I read a number of web logs, but for thoughtful comments on American life and politics, I look very often at Obsidian Wings, a group weblog designed to span the (American) political spectrum. On of the posters there, Andrew Olmsted, an officer serving in the American army in Iraq, died in Iraq at the beginning of this year.
In a wretched irony, my most recent comment to Obsidian Wings responded to the graphs of casualty figures by pointing out that you can never understand what casualty figures mean unless you know someone who has died, heard the voice now stilled, remember the friend now absent. I will miss the voice of Andrew Olmsted, a straightforward and decent man who always had something worthwhile to say.
Whether you believe making peace requires making war, or whether you believe, as I do, that the time for war has long passed, you cannot address the great issues of the time without taking personal risks. I work with people who have faced the lawlessness of occupied Baghdad and the horrors of civil war in the Congo and Colombia. Neither peacemakers nor soldiers can hope to change the world without the honour, courage and grace in the midst of misery that they (and Andrew Olmsted) showed. My condolences and prayers go out to his family.