Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A question for a politician

When I was very young, 3rd grade perhaps, there was an assembly at my school. A local politician - he may have been very local or maybe even as high up as our Virginia Beach congressional representative - came to speak to us about politics and what it was like to hold a job like his. I don't remember too much about it, but there is one part that I remember that just randomly popped into my head and I felt like blogging about it.

Now keep two things in mind about this:
  1. I was very young. I already said that.
  2. I am already mortified about this story but I'm trying to get past my embarrassment and I wanted to tell it anyway. So go easy on me.

So the guy gives his talk and then asks if there are any questions. I decided to ask one. This is what came out of my mouth: "Why do you go to war?"

Now, one of the things that has always bothered me about this event, besides my lack of preparation in formulating the question, was how this guy dealt with me. I think that as poorly as my question was worded, it should have been reasonably clear what I was getting at, this gangly 8-10 year old kid, asking a question to a adult stranger while surround by 300 of his peers, especially since this guy was a politician.

He answered me back with something to the effect of, "I've never been in a war." That was it; ball in my court.

I quickly revised my question to, "Why do you vote to go to war?" Again, this was somewhere in the neighborhood of 1980-1983 and there were no wars going on. Maybe I was thinking about the Falkland Islands conflict - who knows. Again, there should have been something that this guy could've seized on to talk about instead of humiliating me in front of the entire school. Politicians all the time give answers that are in no way related to the questions asked. Finally this guy said something about something and moved on, but I wasn't listening, for the sound of blood rushing in my temples.

The upshot is this: I've never understood war, and I still don't. Thanks a lot, Mr. Politician.

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