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Okay, random...

So, I am supposed to be away from the computer tonight. I made a deal with the hubby that I would be computer-free for two nights a week. But we just watched a movie that we literally stumbled upon and I'm a bit tangled up by the thoughts it's produced in me. So... I snuck into the office to write this in the dark. Shhh.

The movie was called "In the Valley of Elah" and was roughly about the war in Iraq. The war was the backdrop for a murder mystery, CSI-type story, but it was also the social commentary of the director. The Valley of Elah is where David slew Goliath. I was left wondering who was supposed to symbolize David -- the Iraqis or the Americans?

I grew up with very defined lines drawn around "right" and leaving "wrong" out in the cold. It was hard being gray in a black and white world. This war has left me with feelings so conflicted that I basically shut them off. I love our country, I admire and respect our soldiers. I hurt for them and pray for them and am grateful for them. I need them on that wall. The world needs them there.

But I don't understand what we're doing over there anymore -- it's not that I don't agree with it, I simply don't understand. I am not educated in the why's. And I am worried about who it is coming home inside of the bodies of the soldiers we send over there. This movie showed a side to normalcy that was frightening in its blankness. An acceptance of violence acted upon another that I couldn't wrap my mind around. And the movie claimed that this happened because of what the soldiers go through "over there."

I have no way of knowing if that is true, but the concept frightens me. We are born as someone and life changes us gradually into someone else. Unless we are confronted with an event so powerful the change happens rapidly and our psyches cannot absorb it all. Who do we become then?

I think about my baby girl and the world she is growing up in. So different from the world of my youth, which was so different from the world of my parent's childhood. And my grandchildren will grow up in a world different from now. I suppose without the conflict of now we'd never know the peace of tomorrow. 

But there was a line in that movie that will probably haunt me for awhile. "Heros shouldn't be sent to a place like that." Rather than the conflict turning a man into a hero, this movie claims that the conflict stripped a man of all hope of heroism. I'm still trying to figure out what that means for me.

Comments

( 11 Tall Tales — Tell Me A Story )
chemm80
May. 20th, 2008 03:42 pm (UTC)
Let me get the random-osity (shut up - totally a word) out of the way first.

I find it hysterical you're sneaking around on your husband with your computer. The reason it's so funny to me is that mine recently told me - in all freakin' seriousness - that he's afraid I've met someone online and I'm going to run off with them and leave him to raise the kids alone.

Also, and I don't mean to make light of what you're saying at all:

I need them on that wall.

"A Few Good Men" - one of my favorite movies EVER.

Now for the serious stuff. I have a lot of the same conflicted feelings that you do about the war. I don't really understand what's going on or how it's affecting the ones that have been there.

I will say that my husband's nephew has spent quite a bit of time over there (Army), and even got shot. (It was a friendly fire/accident and though he was shot in the chest, he had on his body armor or whatever and was okay.)

Anyway, the thing that I've seen in his life is the effect it's had on his family life. They keep them over there for such long tours and then just keep sending them back. Jaysen has a wife and young son and I don't think their marriage has fared well at all due to the long separations. He's missed most of his boy's developmental milestones, too. I know there are many, many other young men and women in the same boat.


gaelicspirit
May. 20th, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC)
Yeah, he knows I have a whole new world of friends now because of fanfiction and SPN... and that I have some pretty deep conversations via IM... but I also work on my computer all day, so part of the bargain was supposed to be to give *me* a break.

It's hard, though, to explain that the 10 hours I spend working on the computer during the day are different from the 4 hours I spend writing or IMing or LJing at night. It's a completely different mindset.

I'm really glad your nephew was okay -- I have a cousin who's served two tours there as an MP. I don't know him that well, just that in my mind he's perpetually 7. If a tour is 18 months, he's spent almost the equivalent of his high school career over there, y'know?

I'm pretty careful about what I say and how I say it when it comes to this subject in mixed company. But I felt that this was a relatively safe place to voice some conflicted feelings through random-osity. *wink*
chemm80
May. 20th, 2008 05:43 pm (UTC)
It's hard, though, to explain that the 10 hours I spend working on the computer during the day are different from the 4 hours I spend writing or IMing or LJing at night. It's a completely different mindset.

I'm totally with you there. My work keeps me here at the computer all day also, but it's still recreational for me to LJ and write. I haven't heard whether you work from home or an office, but I work at home so I need the social outlet that my online friends give me. Later friend. :)
eaglegirl6
May. 21st, 2008 02:39 am (UTC)
That's a very interesting line, and I could see how it will stay with you:
"Heroes shouldn't be sent to a place like that."

But you didn't really -sneak- to the computer, did you? I know what you mean about wanting to record your thoughts, though. But that sweet hubby...

In this time in my life, I just try to make sure those boys and girls over there have the best tools possible, regardless of my feelings about the war.

I like the motto, don't talk religion or politics unless you're looking for a fight. Not among friends of course, though!

So, since you're computer-free, when might a new chapter be coming :-)
gaelicspirit
May. 21st, 2008 03:18 am (UTC)
Well, yeah, the sneaking was more so that I wasn't blatantly throwing the computer usage in his oh-so-forgiving face. :) He is a sweetie, isn't he? *loves him*

I love knowing that what you do helps the soldiers... just one more reason I'm proud to know you.

As for a new chapter -- I have the outline finished and the baddie researched... all important steps in my process. If all goes well, you should see one to beta this time next week. Or there-abouts. :) Hope that is okay...

Thanks for reading, my friend.
thatgirlsix
May. 21st, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
Hiya Sweetness,

I'm still not sure this'll come out right but bear with me.

I can't exactly say that I understand the 'whys' of how we got there any more than anyone else. The thing is, it really doesn't matter anymore. We're there. I can tell you why we stay, or at least part of why we stay. And this is an entirely non-political answer because I never inflict my own politics on anyone.

When my husband was in Iraq, he and the group he was with found three men beheaded outside the gate for daring to help the Americans get electricity. We stay so that one day people won't have to be afraid to do their jobs or to show a little kindness. We stay because we can't imagine a life where just going to work is something that someone will kill you for. We stay because we can't imagine what it's like to go to the grocery and not know if this is the time that you won't come home because you had to get that extra somethingorother.

At least, those are the reasons that we tell ourselves that we're there because, honestly, I don't think that either of us want to believe that we've gone through this for anything less. We both hate this war and would give just about anything to pull out right now, but we know that it just isn't possible. For him, those people are why.

My last seven years have been about nothing but the war. It's been about Boy being in training, being deployed, trying to get his head together, and being deployed again. It's been about burying friends, sending one of my best friends twice, and dealing with all of it as quietly as I can. It's been about having my ten minute phone call that I got once every ten days interrupted by mortars without any calls or emails for a week to know if he was okay. It's been about putting him back together when his nightmares are too much for one night. It's been about learning how to recognize that nothing is quite going to be the same again.

As for how people change when they get back, I can tell you that it goes both ways. They're going to change. Boy spent the four months between Afghanistan and Iraq on the couch, drinking, and basically burying himself from the world. Sometimes I think those four months were harder than any of the times he was deployed.

But I also give him so much credit. It isn't always easy. Noises make him jump like you wouldn't believe. And we never really get away from it all. There is always something, whether he has to go over there for a quick two months, someone we love is gone, or he has things to do for work, whatever. Even when we're out with friends, they're literally comparing war stories. That phrase is so different to me now. It's actually hard sometimes to talk to our families back home who really don't know what it's like to live this all the time. There's a reason I don't talk about it any more than Boy does.

I wish that I could give you some sort of comfort. All I can really tell you is that you have a great heart and I adore you for even thinking about what they all go through over there. There are a lot of times when it feels like the world has forgotten. Soldiers who die are no longer named -- they are just "three soldiers died today". There are days when we really don't know why he has to do this. He will never again be the guy I knew before all of this started. But in some ways, he's better. We just have to roll with it. It's all anyone can do. The way we look at it: my grandfather did it, so can he.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, don't let one movie tell you that it is all bleak. Some of it actually is a good thing. In all the badness, we are doing some good over there. I didn't cumulatively give up several years with my husband for there not to have been good things.

I don't know if that will help you sort things out or not. God knows I question this every day. But I want you to know that it isn't all in one direction or another. As long as someone still cares, it's worth it. The world is probably always going to be a scary place; the best you can do for your little girl is to show her that having a heart is how to make it better. It's going to be okay. It has to be.

Give yourself some love from me just for being so thoughtful and contemplative. You make me wish I had a bigger heart.

Later,
Six

gaelicspirit
May. 22nd, 2008 01:00 am (UTC)
Aw, Six, I don't deserve to stand near you. This post moved me to tears. There is so much in here that I really needed to hear, that has centered me and grounded me and humbled me.

There are days I want to crawl under my desk because I imagine my life to be hard and just want to hide, but I've never really, truly known hard. What you have been through, what you go through, what your future holds -- I have so much admiration for you my heart is going to burst.

We all have our crosses to bear, I suppose. And we all do so with whatever form of grace we can muster. But what you have sacrificed through the gift of your time with your family leaves me in awe.

I almost lost my huband the first year of our marriage. To sickness. A couple of major surgeries brought him back to me. Thing is, though, he was *right there* with me the whole time. He wasn't a statistic on the evening news. And there were no nightmares or mental pieces to put back together.

Well, for him. :) He had some of my mental piece to reassemble.

I can't imagine what it must be like for you to try to explain your life -- the lives of your men -- to those who don't live that. Even those who are thirsty to understand can't truly fathom the loneliness and fear, the frustration and anger, the loss and hope you have to wade through so often.

One of the things you said that really struck me is that the "whys" don't really matter right now -- the fact is, we're there. That and the people in that world make what our boys sacrifice worth all the struggle.

I won't say that one movie has brought me to a bleak outlook -- actually, I think it opened my eyes. I have been so tired of hearing the media talk politics about it all and the leaders of our country make what sounds like false promises, that I just stopped listening. Shame on me. I don't need to stop listening -- I need to listen with better ears.

I pray your boys see this war through and that you are able to stay strong. For you and them.

Thank you for taking time to reply to me and help me understand this situation at a deeper level. I appreciate it more than you know and will keep what you said top of mind.

Slainte,
Gaelic
thatgirlsix
May. 22nd, 2008 10:08 pm (UTC)
Oh, sweetheart,*loves*

While I'm glad I could help center your thoughts a little bit, I never want you to think that there is any kind of comparison between lives. Nearly losing your husband must have been terrifying. I wouldn't wish that fear on anyone. There are always pieces to pick up after something like that. A life different from your own doesn't invalidate your feelings and pieces in any way. I am so glad that you are both okay. I don't know you yet, but my life is cheered knowing that you're out there in the world with that big heart of yours. We're all going to be okay. *G*

And on those days when it's prettier under your desk, when you want to peek your head out again, you know where to find me. I have ridiculous amounts of sunshine to hand off to people. Heh. I think it might have something to do with the overdose my sister gave me when we were in high school. Every morning for a month she started the day with "It's a Sunshine Day" blaring out her stereo. I have wicked ways to make you smile.

Think pretty thoughts, my dear. Go give that wonderful husband and little girl kisses. We're all going to be okay.

Later!
Six




(Anonymous)
May. 22nd, 2008 11:07 pm (UTC)
Six, I'm going to show your reply to my nearly 18 year old son, who, sort of out of the blue, has decided that he is going to join the Army. He's mentioned it in the past but we thought it 'just a phase' and he went into a carpentry apprenticeship but he wants excitement, chance to travel blahblah.

Within the space of two days, he's done the exam, signed the papers (posted dated to 7th June his 18th birthday) and he's likely to be in training after his holiday in July. I am gutted. I don't want him to go, but my words of concern are swept away on the optism of youth.

What you wrote is raw truth, it's the flip side to the 'make new friends, travel the world, participate in sports, do activities you only dreamed about, get a trade.' They leave out the bit about being blown up, mental or physical trauma, etc etc.

Maybe American service men have more tours than the UK, I don't know, all I do know for sure right now is that I am so scared. How do you wave them off at the door with a smile on your face?

Jane
deansbabybird
May. 30th, 2008 10:39 pm (UTC)
Amanda.

war sucks, its as simple as that. It might be inevitable maybe even righteous sometimes, but it always always sucks. It will paint some men and women with a shining marker that names them hero, and there is wonder and beauty in that, but it destroys too many others. Sorry, have just been watching Schindler's List and was, as always, moved to tears and that may have fueled my rant here but I defy anyone to watch the final scene of that movie and vilify war. Sorry! shutting up! bev xxxx
gaelicspirit
May. 31st, 2008 02:56 am (UTC)
Hey, no! No shutting up! I post looking for opinions, right? And yours matter.

Y'know, I've never seen Schindler's List (shame on me), but I've seen a lot of movies and documentaries about the holocaust. Scary, heartbreaking, tragic.

You're right. War sucks. Even if sometimes...it might be necessary...to stop an evil. Still sucks.
( 11 Tall Tales — Tell Me A Story )

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