COMMENTARY: How does one explain the feeling and sensation of war?

Have you ever been lost in a dream, wandering endlessly through the corridors of time, glimpsing at images in mirrors of unremembered faces and places? Have you ever felt the coldness of a stare or an unwanted glance that told you more than words could ever say? Have you ever felt alone in the middle of a crowd and wondered why no one seemed to care?

These are the eclipsing vestiges of life betrayed and life revealed through glimpses of reality and fantasy. It is the revelation of our existence disguised in dreams and visions of yesterdays and days to be.

It is the senselessness of war that captures the lonely hearts and fractured minds of boys and men, and extinguishes the brilliance of the human soul and smothers the resonance and breath of unlived dreams. It is the madness of war that forever stains the sensations and the passions that once defined the essence of our being.

Soldiers never ask the reason why. Soldiers simply march into the shadows and darkened fields of war — some to die upon a battlefield, others to return and live a thousand days of death inside their fragile and brittle minds.

Once we cherished the memories of our lives; now we dread the visions and sounds that war has etched upon our minds. And we find ourselves lost in dreams. Wondering endlessly through the corridors of time, until the senselessness and madness finally drain our exhausted minds, and finally take our breath away.

I have lived through war; it is a hard feeling and sensation to explain, and even harder to relive again and again.

And yet, once again, I find myself lost in a dream — or is it a nightmare? This time, the enemy is not camouflaged behind bamboo or iron curtains that once divided our humanity. This time, the enemy is not roaming the deserts or jungles of far-off lands, or entrenched along the shores of forgotten beaches or abandoned battlefields. This time, the enemy is cloaked by the diabolical and demonic rantings of an abhorrent mind, and enabled and empowered by frenzied and imprudent minions, desperate to belong, anxious to be led, and willing to bow down.

I would never have imagined that I would have to defend our American Dream against a president and his followers who espouse ideas and ideals so foreign to our national psyche and our moral consciousness. How can one aspire to the greatness that was America, when we have to cope with outlandish and unfathomable conspiracy theories and fabricated smears, slurs and slanders from the one man and the one administration that are supposed to inspire us, lead us, and be the standard bearer of our conduct and our image?

How can anyone support the very enemy we have feared and fought against since the inception of our great nation? Today, the enemy looks like us, but does not think like us, does not feel like us, does not believe like us. The problem is that the enemy is our neighbor, our friend, our brothers, our sisters, and the strangers we see and hear each day. They are the enemy within. An enemy that has betrayed the best of who we were, an enemy that has deceived and deluded the great treasures of our past and is determined to extinguish the light and the passion that was America.

War, any war, is a betrayal of our nobility, our dignity, our decency. America is experiencing a second Civil War. And just like the last Civil War, this war is also about keeping a nation together, and about unshackling ourselves from the obscenity of festering hate, bigotry and injustice. This time, the guns of war have been replaced with the ballot box. This time, it is a fight for a free and fair election. It is a showdown of right over might, and truths over lies. A fight to restore the integrity of our democracy with our election — with all the flaws, faults and blemishes that have made it an American tradition and an American legacy to the world.

Our first Civil War ended at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, in 1865. This second will end at post offices and ballot boxes across our nation on Nov. 3. One Hundred and Fiftyfive years apart, and the stakes are still the same — the preservation of one nation under God, and one rainbow coalition of native Americans and immigrants, all seeking to breathe free.

So, how do I explain the feeling and sensation of war? Wars are better fought at the ballot box than on battlefields. I have fought both types of wars. And I have found that wars fought with bullets kill the human spirit, while wars fought at the ballot box inspire and motivate the human soul, if unhindered by greed, deceit or the arrogance of power.

Register to vote — Republican, Democrat or independent. Let the voice of freedom ring, and then listen to the rhythm and the harmony of a nation united, a nation unshackled from the uncertainty and insecurity of betrayal or denial. Let us see the torch passed forward again. Unfettered by ego, arrogance or greed, but highlighted by the eloquence of our democracy.

Al Garcia lives in Palm Valley.