Recently I watched American Sniper–a movie that I always wanted to see but also somewhat dreaded. I’ve always been pretty sensitive and I try to stick to watching comedies. This was a movie about war and its horrors. There’s so much controversy now on what to do when the national anthem is played and all of a sudden people take it personal when someone exercises their constitutional right and peacefully protests. It’s interesting to me how a lot of the most vocal people complaining aren’t military members. The movie tells the story of a sniper who saved fallen comrades. It’s a great movie but the realities of war are hard to watch. I think that everyone should travel to the American cemetery in France where you can see the graves of soldiers of all ages and backgrounds who died to liberate others. I have to admit that I didn’t expect American Sniper to end the way that it did. I went and read about the book that it was based on. It’s not a happy movie but it’s a needed one that showed to some extent how serious PTSD can be. I remember meeting an army sniper in real life. He was in his early twenties but sobbed like a baby as he told me about how he shot a little boy who looked to be about the age of his brother. It was so sad to see how tortured he felt after doing his job and following the orders of his superiors. War is a horrible thing, but I wonder if people know that it’s possible to support the troops and not stand up for the National Anthem. Actions like that should never be mandated if we’re truly “the home of the free.” Furthermore, you can support the troops and advocate for better resources without agreeing with everything the military does. But that’s just my two cents.
Today is the day where social media is inundated with quotes and pictures of Martin Luther King Jr. His words, his ideals, his dreams, and his sermons had a huge influence on a generation and a people who were struggling to be viewed as equals in a country that had previously enslaved them. He spoke against injustice and painted a picture of a world where everyone is equal and we all have access to the same opportunities. There has been some progress towards that goal. Signs that declare public places are for “whites only.” have gone. There are laws that make it illegal to discriminate against someone based on the color of their skin. There’s definitely still a long way to go. I live in a city that has one of the biggest MLK parades/marches (a marade) in the country. Thousands of people attend and there’s a program at the end with music and speeches and remarks. Typically this also includes some cousin or other relative of MLK who has been flown in to make some remarks about the specialness of this day. The news stations are there and try their best to get all the shots of black people standing next to white people in solidarity and unity for a common purpose. The sad truth is that we still live in a very racially motivated society in the States. Other countries have other systems that make one group of people superior to another group. Discrimination and prejudice happens everywhere–not just in America. I think that these gestures and services and speeches and sermons are great, but what are we doing the other 364 days of the world to advocate for people who can’t do it themselves? MLK did a lot for the movement. He dedicated thousands of hours of time and money to the advancement of a cause he felt was worth fighting for. However, I was reading not too long ago that he also died without a will and his family was in dire financial straits due to the fact that he had given most of his money to the cause. His wife left a promising singing career and also devoted most of her life to the work. His children also became vocal about continuing his legacy but drew enormous salaries from the center names in his honor and mishandled funds that almost bankrupted it. They sued each other for exorbitant amounts of money and publicly disagreed with each other on the best way to preserve their father’s memory. I say all this to say that there’s a need for all of us to recognize that the only way progress can happen is that we address problems on a systemic level.