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September 24, 2017



I am watching The Vietnam War on PBS. I was too young to know what was going on then, or too sheltered. I am appalled now. It is eye opening and horrifying.


Just before Christmas, in 1978 my father took me to see The Deer Hunter. He deemed it 'maybe too much for a 14 year old' which threw me because based on the way my brother and I were being raised, what, exactly constituted 'maybe too much for a 14 year old'? However, maybe too much was going to have to be put aside because what he had to show me was far more important than the risk of possible upset I might not be ready to process. He decided I could handle it. He was right, I could handle it and it was difficult to process at 14 and I was just at the cusp where at 13 it would have passed over my head and at 15 it would have been easier to ingest, maybe. He wanted me be absolutely clear of the price men paid when they went to war; specifically this latest war where I was still stepping carefully around the battered remains of of the recently and not so recently returned to the drop zone men with new habits, new occupations (bush pilots make quite a bit more money staying in the bush then returning to old occupations and snipers can continue to make a living being still and breathing in and breathing out waiting for that shot then they can trying to find a place in the world and continue to e.g.), and the brittle hardness around the eyes and mouth which is the outgrowth of the spine that occurs when too much too much has gone on for way too long. He wanted me to see, to understand, to expand compassion just little bit deeper than where it went naturally with my wolf pack; to love just a little bit harder tolerance but also a protectiveness of self that comes with the understanding that the damage is real and permanent and that these men can and will hurt me however unintentionally because the parts of them that could not and would not hurt in many ways were gone forever replaced by an abyss I couldn't begin to fathom.

None of this addressed the other side of the war for which Michael Cimino took a serious beating. Later, Apocalypse Now, A Thin Red Line, Saving Private Ryan, and the Band of Brothers series, and probably more I'm not thinking of took on similar subjects, some of which touched lightly on the subject of the effect of war on the general population but really focused on the American Soldier. No one wants to look at what is happening on the ground, what we are doing, what is being done over all, the decisions that were and are made that get us into the situation in the first place, the decisions that continue to be made and the prices that are paid on a micro level. We close our eyes, and again, to question is verboten. It is unpatriotic, worse yet, our growing sense of nationalism makes us fearful.

But documentaries are made, have always been made. The questions are asked and often answered. When I started at Praxair and understood it was what remained of Union Carbide I researched the hell out of Union Carbide's history, having only the memory of Bhopal which occurred when I was twenty and would have seen little of it on television having precious little reception and processed even less being about six weeks away from a wedding. It stuck though. What I found online made me cry. Later when I went to GE and worked with a herd of international consultants one of them who was in his very early thirties told me he lived in that city when the gasses were released. He was fortunate enough to be the son of a doctor with a second house in the country. His family was removed to the second house but the father remained in the city for the most part. He pointed me to a documentary that I'm sure Praxair did everything possible to kill from its inception all the way to its release. My friend said it was the closest thing to the truth as he understood it that anyone had ever come to releasing to the general public. It was available on Netflix. I have no idea how many Americans actually watched it.

The series you are watching is getting a fair amount of attention from a specific subgroup of people in my Facebook feed and absolutely zero in the rest. I am going to have to figure out how to hook into PBS through the internet so I can see it and then post because the left wing socially conscious, statue removing, flag snatching (listen, I get it, but you just don't do that sort of thing without coming to agreement with the people who own these things first), self-righteous, going to change the world and God help you if you get in my way or start doing it wrong really need to sit the hell down and think about somebody or some thing other than themselves and their (own) immediate problems and issues. I don't mean to say we don't have problems and issues but I do mean to say we exist outside our boundaries in ways we never think of and a world exists outside our boundaries we never think of. That two towers fell in Manhattan and 2,606 people died in NYC is a thing that was beyond our comprehension and yet if we had any concept, other than a theoretical, I see this but it doesn't apply to me because I am not connected to you and therefore do not experience compassion (see the paragraph on The Deer Hunter), we would not have experienced shock in quite the same way. I do not believe our sense of nationalism would have raised its ugly head quite so high above the world. I do not believe we would still be in Afghanistan. I do not believe we would have danced in the street when Saddam Hussein was killed, revealing the depth and truth of collectively just how much of our humanity we had traded in for revenge for, what, exactly? We would not have so easily, so willingly have handed over our right to privacy.

We would never have elected a man who serves as only the face of the chaos behind the curtain we have never really wanted to part.

While countries fight, citizens on the ground trading their lives for the right to vote, purple ink staining the fingers of as much of the population that can make it to the polls, an alarming percentage of us sit back and refuse to choose (and no vote, is still a vote) because, I do not like either candidate, or my candidate did not win in the primaries so I will give it to the opposing party out of spite, or I am too removed to care... many of these are women who could not tell you that it has only been 97 years since the ratification of the 19th amendment, much less identify the 19th amendment.

All of this I believe, because we have no connection with the world beyond our boundaries and very little connection with the world beyond our own regions. I do not believe we would start pulling confederate flags, much less statues without having spent just a little more time in open negotiation and communication as opposed to the outright American style bullying which leaves a region with all sorts of feelings which are hardly forwarding and an indication that a connection on a human level, on both sides, is missing.

So. That was a post. I sure do have energy on all this :)

Somebody once wrote in the comment section of a post I wrote early in this blog's life about missing international travel that in my privileged life I was missing the fact that I was traveling on the backs of people of lesser means. I cried for days over that comment and then came back and talked about why I thought travel was damned important. The response was that she could learn everything she needed on the internet. I thought about that for a very long time and came to the conclusion in the end that this was not so. We must walk out of our backyards with our defenses down. We must walk at least twenty meters, metaphorically speaking, into enemy territory (all territory which is not our own backyard is enemy territory, think about it) and we must surrender our selves and our beliefs long enough to listen if we ever expect to be listened to in return. Travel as you can even if it is only to the next state.

OK, now I'm done. :) If you made it this far, thank you for caring enough to listen.


Get your computer. www.pbs.org.

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