House of Mirrors
*Editor's Note: As much as I enjoy laughter, levity and encouragement in my writing, sometimes transparent commentary is what the "doctor orders" most. Today is one of those days! I hope my reflective thoughts resonate and even "hit a nerve" with us all to the point we are motivated to a positive course of action and interaction...
Last night I got a double dose of reality. The movie "We Were Soldiers" starring Mel Gibson was playing late night. Restless and unable to sleep, I thought watching a few minutes of an old movie would help but was I ever wrong. This was not the movie to lull me to sleep. Oh I've tuned in to action movies before and fallen asleep because I wasn't really following the plot anyway, but this one was different. It wasn't just a mindless "shoot 'em up" movie, it was history in its rawest form. If you've never seen it, I recommend you dig it out of archives somewhere and watch it. It is riveting, heart-wrenching and sobering.
I watched the story unfold of the men who were carried off to the Vietnam War; not really fighting for their flag or their country, but because they were ordered by their government to fight someone else's battle. Ultimately, they fought for each other, to survive and return to the wives and children waiting behind. With the finale' of the story, came a release of tears that had been pent up in the recesses of my emotions somewhere - hidden behind frustration, disgust and even a bit of anger. For the last couple of years, I've followed the news closely through riots against the police, through social and moral cage matches between church and state, through the political "follies," protests and debates; through campus unrest, "coddling" of students and media hoopla. It has been the biggest "comedy of errors" in modern time in my opinion - almost like walking into a house of mirrors where nothing is as it seems, everything is a false perception, and reality is lost in a maze of distortion. We have no idea who we are as individuals or as a country anymore all while the "carnival masters" stand outside the house laughing.
Watching the re-enactment of those young men who died in the 7th Calvary in Vietnam, and seeing the sterile way our government informed their loved ones that they would not be coming home, caused me to wonder even more about so many things. How have we come to such a place in America and in our world where our biggest fear is who uses what restroom; our greatest enemy is the one whose speech differs from our own, and whose ideas "color outside the lines" of our neat little picture? We demand diversity and acceptance, all while shutting down speakers, protesting politicians, and coddling "traumatized" college students who can't handle a name written in chalk on a sidewalk. We stomp on our greatest symbol of freedom and sacrifice, and wave another country's flag in place of the one we trample, burn, spit on and wipe our butts with. A grilled cheese sandwich is deemed "racist," a person is fired for their faith, another is rewarded for theirs. We want freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of choice, but want to deny others the same freedoms. Right and wrong are subjective, truth is relative and reality is in the eyes of the beholder it seems. A person can claim a different skin color, gender, or even age simply by how they feel and no one can refute the law of physics, biology, genealogy or science. We are criticized for wanting borders to protect our country, while we build constant walls of intolerance of those who think or speak or worship differently than we do. We are afraid of being ourselves, and even more afraid of being different. While all the political correctness nonsense ignites flames of division and disillusionment, all sensibility, reason and common sense is lost and the world is going to "hell in a hand basket." People are dying, terrorism is mushrooming, freedoms are being stripped one by one, economies are collapsing - all while we stay wrapped around the axles about who eats pork, who marries whom, whose candidate deserves our vote and who has monuments dedicated to historical figures. We want to change our textbooks, law books and ledger books to create a "virtual reality" that matches the current narrative instead of learning from those very documents. If a person erases all memory of where they've been. they have no idea where they are and will never arrive at where they need to be.
While we stand on the side lines arguing about who's right and who's wrong, the ones truly "in the trenches" much like those soldiers in my movie, fight on for freedom. The movie adequately depicted how far removed we still are from those who truly do make a difference in our world. The soldiers' deaths were acknowledged with nothing more than a Western Union telegram delivered by a yellow cab. When the battle was over, their lives and sacrifice were a media story that was descended upon by a plane load of hungry reporters anxious for a sensational headline. You would think we would've learned something from the Vietnam era, but we keep repeating the same mistakes. We fight battles we can't win, offer help that isn't appreciated, spend money that bankrupts our nation and ignore the ones who gave the most for the ones who expect it all. Our vets are homeless, sick and in poverty, but instead of caring for them, we care for those who want to use the system. We reward troublemakers and criminals, rioters and illegals, while belittling our protectors in blue and putting our firefighters in unnecessary harms way. We cow down to the corrupt politicians who ignore the voice of the people and criticize those who are willing to stand up for "we the people" all because they don't fit our mold. Our leaders argue with each other and we tear each other apart on the world's stage while our enemies watch us fight to the death and they don't have to lift one finger to defeat us.
I'm not sure exactly when we walked into this house of mirrors, but I think it is time we shatter the distortions around us. We aren't those strange faces in the mirror. In fact, if we looked at each other instead of the images our leaders and the media place before us, we might see our own reflection in the faces of one other. We all want the same things really. We want to care for our families, pursue our dreams, have means of providing, walk in health, live in safety and feel protected. We want to be free to worship or play or speak in the way we feel best. We want to live and love and enjoy the simple pleasures of living in this great nation of ours. It's time that we take a good long look - not in the mirrors of distortion but the mirrors of truth. Until we see ourselves in the eyes of another, we will never see them through the eyes of truth and compassion. Our greatest enemies are not those without, but those within. If we desire to save our world from tyranny and terrorism, from death and destruction, we must save ourselves from "ourselves" first.