We watched Wonder Woman last night. I was very disappointed by the movie. On a technical level, the clearly CGI graphics/scenery in the beginning was too cartoonish, and the sappy music going on in the background the entire time was awful, like watching a DePalma or Spielberg movie where they don’t trust the audience to feel their own emotions. Then, on a story level, having Wonder Woman lead a platoon of soldiers where she was directly involved in killing scores of young soldiers (not mercenaries or evil Nazis) was disappointing and even disturbing. Then from a feminist perspective Wonder Woman was treated as an underling or comically naïve subservient woman for much of the film. It was an awful film and a waste of $5.
We watched the Oscar Nominated documentary shorts yesterday, and 3 of the 5 films were about Syria. In one of the films, the Greek coast guard is helping rescue the boatload of Syrian refugees risking their lives to cross the Aegean Sea towards Europe. In the second, we see a family whose father is killed and migrates to Turkey then Germany. In the third, we see the volunteers who rescue people whose buildings are blown to bits by the airstrikes.
This compelled me to read about what is happening in Syria. From what I see, in 2011 Syrians rose against their restrictive government. Soon, a full blow Civil War materialized. There are government loyalists, Free Syrians who want a free Syria, ISIS, and other groups all fighting. And, of course, other countries such as Russian and the US are contributing. Syrians are getting killed, buildings are getting blown to bits and it looks like an absolute war zone, with the people of Syria caught in the middle.
What I saw from the movies and what I sense from my reading is that the Syrians are not diabolical terrorists but people fleeing a worn torn country much as people fled Europe in the 1940s. Why the heck aren’t we the US not allowing them in? We took in countless Vietnamese in the 1970s, which is great – why won’t we take in the Syrians now? Might there be a terrorist or two in them? Sure, maybe a bad apple or two. But we have domestic terrorists, too (Boston Marathon bombers, the many school shooters, etc.). For god sake, let the people in. Show some compassion like I’d love to have compassion if Trump Supporters and Hilary Supporters were blowing up my neighborhood.
I loved those three films. They showed the humans behind the news headlines. And if we want to make America great again, instead of blowing the heck out of neighborhoods how about we show a little compassion.
I was teased a lot as a kid.
I was short, very skinny and extremely hyper (when Oprah ran a special on Attention Deficit Disorder, several friends called to say I had ADHD 🙂 ).
But something happened late in my teen years. I grew overnight to 5’11”, put on 30 pounds of muscle so I was trim instead of skinny, and calmed down. I started dressing more stylishly. Even my facial features changed (Wife M looks at pictures of me and says she can’t believe it is the same person). Personality wise, I become less impetuous, and my tolerance of others improved. Suddenly, some of the girls who had teased me as a kid were asking me out in college, and I was approached by strangers. All that has no meaning now, except it is much better memories than the ones I had where I was teased, and it has given me a lot of confidence in myself as I age. In the early years, I oversteered – I became a little cocky. But after a few years that too calmed down into quiet confidence, and then I met my future Wife M.
But my point is this — if life had been taken away at 10, 15 or even 20 or 25, I’d never had a chance to change, to evolve, not only looks wise but personality wise (I am a much wiser person I think then even in my 20s). My life would have been — and =eople would remember me as — a small, opinionated, high-strung, homely kid with glasses.
It is such a gift to be given a long life, to change and evolve, to grow as a person. Not everyone gets that chance. So I am very grateful. And how many kids or young adults have died who didn’t get a chance to evolve. Which is one of the many reasons I love the idea of forgiveness and thinking the best of young people, and why our incarceration and imprisonment of so many young men and women is devestating, and one of many reasons of why wars are so tragic.
I have not been in battle (knock on wood) so have limited credibility, but it seems to me that for every war hero who does something fanatical (like charging a machine gun nest) and survives, there are a thousand would-be heroes who are flat out killed, but we only hear about the one survivor (partially due to propaganda). So the last thing I would ever do if an army of soldiers was passing by my house is race out with a gun and fire at said army (being part of a militia might be one thing, but an individual and overt act is quite another). Yet, here is a German soldier’s diary excerpt from the Battle of the Frontiers in World War I, compliments of history.com: “Nothing more terrible could be imagined….We advanced much too fast—a civilian fired at us—he was immediately shot—we were ordered to attack the enemy flank in a forest of beeches—we lost our direction—the men were done for—the enemy opened fire—shells came down on us like hail.” I truly wonder what that unfortunate civilian was thinking. Had he given up hope? Was he suicidal anyway? Did he have a fleeting moment of invincibility? A burst of desperation? One of my favorite lines about war is from The Civil War (Ken Burns), who quoted someone: “War is all hell.” I can’t think of a worse human instinct than war, especially since it is so often “a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.”
In China Marine, EB Sledge has a few episodes where he realizes that people cannot understand what he has been through. For months on end, he slept in mud, watched his good friends killed on a daily basis and lived in a constant (i.e. hourly) threat of instant death where 90% of the people he went into battle with were killed, some in hand-to-hand combat with the Japanese. (As much as any book I’ve ever read, With the Old Breed made me feel like I was there). Now, here he is at home, the parades are over and life has moved on, and nobody knows the grind it took on a daily basis to fight the war. So in essence he is left alone to deal with his feelings…
My experience was nothing like EB Sledge in its intensity (I don’t know how the marines stayed sane, and many snapped after multiple campaigns). But I can empathize, since in that first year after getting my scary lung disease under control, I felt so alone. Here I was, a survivor, but there were no walks or ribbons (many people march for friends in support of breast cancer), no one knew what disease I had or that I was continuing to fight it (and Ankylosing Spondylitis), and everyone was able to continue their lives while I was still trying to get my life back. It was shocking. Lonely. Devestating. (And I experienced only a fraction of a percent of what EB and other combat veterans experienced!). It wasn’t that people didn’t care, but they had their own lives to lead and how could they possibly know what I was feeling? Which is why I burst into tears in the doctor’s office that day when he told me how boyant/chipper I seemed despite being through so much, and thank god I did since he sent me to therapy that got my life back on track. My life will neer be the same, and in some ways it is better while in other ways it is much worse, but at least it is back on track again (and, overall, I am *much* more content and less anxious now than I was pre-illness).
Anyway, on a minor level I can understand what EB felt when he returned home. And I continue to look foward to reading about his journey in China Marine. And I feel soooo much for that man, and the other people who have returned from battle (including our Afghanistan/Iraq veterans).
I honestly did not think there could be a worse candidate for President than Mitt Romney in 2012. Romney was the worst kind of elitist – an elitist (and a literal schoolyard bully) who saw himself as self-made despite having a rich/powerful father and who made his own personal fortune by exploiting the system at the expense of average Americans. Now, we have Trump, who is essentially a clone of Romney except worse, and a blatant racist to boot, which is empowering other blatant racists in America. Essentially, Trump is yet another reminder in the world to appreciate the what we have at the moment, because it can always get worse.
The trouble this year is Clinton. Unlike Obama, Clinton leaves us no way out. The world has been a slow destructive spiral since 9/11, when we fell into a recession and when we started to emerge from it the money pooled at the top instead of making any effort to redisribute it to the masses, and when we went in and basically kicked a bee’s hive in the Middle East while enriching a frenemy in China for the benefit of rich American Corporations. The result of this are growing seeds of hate in the world, that are continuing to percolate and simmer and are manifesting as shootings and bombings that are increasingly more frequent and disturbing, and in new extremist organizations like ISIS — and Donald Trump. Clinton has been part of the 1% elitists who have not only enriched themselves at the world’s expense, but as Secretary of State showed herself to be untruthful and a war monger. So by voting for Clinton, I’m basically ensuring the world continues on its slow and increasingly destructive spiral down.
So, in 2016, we are left with a very strange and can’t win choice where for the first time in my lifetime I do not believe there is a “safe” or “less destructive” choice. In a way, I feel like it is a combination of 1860 and 1930, but instead of Abraham Lincoln or Roosevelt as a candidate, we have a choice of Hitler’s little brother or a Robber Baron for President. To vote for Trump is to support a blatant, elitist, ignorant, lying buffoon who will probably be harmless in many ways (who will listen to a buffoon?) but will plant divisive seeds of hate in the domestic US while allowing powerful enemies to run unchecked in the world, probably resulting in a horrific world blow up and race divisions in America. And on the other hand, if I vote for Clinton we are sure to continue growing the seeds of hate and discrepancy in the world while the 1% continue to enrich themselves, essentially ensure things will be worse and more violent in 4 more years but with less likelihood of an immediate world wide catastrophe.
So, it is like the world is giving me The Lady or the Tiger choice. It is a true dilemma. Do I vote for cointuined pain to ensure the world does not blow itself up (Clinton), or do I burn the house down in the hopes of re-building a better house (Trump)?
Honestly, I am going to write in Bernie Sanders. I am not wise enough to vote see the smart decision for Trump or Clinton, if it is better to vote for revolution or a continued unhealthy world order. So I am going to go with my ethics, and write in Bernie Sanders. It is the only time in my life I’ve written in a candidate.
I am all for equal rights, but the news that our senate wants women to register for the draft is frightening. Have we become such a militaristic society that we want to force our mothers and daughters to fight? Not to mention the fact that a Senate comprised of 80% men voting on a matter involving women seems to me like a law passed without fair representation…