Bradley Cooper plays Chris Kyle in the film "American Sniper"
My younger son, a member of the National Guard and a verbal enthusiast of military effort, camaraderie, and patriotic purpose, went to see the movie for the second time the other day. When I asked him if he had gone a second time because of friendship with his buddies who went with him or because the movie was worth seeing twice, he replied, "A bit of both, I guess."
My son can wax fiery and rhapsodic about people who criticize war efforts without knowing from experience what the fuck they're talking about. It's an argument for which I have some sympathy ... blowhards, left and right, are like living with a fart under the covers -- no escape and stinky with ill-informed righteousness. Politics, religion, sports ... same stuff, different day.
The movie seems to have had two strands at least. One is the movie per se, which has gotten moderately good reviews. The second strand seems to be a heart-felt and fairly shallow investigation of reality-based events and policies and perceptions. Is Kyle a "hero" or a "villain" in the world as it currently and actually exists?
All the news-outlet buzz words come into play: "Terrorism" and "oil" and "warrior" and "hero" and "patriotism." And there is passion to the palaver and everyone credits his or her outlook as "thoughtful." And who knows -- maybe it is.
But two things seem to me to be missing: 1. In all the reality-based discussion of America's warriors there seems to be little willingness to back up a step from the individuals under consideration to the policy-makers who made it all possible. It's as if those stating a "thoughtful" position know implicitly that such a study would be enormously challenging and vague and unlikely to provide a knife-edge clarity of conclusion... and their supper might get burned if they went down that road.
Second, unless I am mistaken, there is a growing tendency to see things in terms of fear and the war and warriors it creates. Where is the consideration that if "terrorism" and its "terrorists" exist, there is some appreciation of the reasons -- well-founded or not -- for those activities? What happened to the good news that invariably shadows the bad? And vice versa? If you cannot acknowledge and snoop the positive aspects, how "thoughtful" is the appreciation of the negative? If you cannot know your enemy, how can you know your friends ... and vice versa? And what legitimate claim to being "right" can be claimed when what is "wrong" is the sole focus ... and vice versa?
I guess this sounds a bit airy-fairy and daunting, but I really do think that without such an effort (even if it falls short), the chance to be happy and at peace is sharply diminished.
Having a hero is not the same as being one.
And flushing out the villain is not rocket science while the bathroom mirror exists.