Tuesday, March 15, 2005


When I was talking about luck, I mentioned that some folks translate Urd's name as "debt or obligation." I find this notion useful. It means that none of us are born with a blank slate, but all are born with certain debts already incurred, certain obligations already waiting to be met. No one has to meet the obligations they have; they don't have to pay the debts. But if you don't take care of things, they sit out there, waiting for someone to deal with them. And your unmet obligations are handed down to the next generation and the next and the next. They don't go away, they just grow and fester. I spent my lunch hour today looking through the photos at Under Mars. If you haven't seen them, they're worth taking a look at. There are photos of soldiers dancing and laughing and playing drums. There are a lot of photos of landscapes and buildings and skies. There are also photos of dead people and body parts. Some of them have captions. Some of the captions might seem inappropriately callous or funny, but people deal with death in different ways. Anyway, the photos had me thinking about Urd again, about the debts being run up in our names over there. It's not just what we're doing to the Iraqis that concerns me, though that concerns me. It's what we're doing to ourselves. Someday, the soldiers who took photos of tanks running over dead bodies are going to come home. And they're never going to be able to unsee those things, to undo what we've asked them to do. We will have obligations to them. I hope we can meet them.


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