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I just finished Anderson Cooper's book - strangely I had first thought "Anderson Cooper's story" and changed that to "book" in my head, as if somehow "story" was inferior and less true...

Anyway. I hadn't finished this one in one sitting. The first part of the book was very war, and the second part was very Katrina. I had just caught Anderson Cooper's 360 on the Afghanistan thing. Something like "The Forgotten War"? Anyway, I watched that whole thing, listening and evaluating, and wondering if I could identify the people, the places shown. Kind of glad that I couldn't, or if I did I just figured that I must have been mistaken. I really don't like the memories. Well the overall of it anyway.

I saw the program after reading all, or part of Frederick Forsyth's book The Afghan.. and as I had told Van, it is really quite disturbing that I learned a lot more about Afghanistan, the Taliban, and Al Qaeda and the histories from that fiction book than I have ever learned, even from being there and doing work where I needed to know all of that.

The latter part of Anderson Cooper's book focuses on Katrina, or rather, the aftermath thereof. Here in Hawaii... well I don't know. I know that 9/11 books don't really sell well here and I guess I figured sort of the same thing for the Hurricane Katrina books. I know that I myself was in Afghanistan when the whole Katrina thing happened, and besides a bit of news and hearing about folks from there that were allowed to leave to take care of families, it really didn't affect much at all. Snide comments were made about how screwed up everything sounded... typical government and how maybe it would have been better if maybe the National Guard was actually staying to guard their respective states rather than in a foreign country guarding no state. (Notice foreign country, not foreign countries, as Afghanistan is allowable.) When I returned here, no one was talking about it anymore. I see the books dealing with the topic on the bookshelves and wonder "Well who here buys, or will buy these books? Whatever." Putting it down to typical corporate misjudging of the situation. But Anderson Cooper brings it back... should we really just forget about stuff like that? Just ADD and turn to the newest hottest topic? People have still been affected by it. There were a lot of things to be learned from it. Etc.

Should I forget about Afghanistan, like I've been wanting to? I got chided a little from a veteran of another war - about not forgetting, because if you forget, you don't learn from it. You don't grow from the experience.

I just yelled at my mom today when she said I wasn't like a soldier at all - that I never woke up from the slightest thing when I was asleep. I yelled at her that I would hope that I wouldn't have to wake up because we were being rocketed at home. Do I have to remember all the lessons? Did I really learn anything worthwhile anyway? I thought the whole thing was a stupid farce while I was there anyway. I guess the biggest thing I took away from the experience was that the government just screws everything up and can't really help anyone... individuals have to want to help, and often individuals are the ones that make anything happen... in most cases with their own resources.

I can say that our team didn't want to be there, and so we never really thought about risking our ... anythings ... to help the people we were supposed to be helping. We just wanted to pass our days until we were allowed to go home. When restriction after restriction got passed down, we just shrugged and used that as another complaint, another excuse for not having really done anything. The new team arrived and promptly started to break all the rules. I guess they cared a heck of a lot more than we did, because we just did what we were told within the limits... all that we were really expected to do.

Sure, you want to find/kill Osama, but when you're not really equipped to do so, you kinda just say, "Well, heck with that. Let's just get home safely."

Anderson Cooper - Dispatches From The Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival
Frederick Forsyth - The Afghan

Afterthoughts: Capitalism/individualism probably breeds apathy toward fellow humans. "Well, their situation doesn't affect me, so whatever. MY money to help THEM? Hello, I got my own problems I gotta solve with that money!"