Thursday, April 19, 2007

Some Commentary On Recent Events.

I am lucky to be a member of a Discussion Forum with some of the most thoughtful, Opinionated and respectful members you can find. Because of this, we can discuss just about whatever we want on there, regardless of the level of controversy involved. Well, obviously current events have inspired some rather impassioned response as of late. While I do not agree with everything implied in this editorial (I will post the comments I made in the thread at the bottom), I do feel its main thrust is truthful and important, and it should get out to more people. If you want to follow how the discussion develops from here it can be found here. The following comments are by forum member Rob:

I can't bring myself to comment on the Virginia Tech massacre because I feel that it is disrespectful to consider anything on the subject outside of those lives cut short by this senseless violence.

I would like to comment though on the general behavior surrounding this that has gotten my mouth unhinged. Before these poor souls have even been laid to rest we have the media and politicians seizing the opportunity to use this event to justify their views and postulates on everything from gun control to anti-depressants to poetry classes. Everyone has the answer it seems and of course is presenting it to us five minutes too late to be of any value to anyone and in perfect 20 / 20 hindsight focus. Their every breath smacks of self interested narcissism. More guns. Less guns. Arm everyone. Arm no one. This poor boy. How did the system fail him? Who can we blame? Video games. Who's responsible?

The answer is very simple. We're to blame. Not because of records. Not because of Mortal Kombat. Not because someone felt left out or lonely. Because we've allowed this to happen to our society for the past twenty plus years. What have we done? Torn down the heroes. Plain and simple. We couldn't stop. Anyone who was larger than life we grabbed on to them by the shoulders and pulled them under. When did it stop becoming "cool" to be a good father, husband, employee, person. When did it become cool how you kept the extra change from the supermarket teller?

It was always simple. Your parents were your heroes. Mom and dad. Grandpa. Grandma. However the case may be. When trouble came through the front door they met it head and on took it to task tooth and nail. When you had a problem dad took care of it. No matter how big the problem he seemed capable of anything. You hoped to one day be such a big man.

John Wayne was clearly the good guy. He always won out and handily defeated evil. Clint Eastwood. Charles Bronson. Steve McQueen. Errol Flynn and on and on. They took on the black hat and stopped him in his tracks. there was a code and you lived up to it or dared not show your face.

You respected a police officer. You worried nothing more than if one of them brought you home or caught you doing something. You respected your teachers. You stayed in school. Did your homework. You all wanted to be firemen. You realized that true courage was running into a building when everyone else was running out. You saw the veteran's parades and proudly waved your little cloth flag. You respected the elder gentlemen in the strange hat who sat in uniform outside of the DMV asking for a few dollars for a red poppy. You were proud of your country and proud of your family and proud of yourself. You wanted to get a job like dad one day. Have a nice little house. A family car and god willing a family of your own. Play catch in the front yard. Have barbecues with the neighbors in the back yard.

But then something got lost in translation. We lost our nerve. Lost sight of our goals. We began to empathize with the wrong doer. What made him go wrong? How did we fail him? How were we wrong for not helping him? Obviously if we were not so righteous they would not be so malevolent. We became transfixed with deconstructing our heroes. No longer John Wayne, no longer Cary Grant, we began to embrace anti-heroes. Those who made it on the outskirts of society and succeeded almost as an accidental consequence of their self interested actions. They operated on the fringes and with a pervading Machiavellian moral compass. Did we celebrate the Sonny Crocketts faster than they could be shoved down our throats? Our appetite was insatiable.

We have gotten to a point best symbolized by the Pat Tillman story. To this day I have no interest in how he lost his life. the true tragedy is that the public eye can seem to focus on nothing but. Since he was a borderline dirty heavy hitting safety I followed his career. When he laid it all down to serve what he believed in I tipped my hat. End of story. But can we allow our people to have heroes? No. We have to rip it down. Make sure it's good and sullied. Transfix our focus until the subject it hopelessly obscured. Who cares how Jessica Lynch was captured. How she was rescued? The courage of every man and woman to put their life in harm's way for another has earned them and us our illusions. You see our illusions are nothing more than the extension of those things we collectively value made tangible. Myths if you will. Codes of behavior. Passed on from generation to generation.

Who cares what's real and fiction? Allow people their dreams. This is the very foundation from which our better tomorrows come. But no. This we cannot have. We have a growing populace that is angry, isolated, lost. Celebrating the very seeds of their own dismay. We feed this by the continuous intervention of the Internet, order at home movies, text messaging, speed dating, 15 minute marriages, 30 second divorces, broken homes, the word "baby-daddy", mindless crap like American Idol, we watch preposterous programs on TV and dub them reality rather than living our own lives. Anything to drive people apart and away. And then when someone snaps. We go how did this happen? Oh poor baby. How did we fail him? What made him go awry? Was there a warning? Did he give us ample signs?

Bottom line? Who cares. He's a coward. Filth. Vile. And utterly irrelevant. I wish he'd never been born. Not only wasting his own potential but that of so many more. Have we been made to feel so irrelevant that we will stoop to such lows to make our mark in life? Evidently so. Mike Milken was applauded on the courthouse steps. We consider a cheat who gets away with it ingenious. And it's not a question of more guns or less guns. Those are just means to an end. It's truly a question of desire. If you truly want something you'll find a means of achieving it be it through mixing ammonia and Clorox together or mixing fertilizer with a few choice chemicals. In the end it's just the means that change. Not the end. But we're transfixed. Can't look away. Granting the very notoriety to a scumbag based on the means that he chose. In effect validating his actions though not necessarily his motive. We have had innumerable wake up calls and we just keep hitting the snooze button.

A 70 year old man who survives the holocaust and communism selflessly gives his life to barricade a door and save countless lives. His blurb? Approximately 500 words. He's my hero. In that moment you can find no greater act of humanity no greater act of life affirming compassion. How about we celebrate this man instead of a cowardly quitter? How many more acts of sacrifice? How many acts of heroism were lost September the 11th in the face of accusations and the politics of blame? How many gave their lives for an ideal, a belief their fellow man? How many acts of heroism in the middle east have been lost by self interested politicians hoping to solidify their do nothing careers? See the concept of Jesus may just be an idea but the sacrifice held up as the greatest humanly possible has been made plainly real time and again. We just keep missing it.

We want to know how these things happen? Easy. Because we have allowed the line between good and evil to be blurred. Not only that but we've set up a thriving community in the newly formed "grey area" that has slowly overtaken any distinction between either camp. It's gravitational pull is inexorable. We find ourselves drawn into petty discussions and analyzations of the very core elements we hold to be self evident. We justify our accusers by entering into the very debates they sucker us into. Precious and irretrievable moments are lost to the pursuit of nothing.

We need to get back to allowing ourselves our illusions. Believing that if we just put our mind and hearts to it we can do anything for who truly knows our limits as people? Who can set a boundary to human achievement? Aspiring to be the very best that is humanly possible and being content with being productive members of a greater society. Make your way in a just and honest fashion. Stand proud at your accomplishment. Say hello to your neighbors. Make eye contact. Give a sincere wave and a firm handshake. Walk with your head held high. Honor your heroes. And not someone who can dunk a basketball or hit a baseball but someone who can succeed at life. The right way. The way it was meant to be lived. Honor your mother and your father. Be a parent to your children worthy of being admired. Understand that evil is evil in any one's name. Reject it and it's practitioners. Only then will we see a return to the normalcy we all remember and long for. But until that happens I fear we are in for many more tragedies such as this.

Thanks for letting me vent.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Teddy Roosevelt, Speech at the Sorbonne.

and the comments I made in response:

A very heartfelt and well though out post, and I agree with most of the points with it (especially the father/family/duty/service jobs not being held in high enough regard. My Dad worked shit jobs all through my youth to put food on our table. If you don't think that makes him a hero, you need deported.). Alas, maybe I am a product of my generation, but although I think the mythology of America needs a hero, but I do not know if there is one to be had. That said I don't think it can be a living person, because they all have flaws, and I don't think sticking your head in the sand ignoring peoples flaws is a good idea either. It seems to me a lot of societies ill during the 40's and 50's were just ignored, and I do not think that will help the situation over the long haul.

I think TV needs less channels. Any channel that that purports to run news/talk shows on a regular basis, runs a reality TV show (if I want reality TV, I will watch a sporting event), or American Idol should be abolished tomorrow. Society will be all the better for it. We need to stop making so many instant celebrities. The traditional ones are hard enough to deal with.

The highlighted passage is something I just cant agree with though. The reason these things happen is because in every society there are fuckwads who do these kind of things, and we have debates about it, because as rational people, we want to figure out why someone can be that fucking demented. Being sane, we just don't understand it. Again, maybe I am a product of my generation, but people who deal in absolutes scare the fuck out of me, for a number of reasons, the first of many being "what if you are in charge, and I don't have the same absolutes as you?". I can generally get behind the paragraph that follows the highlighted one though.

The more i think about it, even though he died, I think this was at least at some level an attention grab. And the sick part is the fucker succeeded. Instead of praising the lives of the people who died I see pictures and video of the douchebag who commited this act all over the TV. and as long as this is the case, then unhinged folks like him will keep doing it. I think, correlated to Robs rant, we as a whole need to break our addiction to celebrity in all its forms, because that's what he wanted on some level to become.

Meh, I am rambling now, but I hope you get some of my point. Most of all, despite my comments I have to say I think Robs heart is in its right place. Bravo for speaking your mind so eloquently.


1 comment:

Princesse Ecossaise said...

well said. And you're right, the more the media concentrates on examining everything from the motives to the intimate details of these murderers, the more kids who are having these thoughts are able to plan out the same thing. It gives sick minds an idea. Thats something that scares me a lot.