Over there? Or right here

As any soldier would tell you, “over there” suddenly becomes right here, right now, part of the fight for America. A false notion of distance of “over there” fosters the luxury of waiting until we are forced to join either through economic necessity or a culmination of guilt over the fate of our neighbors. In WWII we waited beyond Czechoslovakia and Poland, past the invasion of France and Dunkirk, beyond the slaughter in Nanking, overlooking Kristallnacht and, not least, the Blitz. It took an act of aggression against us in Hawaii for us to finally enter the WWII fray.

Actually, this notion of disconnected-ness with events over the horizon is lazy and dangerous. We think if we wait long enough, maybe the problem will resolve itself. But in this age of communication, we no longer have the argument of ignorance of horrible events. The truth of the concentration camps was written in the Daily Telegraph in 1938, yet our media largely ignored it and America slumbered on. All the evidence of 9/11 was there for us to see; propaganda and desire laid out by our enemy who relied on our inability to want to comprehend the real world in which we all live.

Wake up America. We all live here on this planet, we are all connected and, therefore, interact. There are no Pakistanis or North Koreans who do not affect your lives. There are no Malays or Argentineans who cannot ripple the surface of your existence. There are no Colombians or Chinese who cannot seek to alter our way of living, good or bad.

We cannot expect someone “over there” to be so far out of sight to be out of our mind. Simply, they are not. They connect to us by the products they manufacture, the goods they consume, the media we broadcast, our religions we share or are in conflict with, the culture they adopt or reject from us, and, not least, their socio-political systems that must interface with ours. Further, on our side, we cannot expect to develop any worthwhile point of view of who they are, unless we go “over there” and experience, learn and share their culture, needs, political systems and lifestyle.

Can anyone imagine a current war with England or Italy or France? Why not? Because we understand them, even if, at times, we do not agree. But when we were ignorant of them, when we considered them to be “over there,” we were perfectly capable of thinking of them as the enemy, as foreign, as untrustworthy. Tourism, post-WWII travel, has changed all that centuries-old mistrust into respect, even if we don’t always see eye to eye.

People looking at the Palestinian and Israeli conflict tend to see it as people wearing either white or black hats, either side seemingly swapping off from age to age. After WWI the protectorate of Palestine was formed. After WWII, with no home of their own, the displaced Jews of Europe turned to their biblical homeland and became terrorists against the British, killing and maiming hundreds of innocent civilians in the process of securing the State of Israel. In turn, the Palestinians now want their land back, so they wreak their havoc on the Israelis in a tit-for-tat reckoning of Draconian proportions.

Why do we need to hear about all that violence, and what does it mean to us anyway? Isn’t it “way over there?”

It is not. It is on our doorstep. It is in every box of Kellogg’s you buy, the gas you put in your car, the books you buy your kids, the air you breathe, the security you enjoy. We just need to wake up and learn not to repeat the errors we made in 1914 and 1939 as we turned our back on allies and friends, fellow humans. What goes on “over there” can simply travel around the globe and settle into rural America with devastating results.

Peter Riva, a former resident of Amenia Union, now lives in New Mexico.

Latest News

Fall's Village Selectmen appoint Dick Heinz to Housatonic River Commission

The Fall's village Board of Selectmen met Monday, July 8.

Archive photo

FALLS VILLAGE — At the July 8 meeting for the Board of Selectmen, the board accepted the resignation of Matt Gallagher as an alternate on the Housatonic River Commission and appointed Dick Heinz to the position.

The selectmen voted to send $1000 from federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to the Northwest Connecticut Transit District.

Keep ReadingShow less
Summer sizzle puts trout in hot water

This smallmouth bass ignored the tempting green Gurgler and instead took a reverse-hackle wet fly typically used in Tenkara angling. Fish are funny that way.

Patrick L. Sullivan

The dog days have arrived.

This phrase refers to the summer, which brings heat, which makes trout unhappy.

Keep ReadingShow less
Cool coffee granitas

Second helpings of coffee granitas are usually required.

Eliza Osborne

As I write, it is about a thousand degrees. And said to be staying there as we slog through this existential climate change, which I believe used to be known as summer. I was going to write about new and exciting developments in the pizza world, but probably no one south of the Nordkapp is going to turn on an oven much before October if this keeps up. So pizza will have to wait for who knows when, and, instead, I’ll offer something that’s really cold, really easy, and really good. You’ll love it, I promise.

Hang on a minute, I have to go open the refrigerator door and lie down on the floor in front of it for a while first. Be right back . . .

Keep ReadingShow less
Norfolk Artists & Friends annual exhibit returns

Norfolk Artists & Friends founder Ruthann Olsson.

Jennifer Almquist

For the past 17 years, a community of artists have shown a visual feast of their paintings, sculpture, jewelry, photography, and decorative arts in an annual exhibition in Norfolk.

Following tradition, more than thirty members of Norfolk Artists & Friends (NAF), a membership organization of professional artists, will be showing their artwork this summer in a group exhibit at the Art Barn Gallery on the Battell Stoeckel Estate in Norfolk from Aug. 1 to 4. The show is sponsored by the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival – Yale School of Music, to which 15% of the sales is donated.

Keep ReadingShow less