..the powerful tripping along, blinded by their own mythology

I know everything I am supposed to know. The facts that shaped the biographies of the Middle East. I see all of it in one glance, how the borders were drawn, religion swept over deserts and through empires, colonialism came and went and came again. I’ve read the books and considered the arguments. I signed up for the listservs of professors and writers who argue over Islam’s perpetual promises and America’s eternal interests. Everybody lying; everybody failing a little, then failing some more. The powerful tripping along, blinded by their own mythology, led astray by their morals. I can see all of it. I am bogged down in facts. But here I stand among the mad and maybe that’s all it’s ever been. The Middle East goes crazy and we go along with it. So many of my generation have trooped here for these latest wars – the soldiers, the sailors, the UN workers, the State Department enfant terribles, Mad Max contractors with guns strapped to beefy thighs, the writers and volunteers and freelancers and adventure-hungry travelers. We chased it all down into the Middle East and came up dry, coughing on other people’s blood.

And now, in the depths of this war, I believe that nobody will ever see this, that Israel will never really look, and America will never really look, either. This is real to nobody. This would never be real to me if I were not here.

– Megan K. Stack, Every Man in this Village is a Liar (2010)

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