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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Vietnam 1992: The Aftermath of 'The Art of War' is Exposed - Not Buried

Today, the image that stands out in my mind
is the one that I cannot make sense of.
Two soldiers on opposing sides
pin down each other with gunfire.
They believe the only way out
is to kill each other over differences -
kill whoever is different from the other.

In their heads they think it is their job,
their warring belief systems taught them so.
In their hearts they pump adrenalin
to keep the job description flowing.

In the meantime between gun fires
both soldiers have time to feel,
before each trigger pull,
they have the time to choose
each finger squeeze.

One soldier decides
he is going against his nature,
that his spirit is already dying.
A dying spirit can anticipate its death,
at a precise moment
fear gives way to compassion.

The other soldier fires his gun,
and immediately after the shooting,
he checks to see if his target is dying.
He finds his target wounded
near death and nearing death
yet conscious enough to still value life.
The soldier's compassion is ignited.
He offers the comfort of water
and a cigarette to the life quickly lapsing.

After all, both men are lonely,
and possess the same fears -
both are deathly afraid of dying alone
in the middle of nothing
for who knows what.

Out of respect for life,
their human vulnerability creates
a controversial link conversing
across the abyss of difference -
both soldiers start to share their stories.
When stirred, the true feelings of home and family
are the shortest path to a peaceful reconciliation.
The men share photographs,
the images of the ones they are fighting for -
who most likely prefer that there is no need to fight.
The sounds they use to express themselves,
may not be the same utterances,
yet they share the eternal language
of all life and all the dead and dying.

As one soldier slowly leaves,
this world for the next,
his place is left vacant
readying for the next, another.
The expiring man holds onto his life,
long enough, to finish his last gift - a smoke and water.
He offers his killer his remaining food rations.

I grew up watching War on television.
Each day I was teleported 
into a vision of a version of the news.
Reports on the Vietnam conflict, 
by Canadian reporters in the field,
trying to explain to Canadians 
why Americans want to make war -
with people they did not deeply know, 
living a system of governing not deeply understood. 

The unknown is often threatening to people, 
who choose fear over understanding, 
and insist on governing via devaluing other's potential.

As a child I was confused 
by the images and multiple choices -
some of the views expressed in these broadcasts 
were harmful to me, deadly to others,
and yet never fully owned by anyone responsible.
No one held the broadcasting networks responsible
for the opinions they presented on behalf of
the client accounts who paid them for representation.

Some people are in the business 
of creating choices, 
and consider themselves 
ethically principled -
accountable and responsible 
enough to be given license, 
to broadcast stories 
to millions of adults and children.

Yet for some people 
their emotional comfort 
and legal safety 
requires disclaimers -
"The opinions expressed 
in this broadcast 
are not our own,
therefore we are not responsible 
for these words, and images, 
nor their impact on our world,
and our worldwide audience 
globally witnessing this entertainment."

These external world images 
do not match 
my inherent internal world view.

When I was a child 

some comic books imported 
from the United States into Canada,
had advertisements for children 

to write to American soldiers, 
based in Vietnam, who had no family.
In return they offered children 

a copy of the soldier's dog tags 
to wear around as a fashion necklace, 
or identification bracelet around the wrist.
A trend was wanting to be created, 
for children to wear decorations of war -
adorable children adorned with artifacts 
supporting destruction and death.
Our own kindergarden war trophies 
created to remember our world's tragedies.

In Life our actions do become real 
and bring war closer to home.
When parents buy their children war outfits,

and adults make a fashion statement dressing
in camouflage caps, khaki pants and army jackets.
Within our family of planetary languages 

one word means the same in every language.
The word "advertising" means "propaganda" -
both words are actually one word with one meaning.
"The action of creating, educating 
and promoting to people a shared consensus."

One mass unified consciousness, 
created by people for people.
Manufactured manipulation to takeover the lead, 
to lead people's permission and investments,
to convince people to gift their 'power of belief'.
Crafting people's wills to act out 
and uphold a group agreement to what rules -
how to makeover what rules, into what is cool.

Who is They and Who is We -
I have lost track of everyone except for Who is Me.

When I was a child I asked my mother -
"Why do soldiers wear identification bracelets.
Why wear bracelets if they have identification necklaces?"

My mother got quiet -
she dislikes war of any kind, 

war anywhere on any kind of life -
she disbelieves in sharing the insanity 

of making love to war
to make war on loving kindness.

My childhood friends and I loved to read comic books.
I asked my friends,
"Why do soldiers wear two forms of identification?"

One child said her father told her -
"Sometimes in battle men lose their heads."

Her mother told her,
"Men mostly lose their heads 
when they battle themselves.
War is a crime against our own humanity.
War is each individual's search for their own humanity,
but sometimes the only thing that is created 
is the systematic destruction of all 
of our communities, which house our humanity."

The Elder, in my friend's family, 

her grandmother, shared her wisdom -
"All struggles for power 

are struggles against insanity -
a struggle to find power in this world
is simply one person's struggle 

to find their own reason for being."

We children were not quite sure 

of the meaning of it all.
The adults seemed to be acting 

as if all this war making 
was a normal course in action.
Life, after all the death and destruction, 
would work out to be happily ever after.
We children were not sure of this reality -
the surreality the adults were investing in,
and the educating their youth to believe in.

As children of the first television-generation, 

immersed in high volume violent images,
we were being terrorized with no hidden agenda.
No supervising adult had a rational realization
for the in-doctoring that was inducing madness 

of our childhood sensitivities and memories.

People sought happiness 

and justice amidst the surreal
like comic book heroes in mythical stories -

everything all worked out artfully on page 
before the story ended.

We children bought the comics 

with thickly illustrated villains 
and heroes in living color,
expecting that one day 
someone would write a story 
that would give us a full explanation of
why we struggle against our own humanity.

I have yet to be convinced 

that dressing war up 
as entertainment is comical -
the aftermath of the art of war 

is cruelty exposed, not buried by time.
We will be remembered
for our cruel acts to kindness over time.
The aftermath of the art of war 
is exposed - not buried, by time.

~~ Other People's Fingerprints ~~
Sometime after 1729 Edmund Burke wrote, 
“He that wrestles with us 
strengthens our nerves, 
and sharpens our skill. 
Our antagonist is our helper.”