I'm going to give away my age here. I was in my first year of university when the Gulf War began.
My first year of university was difficult for me and it took a great deal of effort for to understand and undertake what was necessary to survive my first year classes of Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Calculus - all of which I can bitterly recall had midterms all in the same week. And in the background of own personal struggles with academic life was this strange little war pounding away in the world outside.
I was too consumed with academic survival to dedicate much time and energy to understand what was going on in the Persian Gulf - and I remember feeling guilty over this fact. I remember feeling that I was inadequately armed when discussion of the subject arose amongst my fellow residence mates, many of who were not just pro-war but gung-ho war. These gung-ho types were a collection of male engineers who would spit out factoids at each other -- like numbers of fighter planes each country in the alliance had - like it was some sort of sports trivia contest. The question of whether the attacks were "just" or even "reasonable" was never addressed in these discussions.
I had nagging doubts over the whole matter. Why couldn't the United States simply say it was protecting its own interests of the oil fields of the region? How could it possibly be a war for "freedom" and "democracy" when Kuwait was closer to a monarchy and didn't even bestow the right to vote to its women? How could it even be called it a "war" when the only people getting killed were Iraqis? Why would suddenly the United States care so much about the Kurdish people? Why couldn't anyone get any hard facts about what was really going on? Why were there so few people speaking out against the war? Why couldn't I find any decent reading material that would address these concerns?
Most of the time, when you hear about a work that's called a "coming of age" novel or movie, you can generally bet that it has something to do with sex. But it can be used in another context - a political one.
My "coming of age" - politically speaking - was the Gulf War when it slowly became glaringly apparent that my nagging doubts were valid that it was not outlandish to say such things like "our
government uses propaganda".
Since then, I have tried to be critical of the mass media that I had once taken for gospel. I am cautious when the use of military force is the only considered option discussed for political problems. I go on alert anytime a government says that it takes action on my behalf for "freedom" and "democracy" and against "evil".
It is midterm week at the University where I am now employed.