Tell Me, Tell Me One More Time

Our lives are so different, yours and mine. Sometimes I wonder if we can find the middle ground I am certain exists between us. Then I see this.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) – Enraged Shiites burned people to death, torched mosques and denounced Sunni leaders and the United States a day after a bloody assault on Sadr City, the Iraq capital’s Shiite bastion. That coordinated strike, which killed more than 200 and wounded more 250 Thursday, is considered the worst of the Iraq war, and Sunni militants are widely assumed to have carried it out. Witnesses said Shiite gunmen on Friday attacked two mosques with rocket-propelled grenades and burned two other Sunni mosques in the largely Shiite area of Hurriya in northwestern Baghdad. (Watch as all-out civil war threatens to overtake Iraq ) They reported people attacking Sunni houses with hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenades. Shiite militiamen are also said to have doused Sunnis with kerosene and burned them, and shot at other people. One witness reported at least five people were killed. An official with the Association of Muslim Scholars, a Sunni group, said many more were killed and wounded but could not confirm numbers.

This is a gently sanitized version of the story I read a few hours ago. In that version, CNN reported that six men were corralled. Kerosene was poured on them and they were set on fire. No matter what happens to me in this lifetime, no matter what I witness or hardship I endure, I hope nothing can rob me of my humanity and permit what’s left of me to do something this savage.

This is what we unleashed because our government was too stupid to realize that unlike in the US, where we can’t remember back two or three months, in the Middle East, grudges go back centuries. You cannot change that with rhetoric. It is simply the character of things in real life, and we must accept this.

Somewhere, in the expanse between us, where I have been saying for five years that we’re being stupid with millions of lives and where you’ve been saying we have to fight terrorism where we find it, lies the historical notion that nations choose their own governments. I don’t get to pick what happens in any country in the world, but current events remind us that you don’t, either.

Is it so hard to recognize that you are as powerless to influence world events as anyone else? Or as powerful?

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