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Stalking Vol 2: The Bridge of Reason


is the means that generates events down the road: the greater good is about principles, not
numbers. The reasoned outcome is the fog of self- interest that limits our view of the true nature
of the event, and its consequences remain hidden from our self-proclaimed enlightened view."
She leaned back. "Westerner's idea of patriotism has them bowing to equally deviant versions of
duty, courage, and honor, to those of the Iranian’s religious beliefs having them sanctifying the
death of their children. The nature of both acts is to celebrate the slaughter. All arguments to the
contrary are reasoned spin based on second- hand convictions. There is no caveat—no middle
ground in ‘what is’—but survivors and the families of the dead buy into the reasoning that there
are circumstances that approve of such events, because they need these beliefs to justify the
sacrifice and placate their sense of loss."
"Can you strip down duty, or courage, or honor in the same way?" I squeezed my eyes shut,
feeling as if I was on the edge of really, really, getting it this time.
"Logically," Bonnie said, "our first duty is to learn about and assume our responsibilities for
ourselves—it’s our journey, and our parents and friends are caretakers and assistants to that
journey. When we are able, we can take care of those whom we have attached to our lives and/or
can’t properly fend for themselves. This takes great courage without giving into your own flaws
and damaging others, thereby honoring their independent path and purpose. When we can deal
responsibly with the two square feet we occupy our nation cannot help but deal with issues
responsibly, because our leaders would come from their own two square feet; they would not be
separated from us by the aphrodisiacs of power and immunity. They would understand
responsibility based on the nature of their ac tions, not based on the numbers their decisions may
immediately affect. The numbers follow as a matter of momentum.
"Good—back to celebrating the slaughter thing," I said before I lost my train of thought. "I
agree that partying after a war sucks as a 'look at what we did' kind of thing, but aren’t medals
and parades also a celebration of survival for the participants—maybe even closure to them, and
to society as a whole?" This idea prompted a related thought. "There wasn’t any celebrating at
the Vietnam Memorial."
"That wall isn’t what you think it is."
"No doubt," I sniggered. "What’s the Stalker’s version of it?"
"It is an attempt to reconstruct a national image of a just and caring people. In fact, it honors
the useless sacrifice of loved ones based on the shame of defeat, and from society throwing away
their returning veterans. It is a national memorial to carnage, and a source of sad inspiration for
generations of cannon fodder to come that will see it as an error in tactics, and not that war is
wrong in every way."
She took an elongated breath.
"It's impossible to grow from experiences not properly assessed, because you are dragging
the weight of your errors in judgment with you, and applying them to new circumstances. This is
why it's beyond America’s view that events like Vietnam represent the culmination of their
evolutionary ways. This is not closure; it is the end of a cycle in which their momentum has
caught up with itself, and now it's tearing them apart from within." Bonnie thumbed toward the
door. "Like you showed me that you are still at war with yourself."
"My core behaviors parallel America’s?"
"As do the Iranians under different auspices."
"There goes that audience."
"Joking won’t derail me: when we first met, how you relayed your stories of combat, and
your high opinions of those who participated alongside you, made it clear that your memories of
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