This morning, I turned on NPR. I listened to about a minute of a brief segment on Morning Edition. It was a tribute to an American kid who was killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq last week. I knew it would be sad. I braced myself. I listened to Jessy Pollard's family tell stories.
He was the oldest grandchild.
He loved to play with his cousins.
He enjoyed showing off that he had grown taller than his family members.
My immediate reaction wasn't to mourn for Jessy and his family. It wasn't their stories that moved me. It was the fact that their stories were my family's stories. I wasn't listening to a segment about Jessy. I was listening to my family talk about Rob. He's the oldest grandson in our family. He loves to play with his younger cousins, too. On 4th of July, Rob and I were sniping at each other about who was taller. He talked all kinds of trash. He said my hair made me taller. He said my walk made me shorter. We laughed and made a spectacle of going back to back to prove that I am still taller than him (admittedly, disputable).
Listening to this story, I was suddenly blindingly furious.
Not this war. Not my nephew.
Since I returned from Spain, I have done a decent job of continuing my news diet. In Europe, the people I was talking to were also unaware of what was happening in the world, but here in D.C., people are very informed. I get my news from the filtered views from others. I've felt disengaged regarding the presidential race, the war, George Will's latest musings, Paris Hilton. It's a funny feeling to have someone ask my opinion and realize I don't have one.
Every once in awhile I would hear or read something provocative, but my response was fairly brief and uninspired. I kept wondering when I would want to read the Post again, when I would want to listen to NPR. When would I feel some passion to pay attention?
I'd love to say that the remote evils of the world made me want to pay attention. I wish I could say that I suddenly was able to feel rage about genocide in Darfur or poverty in America. That's not what happened. A Missouri kid who grew taller than his grandfather made me care. I want that goddamn war to end because I plan to spend the next 50 or so years snarling at Rob for being taller than me.
I will not be that aunt interviewed on NPR. Actually, maybe I just will. Maybe I'll be the one talking about how I will not let my nephew die.
- ▼ August (14)