i'm not kidding when i say i want to re-write the UNHCR's operating manual. i actually think i could -with time and some experience- overhaul the way refugee and IDP camps are administrated so that they actually MAKE SENSE and don't become a one-stop militia-recruitment site for rebel armies comprised primarily of kidnapped, brainwashed child-soldiers. and i really DO want to reform the DPKO, because Chapter 6 missions are a disaster waiting to happen and the results of bureaucratic cock-ups are just too well-documented to ignore. see, again, Rwanda.
i feel badly that i can't force myself into stomach ulcers and stress-induced hemorrhoids in order to save humanity. frankly, i've been there. i tried that. i found that most of the people who were doing it had ulterior motives or something to prove. i just want to save people's lives. i just want them to be in a position to bitch and complain about their government because a) they have the political freedom to do so, b) they aren't too busy fighting for their lives or their next meal, and c) they HAVE a government [i'm not saying it has to be a big-ole-Western-style-liberal-democracy] about which to complain.
i'm not entirely sure how i'm going to do that without an IR degree, a law degree and advanced paramedical training, but then, most of the people WITH those things aren't entirely sure how to do it either. so really, the 40,000$ piece of paper that says i've studied this stuff (which, incidentally, i don't have yet) won't even begin to explain how much i care about this stuff and have paid attention to it all for longer than is probably psychologically healthy - even if it makes me want to cry.
it does make me want to cry. it gives me migraines. it turns my back into a dangerously tense slab of concrete about as dense, impenetrable and volatile as the Berlin Wall. which is surprisingly bearable when you have a boyfriend who you can cajole into providing endless back-rubs, and surprisingly painful when you don't. and i don't anymore.
i'm not saying that my lack of relationship is to blame for my inability to continue studying IR -i think it has more to do with my interests in the field consisting of genocide, refugee and IDP studies and the fact that reading about those things for 90% of your week would make ANY normal person nuts- but it sure as hell doesn't help that i have no one to talk me down off my idealistic ledge at the end of the day. i don't think i realized how much i depended on my ex-boyfriends.
i suppose i'm a serial monogamist: i spent found and a half of the six years between my 19th and 25th birthdays in a series of long term relationships. i have now been single for about 16 months; which is actually the longest time i have ever been continuously single since i started dating. i'm actually surprisingly happy being single (woohoo! being selfish!) but i'd become quite dependent on others to remind me to stay sane. because i need the reminder.
my last relationship ended for a lot of reasons, but one of them was my ex's hypocrisy. he was constantly on my case to take care of myself (because i have an autoimmune disorder that, of all cruel ironies, essentially makes me allergic to the cold), yet he was the one in surgery two weeks after his twenty-third birthday because he'd stressed himself into unabating sickness. that was part of my wake up call. he was so passionate, and so dedicated, and so in love with his work -i'm not just saying that, he really REALLY loves it- but it was making him sick. literally. not the best plan to have your voice-of-reason be someone who puts their country's national interests above his health. i can't do that.
a friend of mine once told me that her grandparents always put each other above everything. even above their children. reason being, if their relationship was healthy, everything else would fall into place. if that core relationship wasn't healthy, nothing else could be either. i'm not suggesting we all become self-interested, but there is some value in taking care of oneself. there is some value in making sure we're healthy so that we can do what we can to help others.
which is why i think it's somehow ironic that Western countries try to take the lead in solving the world's problems. there are enough issues to deal with at home. i'm not saying that we (as states) shouldn't look out for one another, i'm saying that sometimes the easiest way to help the world is to set a good example and to become the kind of country we're constantly trying to convince the rest of the world to be. i say become because we're not. none of us. not Canada or the United States or Britain or any other signatory of NATO.
just as the United States has this delusional image of itself as a bastion of freedom and democracy (EXCUSE ME?? Guantanamo Bay????), Canada has this delusion of itself as The World's Peacekeeper. we're not. not by a long shot. reality check time!!! the biggest contributor of troops to UN Peacekeeping Operations? Pakistan. seriously. they have over eleven thousand personnel on peacekeeping missions (11,135 as of Dec. 31,08). Canada has 179. total. we're #49 of the list of contributors. that's 179 out of 91,712 UN Peacekeeping personnel. i can't even bring myself to calculate what dismal fraction of a percentage that is. and we're supposed to be the 'country of peacekeepers'? bullshit. our national self-image is utter bullshit. most Western self-perception is. like the following. (you really MUST click on the link to understand) this is sick. it's tragically ironic, almost Sophoclean in the magnitude of its axiomatic paradox. which is an entirely different headache.
in the end though, it's all one big headache. a big headache derived from the fact that someone, somewhere is dying for no good reason because i haven't got enough energy left to do something about it.
my mother wanted to die saving someone's life.
i want to die saving the world.
but i probably won't.