I feel my throat swelling. It's getting painful to talk. I would gladly trade this for the fever of a few nights ago; at least a sweaty night of chills and broiling brains gives me a sense of inner comfort. I can deal with discomfort if I feel like my body's fighting back. Right now I feel I'm losing. I hate not being able to deal with this shit on my own.
It's an interesting realization of a grim thought that I had last night, a thought that accompanied a pain that defied all behind-the-counter painkillers. I thought that I should cut my tongue out for all its use to me, if I can't find a way to persuade a mild, curious adolescent to find some other path than to take money in exchange for training and being placed in a position to murder other human beings.
I can't even say it straight. As I rolled under the sheets, wishing I'd opted for nice green noxious NyQuil-D, I wished I could call him a victim, wished I could take his agency away so I didn't have to call him what he's willing to become: a mercenary. Are those the choices? Victim or villain? For me, right now anyway, there's no other way to see it. I refuse to play the polite game of the liberal working classes and imagine some war in which the whole structure would be justified. The need is not there. The danger is not there. And a man who murders human beings for coin is not made more sympathetic for lack of options... At least whores only poison themselves.
What power do I have here? I know the myth of control is foolish and destructive. I know I don't make others' minds up for them. I know the limit of my power... Then why act at all? And why do I seem to only have power when it doesn't matter to me? Are the Christians and Buddhists somehow actually right about something? Is this some nihilist universe in which the most empty acts are the only ones that succeed? Why is it that I can help some people see what's inside them and now I can say nothing that matters, point out no conflict worth settling? Have I ever really changed anyone's mind? Are the mechanics just hidden from my eye and it's been arrogance all along that gave me credit?
Maybe he hungers for war. I sure as hell do. I just never fooled myself that the war for which I wait was the one I'd be fighting if I took their money and their kit and their orders.
But if I'm so smart, why can't I use the man's pacifism to challenge his desire to belong, his desire to get away from the hassle of family.... If I'm so smart, why can't I do a goddamned thing? Not the right type of relationship? A little bit too old to be sympathetic? I'm smart enough not to push, smart enough to be an older friend but never an authority, never a Because I Said So, but I'm not smart enough, or something enough, to do anything more than watch.
Going down to work with his aunt for a few weeks, I believe he said. Coming back up and going back to the fucking Marine recruiter. He knows they lie. He knows it's a one-sided contract. He says he doesn't even agree with the course of these occupations, laid down when he was a boy. But none of it matters. I think he's trying to impress some girl. I think he wants a family not of his birth. I think he's made up his mind. And that's stronger than anything anyone else can provide. His parents say they accept it. I think they've reached the point where they acknowledge the limit of their power. So why am I bothered by this?
The personal side of it troubles me more, but there's nothing to do but mourn it. The personal side of it's mine to worry about. But isn't this a philosophical issue, too?--and it reinforces the personal sense of impotence, shame, and futility, which is all the better--doesn't it mean that there's no fucking point to any of this, to all the soapboxing and deliberation and scribbling and pondering and debating and "proving" and considering and theorizing, if I can't persuade even one kind-hearted young man who doesn't support the wars to turn down their money and refuse to kill those who have no conflict with him or his loved ones? If I cannot speak to the willing and sympathetic about the greatest human rights issue of our age, then what good am I?