Sydney Leigh Fate
May 29, 1951 ~ October 3, 2002
Co-founder of The Selwa Press, a loving mother,
the lovely wife of Timothy J. Barger.
Sydney with her father, the late D.R. Fate, retired senior vice
president of Aramco
and petroleum technology adviser for Out in the Blue. Bellaire, Michigan - 1997
Ancient wisdom, stretching back before the time of Abraham to the beginning of civilized man, demands 40 days to mourn one's beloved. My beloved wife, Sydney Leigh Fate, passed away 40 days ago today and, though I find it awkward to make public my private loss, I believe that she would want me to articulate this lament and share the lesson of my grief.
It is a simple lesson. The pain of bereavement is universal. Our tears release a flood of vivid memories about so many past joys and simple moments that we now recognize as bliss. We beseech mute mercy, for but just one more moment together, and collapse into depression as hope turns into cold despair before the power of death's finality. The hardest heart could not possibly wish this misery on another blameless person.
Yet, our leaders appear unconcerned about the coming destruction of the innocent to punish a handful of guilty. Have they no hearts? Has George Bush never wept hopelessly at the grave of a loved one? Has Mr. Cheney ever walked away from a funeral in stunned contemplation of the tragedy of joy cut short? Apparently not, for these men intend to poison the reef to kill a shark and unleash our mighty legions upon an already abject and abused populace to abet their transient hallucination of empire.
They seek to make us complicit by deluding with contemptible euphemisms. The death of an American helicopter pilot is to be called, "A valiant sacrifice for freedom." The decimation of penniless villagers in an Iraqi marsh will be labeled, "Collateral damage. So sorry." The helpless descent into awful grief by the chopper pilot's young wife in Kansas is balanced by that of a dozen desolate Arab women, bereft of hope after a clever cluster bomb has ripped apart their husbands and sons. Not once during the preamble to this planned invasion have I heard any senior official allude to the lives of the Arabs and Americans that will be wasted in this adventure. Our leaders use a false, bloodless algebra to calculate gain.
Abraham Lincoln, our greatest American, presided over the most violent slaughter of human life ever witnessed on this continent. Despite what he felt was the tragic necessity of his resolve, he never failed to carry in his heart the weight of the enormous suffering it inflicted on both sides of the Mason Dixon Line. It was never, "Them or us." He knew the cost to all and bore its burden as if he were the only pallbearer at his mother's funeral. He wrote letters of condolence to Confederate widows.
Even as this great man mourned the tragedy of his duty, the halls of government swarmed with influence peddlers, grifters, the lackeys of industrialists and incipient carpetbaggers anxious to profit from the fruitful harvest of war. Today the scene is much the same. Claques of sycophants praise Mr. Bush as a great leader; some call him one of the greatest presidents ever.
Yet from my perspective, wounded and raw as an egg without a shell, I can only see in the invasion of Iraq my private grief for lovely Sydney Leigh senselessly multiplied ten thousand fold or more. I don't see bold, patriotic American leadership. I see craven politicians eager to distract us from their failures, at the price of contaminating our one hallowed and enduring legacy to mankind - we are the home of the free and the land of the brave.
I see neither freedom nor bravery in their intentions. I can only see fools that would kill the flock to slay the wolf.
Timothy J. Barger ~ 11/12/02Published in The North County Times, a regional Southern California newspaper, 12/16/02