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[Opinion] “An Anti-War Mother”

Posted August. 22, 2005 03:11,   


“There is a problematic son, to which his mother solely sticks. […]” This is the conflict structure of “A Letter to My Parents,” a weekend soap opera on KBS-2, the second channel of Korea’s state-owned broadcasting station. Blood is thicker than water, goes the saying, but the thickness varies by relation. The man, a father of a child, does not become attached to his home. The mother of the woman—the man’s wife—feels sorry about her daughter and hates her son-in-law. The mother of the man pities her son and detests her daughter-in-law. The couple gets divorced after conflicts, but as it is a drama, the story ends with these people realizing strong love of family. Will reality be mostly like the way this story goes?

Cindy Sheehan, who has been conducting a one-person demonstration for 12 consecutive days in front of the Crawford Ranch of U.S President George W. Bush after losing her son, a Marine, in the war on Iraq, left the site when she was informed that her 74-year-old mother collapsed from a stroke. She has been showing such a strong sense of maternity that she has received international attention as the “anti-war mom” and the “mom for peace.” For her old mother, however, she might have simply been a poor daughter of hers. On her way to the Los Angeles hospital, she said that she would resume her protest once her mother got better.

While she was conducting rallies alone, her husband, who was her high school sweetheart and who has been living with her for 28 years, filed a divorce suit. He cited irreconcilable differences, but rumor has it that he might have done so in order to get government compensation and insurance payments for their son who was killed in action. The husband’s family sent an e-mail to a local newspaper that they “support the U.S. Forces in Iraq and the President of the United States,” and that they “do not agree with Cindy’s political motivations and strategies.” Even the younger son said in an interview that his mother should come back. They, who have not gone through the pains of childbirth, might have not understood her maternal love for her son.

Cindy Sheehan’s acts have received mixed judgments. Some praise her, saying that she is like Antigone, who fought against an arrogant king in an ancient Greek tragedy. They also believe that her demonstration will serve as a catalyst for accelerating the withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Iraq. Others, however, criticize that her intentions cannot be considered pure. Depending on each other’s political ideologies, values, situations and circumstances, even members of the same family have different thoughts. No one can insist that he or she is the only right person. This is the way the real world is.

Kim Sun-deok, Editorial writer, yuri@donga.com