Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Enjoy the game but not the war

Each year at this time I remind fellow Oregonians that war involves maiming, misery and death.

Why do I do this?

Because each year, Oregonians, without pausing, refer to their intra-state rivalry as “The Civil War.” (Surely there is a better name. Suggestions?)

The "Civil War tradition" and casual usage of the name lead to such things a “Civil War Appetizers and Main Dishes” (vis. Today’s Oregonian food section.)

The list of “Civil War” paraphernalia, oddities and trivia goes on and on.

So here’s my reminder: the American Civil War (1861-1865) never came with appetizers and main dishes.

Nor did it involve split ends, cheerleaders (with or without split ends) and tailgaters.

The Civil War did come with death; 620,000 soldiers (the most of any American war) were killed. Hundreds of thousand were maimed. Divisions from the American Civil War remain to this day.

You might give our Civil War history passing thought as you settle into the Oregon State/University of Oregon football game Thursday. When “The Civil War” is mouthed — and it will be endlessly and mindlessly—allow the horror of real civil war to flicker ever-so-briefly across your mind.

That number again is 620,000 dead.

If you are having trouble wrapping your head around it, here’s help: the statistic is the equivalent of every man, woman and child in Portland and Beaverton.

And if you think that’s bad, the Russian Civil War (1917-1923) claimed between 15 million and 20 million lives. A staggering toll.

That’s what civil wars can do.

Now go back to the game and your Civil War cheese dip….

P.S. To readers tempted to write "lighten up" or "get a life," save yourself the trouble. You've been heard in advance. Peace.

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Anonymous Jay T. said...

Your point is taken well by this sports fan, Rick. Thank you for the reminder.

The reason I like the name given to this football game is that it's an oxymoron.

In war there is nothing pertaining to the sense of civil as, "not rude; marked by satisfactory adherence to social usages."

I especially found this year's reactions to my green and yellow clothing (in the midst of this black and orange town) to be good natured and appropriate. We had fun learning about this at the elementary school where I work.

from Duck Out of Water, as I refer to myself on the sporting blogs

7:52 AM  

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