Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Thinking of Jill Carroll

I don't know why I can't get her out of my mind. You all know the story. She's a reporter for the Christian Science Monitor. She was abducted in Baghdad a few weeks ago by a group calling itself the Revenge Brigade, and her captors said that they would kill her by January 20 if female prisoners held by U.S. and Iraqi forces weren't released. We of course "don't negotiate with terrorists" and maybe -probably- we shouldn't. As of January 28, she was apparently still alive.

Maybe the problem is that she's not that much older than my own children. The pain her parents must be feeling.... the desperation... the mind can hardly take it in. And then of course, there's her fear and desperation. But of course, there are other people being held unjustly, here and abroad. I care. Of course I care. But for some reason, Jill Carroll has captivated me.

A quick blog search reveals that people are trying to interpret the meaning of her abduction -and as a general premise I have to applaud the idea of trying to make meaning from tragic events. But there's nothing even approaching consensus. Her abduction either means that we should fight longer and harder -and extend the fight to include all Muslims. (Yes, that opinion is really out there.) Or, it means that the United States is completely wrong and if we had acted justly, this would never have happened. And everything in between.

Here's all I have. We care about Jill Carroll more because we've seen her. I don't have a television, and I've seen her, so everyone else must be inundated with images. If the White House were allowing us to see the images of the caskets of returning soldiers, we'd care about them more, too. As it is, we have death-toll numbers (about 2 American soldiers each day.... two's not so bad, surely, says our gullible subconscious) and the occasional retrospective on NPR of a young, dead-too-soon soldier's life. Can it really be true that there's a policy of not wanting us to care about these young men and women? That's rhetorical. Of course, it can really be true. If we cared, we'd be protesting this war in even more convincing numbers -and the numbers are pretty damn convincing as it is.

And then there are the inherent risks of being a story and truth-teller in any culture. What Ms. Carroll did -and does- is encourage us to "take the position of the other". To look at this war from the Iraqi point of view. We humans aren't nice to the idealists in this world; their fates are often...well... this. But oh how we need them.

I don't know what else to do, other than hold her in my heart. The Christian Science Monitor posts a daily update as to her fate, here: Jill Carroll update

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