Wednesday, July 19, 2006

shot to hell

"...from this day until the ending of the world but we in it shall be remembered. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers, For he today who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother..."

William Shakespeare's 'King Henry V' : Act IV, Scene III

Say what you like about Steven Spielberg.

Whatever about his films, he has always retained an unerring talent for reaching out from his director’s chair right through the camera lens, through your television screen, and right down into your tear ducts, emptying everything inside – a volume of tears you never even knew was there.

A long time ago, since we share a similar taste for TV drama, a good friend of mine suggested I buy the DVD box set of “Band of Brothers". As I watched it unfold I realised it was based on a part of the American WWII campaign very close to the situation my grandfather found himself in when he served in military intelligence.

For some reason, however, despite the family interest, I found viewing the series from start to finish extremely tough going. It is only now that have been able to see the final few instalments, and I was particularly moved by episode 9 where the American batallion first came across a concentration camp in Germany.

I am and always will be a pacifist. If I have learned anything from my past few years of reflection on what it is that makes this life worth living, it’s that once you see a chink of light at the end of the tunnel of your own confusion, you should never take your eyes off of it.

Even with a well scripted, cast, acted and directed TV drama, I could barely come even close to understanding what my grandfather experienced in Europe.

What I do know is that if I can’t make head or tail of his actions since I came into his life, I should learn to let them be. Once fate offers you a future as it has done me, you must first find it in yourself to let go of your past.

Though I have been lucky enough to have avoided it up to now, I would venture a guess that war is something that takes what you previously understood to be reality and shoots it clean to hell.

Sure, the Nazis needed to be stopped. Sure, Saddam Hussein needed to be stopped. Sure, there will one day be a new enemy to fear, to loathe, to conquer. That still doesn't convince me that war has to be the final option without exception.
This subject is particularly relevant today as bombs rain down over Lebanon and northern Israel. For me, each side is as bad as the other, though it sickens me that the international community lends credibility to one side just because they are the military of a sovereign nation. In my book, they're all terrorists.

I suppose all we can really do is ponder the role of Extremism in our lives, and learn to understand it more.

To have an Extremist viewpoint is a human right.

To impose an Extremist viewpoint on others is and always will be a human tragedy.


Curly K said...

Well said you. I too am a pacifist although I always wonder how that would work were I to have children and someone were to hurt them! However, you're spot on about the right to hold extremist views as opposed to acting on them. Clever aul you, as ever.

Omaniblog said...

I'm catching up on you. It's good to find this piece. Such a personal piece. I too struggled with "Band of Brothers". But I didn't get near the end.