16 January 2008

Collapse the light into Earth

At 4 p.m., Wednesday, January 16, 1991, my manager grabbed my arm hard enough to leave bruises.

"It's started," she said, and she pulled me downstairs to the room below my office where voice talent dubbed the films for the parks. On the big screen television, I saw the legend "CNN - Baghdad. LIVE." I saw anti-aircraft tracer rounds score the night-vision green sky. I saw the screen go white as bombs exploded in the city. And as the people around me shouted and exclaimed, I sank down on the couch, nearly catatonic, and watched a war begin on a screen as big as that in a movie theater.

People I loved were in that green sky, half a world away.

People were dying down below.

In the days that followed, as this became the war the nation watched on television, I turned my back on the screen.

I did not want to lend credibility to an insane administration that would play this game with the media and with the lives of people I didn't know and with the lives of people I loved. What was at stake was far more valuable than the prize for which they played.

But more than anything, I could not bear the thought that I might see anyone--people I knew, people I didn't--die LIVE on CNN.

Time does not heal all wounds. Seventeen years later, this one lies open and fresh, as raw as the day it was made in me, as raw as the day it was made in the world.

Go listen to some good music: "Collapse the Light into Earth" from the album In Absentia by Porcupine Tree.