"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Shooting stars

Well, there's been little to report because little out of the ordinary has been going on here the last few weeks. The day guys go out and fly their missions, and then the sun sets and every few days (or nights, "days" for me since I'm up for 14 hours, but . . . I'm not going to explain it anymore, because it makes my head hurt and my brain is starting to reject the programming) I launch and spend a few hours staring at the green world around me through my goggles. Last night was about as uneventful as it gets, especially considering we went out on an eastern route we're not allowed to fly during the day that takes us within sight of the lights of Baghdad. And lights there are, in the city itself and extending north along both the rivers that run through it. Mesopotamia is lit up like a Christmas tree (or the hajj equivalent, this time of year) through our night vision goggles, though not like cities and towns back are at home. At home, urban centers are these big blobs through the goggles, sometimes big and sometimes small, but generally kind of circular in shape. Out here, night shows you how much of a river culture Iraq truly is: cultural lighting is almost continuous as it spreads out along the rivers from the seat of the old caliphate, but it rarely extends more than a half-mile from either river-bank.

The night sky is also a veritable blaze of light, given that we rarely see clouds and there's nothing on the horizon to obstruct one's view. Sure, it's all green in the NVGs, but you can see thousands more stars than back in the real world, and the goggles help amplify the light from shooting stars that you'd never see unaided. Last night they were falling everywhere, the bigger ones leaving a trail of fire in the heavens that lingered on our artificial eyes. It was a night where little on the ground (except the landing phase) was as interesting as the patterns on the tapestry above.

2 comments:

CSB said...

Mighty fine poetry there, Shakespeare.

CSB said...

P.S. Perhaps you should subtitle this one something about "counting Abraham's descendants."

(Genesis 22, Exodus 36. Descendants also numbered like "dust of the earth" spread in every direction at Genesis 28-- bet you can relate to that too.)