Last night as I was drifting off to sleep it hit me. The name of the doc with the offensive (to me) literature in his waiting room is the same as the young woman killed in the Iraq war for whom our tiny little Veterans Park is named. “Could it be?” I couldn’t sleep without knowing so I did 3 minutes of research.
Anyone FROM this small town or the region would have known who that man was before they walked into that office. Of course, I COULD have known it, but it was a lot less likely.
Now my poor brain is swarming with ethical questions I can’t answer. One thing it explains why the magazines that were NOT Newsmax were veterans or patriot literature. Honestly, it’s excruciating thinking of that dad having lost his daughter. His office is two blocks from the memorial. In her name — some time back and I don’t know if it’s still active — a memorial fund-raiser to provide companion dogs to people who need them, definitely a Martha kind of charity.
I don’t think I’ll ever understand how it is to be from here and, from the first moment of your life, be SOMEBODY to the people around you. Anonymity is the name-of-the-game (ha ha) for life in the Big City.
So what we have here is a nice guy (he was very nice and personable to me on the phone) with a tragic memory and a waiting room that reflects emotions I can’t understand. Yeah, I understand grief, and I understand anger. Those are a couple of old “friends.” But what makes a person espouse the kind of stuff published in Newsmax? To make sure I knew what IS published in Newsmax I looked at it. It’s simply (from what I’ve seen) the news as reported by other agencies but with a strong, right-wing, pro-Trump spin. The news published is definitely slanted, but not really inaccurate. It’s less inflammatory than their video media. Newsmax has clung to the “big lie” only now settling a lawsuit with Dominion voting machines after suing them for fraud. Media like this furthers the “us vs. them” rhetoric that has been so destructive to the union, the “‘they’ are trying to tear down America” line. “They” is me and no one likes that.
If I hadn’t entered that waiting room with a pre-existing bias or knowledge about the genre of periodical, and I had just picked one up, I would have scoffed, but probably not been offended. I wouldn’t have thought much of the doc, though. I would have gone into the exam thinking, “Seriously?”
But what if?
Across the golf course from me is the OTHER father — Mr. M. — who lost a child in that war. I used to see him pretty often and he LOVED Dusty T. Dog. We’ve had a lot of nice conversations. Apropos of THIS story is his politics. His yard displayed one of the few Biden signs in Monte Vista. Do I think he is a “better guy” than the doc? Yeah but he probably isn’t. These are two men with broken hearts who have turned in different directions, but they are friends. The poster advertising the memorial fund for Mr. M’s son was posted on the doc’s door.
Then, of course, my own experiences with that war and its veterans. No, I didn’t lose a child, but I taught many, many young people who returned severely damaged from that debacle. I remember very well watching — with my students — that initial attack on Baghdad, the outrage I and one of my students — an Irish guy — felt and the exhilaration some of the other students felt. I remember the Navy and Marine guys who were in my class who, I knew, would be sent over there. I remember a young woman who dropped out to join the Marines. We had some intense conversations before she made that decision. She came back three years later, mobbed out for PTSD. She was so mentally addled that just a quiz in class stressed her out so bad she had migraines and uncontrollable shakes. There was the young man who served three tours as a sniper. He’d joined up with his best pal who died right beside him one night. This student was wracked by the knowledge that he had interfered in the lives of people who had every right to make their own decisions. He wrote a long long long essay detailing the changes in his mental state during the 9 years he served. “But Martha, the only job for me is probably in the Secret Service or something. The only thing I do well is shoot.”
I have more grim anecdotes about young people returning from the Iraq war and Afghanistan, but that’s probably plenty. A lot is said about the “ultimate sacrifice,” but after those experiences, I’m not sure what that is. And in these cases, these two fathers made (IMO) the ultimate sacrifice. And, unlike them I might wonder what the sacrifice was for? Maybe they wonder, too. I’m sure they’d rather have their kids.
I don’t know.
I can’t begin to figure this out. I don’t even think it’s my job. I want to find a nice anonymous optometry chain where I can be relatively sure of my values not being part of the conversation or decision.