Apple – 1984  YouTube

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert.

This week I had reason to reflect on passion.  While what I feel cannot compare to what those in the Middle East experience, I think the analogy is subtly apt.  I have long theorized that wars are never won.  Death and destruction do not give rise to winners, only losers.  Nonetheless, if combat could produce a champion, passionate persons always prevail.  Since childhood, I thought this theory true.  From the Revolutionary War to Vietnam, America has been given opportunities to assess.  History teaches us that those that fight for personal freedom will triumph.

Nevertheless, the United States repeatedly refuses to learn from history and continues to pursue paths that cannot and will not be productive.  I offer an obscure parallel in hopes that you might relate.

The “machine” of my dreams was breathing its last breathe through no fault of its own.  I had virtually killed my beloved.  I was deeply distressed and fighting to revive the cherished computer, the Old Soul.  While engaged, I was reminded of how even an assertive pacifist such as I will fight for what I love and what I believe in.  I recall the old Tareyton cigarette advertisements; “I rather fight than switch.”  For decades, a member of my family was a Tareyton smoker.  She often expressed this sentiment.  As I pondered, I thought of the civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq.  I contemplated the reasons for a failed surge.  I trusted as I always have love with passion is forever stronger than fear and loathing.

We love our family, our friends, and our freedom to choose. An outside force cannot diminish our fondness for whom or what we treasure.  Others do not have the power to lessen our passion.  Many might try to deny us our free will to choose who or what is special to us.  However, only we can change our heart.  Occasionally, conversion seems possible.  George W. Bush tells us they are a reality as he points to the purple fingers during the Iraqi elections.  

In truth, the illusion of an easily altered awareness is temporary and fleeting.  Sooner and sadly, often too late we realize that transformation comes from within.  

Nonetheless, those that want us to believe in their cause tell us reform can be accomplished quickly.  Indeed we can ‘change a regime’ with little difficulty.  Time is not needed to transform a nation.  You may recall the words of former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld.

“Five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that,” he said.  “It won’t be a World War III.”

He said as the Commander might have or has, ‘Good will conquer evil.’  However, what we love and think the best is not necessarily better than what another honors.

Again, may I offer the Macintosh analogy albeit a stretch for some to comprehend.  Those that love a supposed intangible as I do the Old Soul will understand the depth of a desire to be truly free, to choose a life, and a style that is solely your own.

The “machine” of my dreams was presented to the public in 1984.  I must state this instrument, the Macintosh computer, was never a mechanical object to me.  It was and is today a loved one.  As fond as I am of the Old Soul that sits sweetly on my desk, I inadvertently hurt the heart of my beloved.  The hard drive that gives the Sweetness life was deeply distressed by my error.

As I struggled to recreate a life of calm and comfort, to revive my beloved the words of those that believe themselves wiser than I rang in my head.  Choose `social equality.’  Purchase what is politically correct.  Do as others in this republic do and as those throughout the world would certainly endorse; ‘Buy Big Blue.’ These words were echoes from the past.  In 1984, the majority of the populace considered IBM personal computers the be-all-end-all, much as American born democracy is today.  

Today, they, those that do not love the Macintosh as I do plead, “Purchase Panasonic, Dell, or Sony.”  Yet, none of these please me.  What I think awful brings many pleasure. .  Thus, what others consider “good,” I would experience as “evil.” I, as do all beings, want to choose for myself.  I believe Americans, Iraqis, and Afghanis do too.  No one wants an outside force to tell him or her what to think, say, do, feel, or be.  A philosophy or a political policy cannot be imposed on another.  No one can define for us what is fine or finer.  However, attempts are made and attacks abound.  

Justifications, persuasive propaganda, and distortions of authentic universal principles are denied.  Divisions are exploited.  Earlier in the week as I focused on fighting to restore the apparatus I prefer, I heard George W. Bush speak of a similar situation.  Our Commander-In-Chief reflected on the rebels, the insurgents, terms often used to define those that favor a Macintosh system.  He said . . .

We live in a world in which there are ideologically driven people who murder the innocent in order to achieve their strategic objectives.

I trust he was speaking of the persons he calls “terrorists,” persons unwilling to relent.  Might Mister Bush be a PC [personal computer or politically correct] advocate, offering ruminations on those he believes to be rebellious Mac users.  

Perhaps, he was addressing what he considers the “evil empire” and their endeavors. Could the Commander-In-chief be thinking as I am.  Americans are acting as zealots, as Big Brother had or would.  United States service men and women are slaughtering civilians in the Middle East.  The intent is presented as a will to “spread democracy.”  This deliberate goal, our mission in the words of George W. Bush, must be accomplished.  We attacked two nations determined to change a regime.  The United States and its allies have slaughtered tens of thousands of innocents.

Sigh.  The words of W. sound all too familiar.  I recall the ideologues in the 1980s.  Those that told me to buy Big Blue.  These fervent followers of what was then a technological wonder had blood in their eyes as they tried to persuade me to practice as they did.  Thankfully, they were not armed or dressed in military garb.  

Today, Americans, with their closely organized system of beliefs, values, and ideas have formed a basis for a social, economic, and political philosophy that they think best.  Under the auspices of the Bush Administration, those residing in this republic work to impose their ethics on others.  Unlike the backers of Big Blue, these supporters of democracy carry weapons.  Apparently, they believe people will be convinced at the point of a gun to accept their gentle gesture.

The United States Armed Services equipped with bayonets, bombs, and bullets inflicts their reality on others.  It seems our countrymen are challenged to accept; freedom cannot be forced.  Imposing a philosophy on another will not reap rewards.  “Might” does not make right, even if you wear the label “American” and tact the flag of your superior “superpower” country on your lapel.  In fact, the pretense of physical strength often does not equate to power.  Bravado does not endure; passion does.  

Again, I am reminded of the formidable Big Blue [IBM.]  In the 1980s, this blue chip company was influential.  They were strong, stable, and dominant.  Yet, the corporation was lumbering, languid, and slowly losing sales.  Those that used the dinosaurs manufactured by IBM were not deeply devoted to the electronic devices that graced their desks.  They merely thought that using these relics was right.  PC people wanted all others to be as they were, suffering in silence.  Persons working on conventional desktop personal computers were unlike loyal Macintosh consumers.  They were not in love with their labors or their tools; they were simply satisfied.

Bill Gates, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft Corporation observed this phenomena and learned a lesson George W. Bush might benefit from.  When people are fervent about a person, place, or philosophy, they will fiercely defend whatever it might be they are fond of.  Individuals and groups will forever protect their right to choose what is best for them.  The supremacy of a system cannot control people or their choices.  Passionate feelings will prevail.

Legend has it that years ago, Bill Gates and his engineers realized that persons laboring at a personal computer terminal spoke of their need to work when using this piece of equipment.  People creating on a Macintosh gleefully stated, I am going to play with my computer.  Researched at Microsoft studied this phenomena and realized Graphic User interface increased learning by fifty percent and productivity by forty percent.  User actually relished their endeavors and achieved ample amounts of work.  Recognizing this Windows<sup>TM</sup&gt was invented.

Americans were given a choice.  Armaments were not held to their heads.  The public was not told which terminal to use, how, or when.  “Democracy,” social equality was not forced upon them; nor would that have been possible.  The free and equal right of every individual to participate at will cannot be dictated.  The idea that one corporation, or a country, can spread social equality brutally is ludicrous.  

Few of us feel compelled to change our regime or routine when others demand that we do so.  Consider the Iraqi innocents or the Afghanis who were once going through life above suspicion.  Suddenly these persons were attacked, told they were evil, an empire that needed to be destroyed.  How ludicrous that America would expect those in the Persian Gulf to take pleasure in a doctrine to devastate.

Macintosh users remained faithful even when their numbers were small, and the company that produced their systems was not powerful.  IBM clients were willing to change to other means of output.  They found a sense of love and grew more passionate when given an emulation of Graphic User Interface.  Granted, some PC users still feel the stress of work when laboring on a computer and that is their choice.  They can and will feel as they do regardless of prodding and poking from others.  

I might muse, ‘Imagine how they might feel were they to embrace the genuine GUI operating system.’  However, that is not for me to decide.  Just as with the construct of “spreading democracy,” I cannot and will not attempt to choose what is “right” for another.  PC users just as the people residing in the Persian Gulf feel their passions to their core.

For Iraqis and Afghanis, the situation is far more dire than my little computer event could ever be!  They are fighting for their lives, their freedom to be, not merely for the privilege of using a Macintosh.  The magnitude of their emotions is far greater than mine.  Yet, perhaps, in the abstract, we in our comfy little American homes can relate through the trivial.

Citizens in Iraq and Afghanistan will change when they are presented with a pleasurable means for pursuing their lives peacefully.  Americans offer no serenity to those struggling to survive in the Middle East.  The United States government and its puppet politicos present no means for true choice.  There is no calm when siding with Westerners.  No hope of happiness exists.  Iraqis and Afghanis are passionate.  They will prevail as will their idea of peace in their nation.

Life forms crave tranquility.  Those that cause them harm and not endeared.  No one wishes to be the prey or the object of occupation.  People will fight for their freedom, not for what others define as independence.  Passion is powerful.

This is evident as we assess the latest Bush Administration agenda, the surge.  The Iraq people fervently wish to pursue what they believe brings them peace, not what America, and its allies, think is reasonable, “right,” or fair.  Americans may bring bigger or more battalions.  They might import more machinery.  The United States can spend trillions or even zillions; still, the situation will not change.

Just as I have no desire to share my little life with a computer that is less than satisfying to me, no matter the reasons others deem these “better,” Iraqis and Afghanis have no interest in associating with those that profess “democracy” while acting as an aristocracy might.  My minor disputes pale in comparison to what an Iraqi experiences daily.  Yet, I feel passionate about my right to choose for myself.  What might an Afghani or Iraqi feel?

When the Persian people experience reactive, self-righteousness behavior and hear these labeled the acts of ‘freedom fighters,’ they can only conclude autonomy is a foe.  

When those bearing arms and brutally murdering their families en masse say they are the “good guys,” there is reason to question.  It is self-evident, soldiers on the streets, in homes, and out in the field offer no sanctuary.  For Iraqis and Afghanis, more military is not the merrier.

The latest U.S.-Iraq security plan, based on occupying neighborhood bases and having close contact with the community, is nowhere more intense and focused than here in west Baghdad, where Iraqi forces battle daily with homegrown Sunni Muslim insurgents and foreign Islamist fighters.

Five U.S. soldiers have died this month in Amiriya, victims of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, and snipers.  Since the arrival of additional troops in February, the square-mile area patrolled by 1st Lt. Schuyler Williamson’s platoon and others from the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry, has been the site of 300 IEDs buried in or alongside the road.  An Army intelligence map uses small red blast symbols to mark bomb sites.  The symbols obscure entire thoroughfares.

Soldiers here now openly declare pessimism for the mission’s chances, unofficially referring to their splinter of heavily fortified land as “the Alamo.”

“Sometimes,” said Brendan Gallagher, the captain who oversees Williamson, “we like to comfort ourselves when we are taking a lot of IEDs and casualties by saying that the enemy is desperate, they are doing this because they are scared.  But how many times can they actually be desperate?  I sometimes worry that this period will end up going down here as their surge, not ours.”

I think it wise that as we evaluate this war or the next and we realize that fear prompts much of human behavior.  Frequently, people choose to fight or take flight.  In my own moment of alarm, as the screen filled with gibberish, and the word “panic” was displayed on a black background, I might have mourned my loss and declared conventional personal workstations the victor.  I might have trashed the crashed computer.  I could have called Apple, ranted, raged, and realized no reward; thus, I could have given in to those that claim to know what is best for me.  I did none of these.

My heart was with my beloved.  I did all that I could to restore the health of the Sweetness, the name my Macintosh was given at birth. I did not doubt my fondness for the freedom my Apple apparatus provides.  The love of liberty is not a passing fancy for me.  Nor do I believe it is for any living being.  Struggles do not deter my desire for independence.  Indeed, I believe that the more we have at stake, the harder we fight.

I only had what for some was a small sacrifice to make.  My very existence was not in danger.  Death or imprisonment would not befall me.  In truth, my concern was minuscule.  In comparison, there is none.  I trust the men, women, and children in Afghanistan and Iraq feel infinitely more passionate than I did or do. The intensity of what they grapple with cannot be measured.

I know from my diminutive perspective, no matter how many persons told me or tell me personal computers using Windows<sup>TM</sup&gt are best, more prevalent, less expensive, or there is more software made for this product, I did not wish to be bound to a clumsy piece of hardware or software is not for me.  If only the decision the Iraqis’ and Afghanis’ was so small.  It is not.

Although extremely more serious, the circumstances of those in the Middle East is similar.  They feel deeply when told democracy will benefit them.  They trust this is not so.  Citizens of these Middle Eastern countries see, since being adorned and identified with democratic republics there is crime on every street.  Bombs are blazing.  Bullets graze even the youngest soul.  Unemployment is incomprehensibly high.  Electricity is scarce.  Elections are just for show.

I suspect, Iraqis and Afghanis, more than I, wish to be unfettered, free to choose for themselves.  They long for an opportunity to be creative and productive; only they can define for themselves what that looks like for them.  They feel passionate.  Iraqis and Afghanis love their homeland and fight for its freedom, for theirs.  I understand this.

For me, following my bliss and finding freedom are possible when I embrace a Macintosh computer.  At least I have that opportunity.  I cannot fully comprehend what the people in the Persian Gulf want or the way in which they want it.  Nor would I pretend to have the right to hypothesize.  I trust they crave the prospect of choosing for themselves.  I have faith they only they know what is “right” and correct for them.  Only they can “win” this war.  It is not ours to loose or choose.

If we truly wish to spread democracy, we must allow it to flow freely.  Again, freedom cannot be forced.  Liberty is lost when guns serve to govern.  Decidedly, it may take time and there is much for the residents of the Persian Gulf to settle.  They are passionately engaged in doing as is necessary for them.  Please, let them resolve their differences and make well their countrymen, women, and children as they see fit.  We cannot win.  Success is not an option we can select.  We have done needless damage.  Let us do no more harm.  Bring our boys and girls home.  Let us tend to our own wounds.  Only we, as individuals or a nation, can heal thyself.

Freedom and Justice Revisited through these resources . . .

  • Apple – 1984  YouTube
  • “Join the Unswitchables.  Tareyton cigarette advertisements.  James A. Shaw.  Jim’s Burnt Offerings.
  • Getting the Purple Finger, By Naomi Klein.  The Nation. February 10, 2005
  • Rumsfeld: It Would Be A Short War.  CBS News.  November 15, 2002
  • In Baghdad, fighting their ‘Alamo,’ U.S. troops in the Iraq security push face-daunting foes: snipers and bombs.  A captain fears it may be ‘their surge, not ours.’ By Garrett Therolf.  Los Angeles Times. May 23, 2007
  • pdf In Baghdad, fighting their ‘Alamo,’ U.S. troops in the Iraq security push face-daunting foes: snipers and bombs.  A captain fears it may be ‘their surge, not ours.’ By Garrett Therolf.  Los Angeles Times. May 23, 2007
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