I have become much more politically active over the last five years. What I have learned is that it is almost impossible for me to look back at historical events and compare them with current events. When someone says Iraq is like Vietnam, or that it isn't or that it is like something else I have to completely remove myself from the debate. It isn't that I don't know any of the historical facts of the events that came before my time, I do. But I can only see an event such as Vietnam in hindsight. Maybe that is beneficial and maybe it is harmful, but it is unquestionably different from being there when an event unfolds.
The major issue seems to me to be the difference between experiencing an event over a period of time and experiencing it as whole entity only. When I read news reports, see video, or listen to speakers I can consider the implications and ramifications of each of the small pieces that become the larger puzzle when added together. Anytime I look at a historical event, the entirety is right there staring back at me. This makes it very difficult to consider all the information.
I can't help but believe that the next time our country gets itself into a mess like this I will draw on my current experience and feeling to help shape my views. I would wager that it will make me more cynical, but I can't be sure. Will this experience be helpful or harmful? I don't know, but I hope it will allow me a bit more certainty.