McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–“Who’s playing?” my son asked. “The Mariners and the Yankees,” I replied.
“What inning are they in?”
“I don’t know, I just turned the television on.”
“Who’s winning?” he queried. I confessed my ignorance, “I don’t know, they haven’t given the score.” Walking out of the room my son said, “Let me know as soon as they do.”
Like most Americans, my son likes to know the status of a sports event in progress. Not that knowing what team is ahead and how much time remains makes much difference in life. There is just something frustrating about watching a game and not knowing the score.
Hence the struggle many in our country seem to be having concerning the current conflict with terrorism. We want to know what the score is. What inning are we in? Who is winning? Realistically and practically, no one can adequately answer these questions right now.
War, like baseball, has a clear beginning. The game begins when the first pitch is hurled toward home plate. The “war on terrorism” commenced when hijacked jetliners were flung like guided missiles across American air space. Our leaders did not have to articulate this fact for us; emotionally we knew a war had begun.
However, while we understand clearly that we are engaged in a battle with terrorism, tracking the progress in this conflict has been frustrating at best. Unlike baseball, it has been difficult to keep score.
Who is winning in the “war on terrorism”? Depends on whose side you are on. Like it or not, the terrorists have scored repeatedly. Beyond the initial “success” of Sept. 11, those waging war with America have inflicted damage to our citizens, economy and psyche.
Nothing can diminish the loss of life that took place in the acts that ignited this war. Many still grieve the loss of love ones. However, and this is not to trivialize those who have died, the impact the terrorists have had reaches beyond the physical casualties they inflicted.
The stock market is still struggling to recover. Each day another company announces significant layoffs. Many Americans, once secure traveling by air, are turning to alternate modes of transportation. Some are just deciding not to travel. The introduction of anthrax has many scrambling for antibiotics and the possibility of further bio-terror has made gas masks a desirable fashion accessory. If “winning” means altering our way of life, the terrorists have achieved some measure of success.
America has done its share of scoring. Suspected terrorists have been arrested and others put on notice. Many subsequent terrorist plots have been foiled. The flexing of our military muscle has crippled Afghanistan. The Taliban’s ability to wage conventional war is all but destroyed. Their vulnerability to the Northern Alliance has never been more pronounced. If “success” means taking the battle to the enemy, America is moving in the right direction.
But the question remains, “Who is winning?” We want to know what the score is. More that that, we want to know clearly that we are winning, and we want to know now. We have been spoiled with fast food, speedy service and instant everything. In a word, we are impatient. The war on terrorism is going to push our limits of time tolerance.
We may have to live without knowing what the score is and what inning we are in for a while. Hall of Fame baseball player Yogi Bera once said, “It ain’t over ’till it’s over.” His words have never been more applicable than to the war on terrorism.