The Pale King
Lance Corporal Kylie Watson, 23, tried to resuscitate one casualty as bullets smashed into the dust around her in a totally exposed position for 20 minutes. She was also forced to use her SA80A2 rifle in anger firing 15 rounds to help defend her patrol during an ambush. The LCpl also ran 100 metres under fire to save the life of another ANA soldier who had been shot through the pelvis.
His Afghan comrades were unhappy about a woman treating the wounded man [and his pelvis] and tried to stop her. The Lance Corporal from Ballymena, who stands 5'1" tall, said: "I told them straight (through an interpreter), 'If I don't treat him, he dies.'"
The most heartening single image of the past month eclipsing even the bravery and dignity of the civilian fighters against despotism in Syria and Libya was the sight of Hoshyar Zebari arriving in Paris to call for strong action against the depraved regime of Col. Muammar Qaddafi. Here was the foreign minister of Iraq, and the new head of the Arab League, helping to tilt the whole axis of local diplomacy against one-man rule. The whole scene is especially gratifying for those of us who remember Zebari as the dedicated exile militant that he was 10 years ago, striving to defend his dispossessed people from the effects of Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons.
Can anyone imagine how the Arab spring would have played out if a keystone Arab state, oil-rich and heavily armed with a track record of intervention in its neighbors' affairs and a history of all-out mass repression against its own civilians, were still the private property of a sadistic crime family?
Among David Foster Wallace's papers at the Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin are three hundred-odd books from his personal library, most of them annotated, some heavily as if he were scribbling a dialogue with the author page by page. As others have found, it's entirely boggling for a longtime fan to read these things. I recently spent three days in there and have yet to cram my eyeballs all the way back in where they belong.
That's just the thing about recognizing our common humanity, our common burden. We're suspended for a moment on this spinning blue pearl, here together and alive right now, conscious, though no one knows why. It is a question of caring. When one of us considers the experiences of another, all the failings and the achievements in someone else's life, we are seeing from this common place, knowing that it's all taking place in doubt and the absolute solitude and terror of being human, and knowing that it's all temporary. All those who are unsure of themselves and suspect themselves of the worst falseness and wrong, bad things are to be not only pitied but loved, identified with and known. Wallace taught that, and suffered for it, and in a way he died of it, too.
With every new democracy born, with every move toward self-rule, republicanism, freedom of confession, secularism, liberty, liberalism, egalitarianism, civic virtue, and self-reliance, the world becomes more Jeffersonian. Yay.