Friday, March 12, 2010

On Wallpaper and War

This is the current state of my kitchen:

It started with a quarter-inch curl of wallpaper that was in my line of sight every time I stood at the sink.  Why I didn't think about glue before I started pulling, I'll never know.  Secretly, I suppose, I was sick of the wallpaper anyway.  But, now, three days into the wallpaper stripping project, I am cursing myself and asking a few critical questions that I wish I'd thought about before I reached for that nagging loose corner:
  • Will the mess and laborious peeling and scraping ever be finished?  There is no short cut. Nothing makes it easy. 
  • Aack.  What's that growing under my refrigerator, which had to be moved so I could get to the wall behind it?  And, yikes!  How did all that stuff get under the oven?  Now I have to stop and CLEAN, too.  
  • Really?  You want dinner while I'm in the middle of this mess?  Are you kidding?  I can't even open the pantry door.  
  • Do I know what I'm doing?  I've managed to peel down to pieces of wall and sheet rock two-paper-layers deep, and I really have no idea how to prep for whatever is next.
Forgive me if I trivialize the real disaster that is war.  I think about the world in the middle of more ease and luxury than I deserve.  But I believe I've found a common theme between my urge to pull on a piece of wallpaper and our country's urge to show the world who's boss.

Remember 2001?  The year the wallpaper of our national security began to curl right before our eyes?  It just seemed too lazy/passive/wimpy to glue the corner down and go on about our business, quietly planning a remodel when we could afford it.  We were probably tired of the old world order anyway.  So we started yanking at the layers of dictatorial, fanatical, radical regimes in the Middle East - and we created a mess that looks like this:

Here are the questions we've had to face in the midst of the "home improvement" project we call war(s):

  • Will it ever be finished?  Nine years and counting...apparently there are no short cuts.
  •  The messes we've unearthed in the process - the poverty, the persecution, the illiteracy, the corruption, the devastation, the civilian casualties - will the unexpected consequences of our actions ever be cleaned up? 
  • Really?  You want stable economics and successful new domestic policies and a congenial Congress while two wars we began continue to drain financial and political resources?  
  • Do we really know what we're doing?  It seems we started these projects believing we'd toss the Taliban out of Afghanistan (done in 2002) and dethrone Iraq's Saddam Hussein (done in 2003) and all would be beautiful and new.  It appears we never really had a next step in mind. 
And so I have adopted a new basic rule for life - a line that must not be crossed without thinking:

Never peel a loose corner of wallpaper.  Never start a war.  

The resulting angst from either is probably more than we want, more than we planned for, and far more messy than we could have imagined. 

So I peel.  And I regret the mess.  And I long for a quick and successful path to something beautiful and new. 


1 comment:

gay said...

Excellent analogy - thank you for the perspective. Sometimes it takes the mundane - to see a larger view.