A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post for Martin Luther King’s holiday titled “Living The Dream: The 3 Dimensions of Health.”
If you haven’t read it yet, you can check it out here.
When I started this blog, I did so on one condition – that I remain true to myself.
I promised myself that I would not just have another “cookie cutter” fitness blog, and that I would speak about all the things that I am passionate about – especially if I feel those things will make you all reading this more conscious human beings and better people.
After all, what’s life about if not to serve others and help those around you be better in every possible way – not just physically, but mentally and emotionally.
This past weekend I went to see American Sniper.
I’m a huge fan of both Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper, and if I am not reading a book or exercising, I’m most likely watching a movie.
The film really hit a chord with me, and while I did not plan to write about it, I felt it was my responsibility to do so; and encourage you all to not only watch the film, but to think deeply about the world we live in and the people in it.
If you haven’t seen American Sniper, the film is truly a “must watch.”
Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, and the entire cast and crew did a phenomenal job of portraying a soldier’s journey – physically and psychologically.
If I had anything other than the utmost respect and gratitude for anyone in the armed forces before this film, I sure do now, no doubt about it.
If anyone reading this has served in our military, let me start this post off with an immense “THANK YOU.”
You serve this country and its citizens with honor, and anyone that has not been to war has no right to criticize your efforts or judge your bravery.
I have read both sides of the debate regarding this film.
Like all great works of art, I feel that the movie’s beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and therefore, highly subjective to our personal experiences, beliefs, and ideology – namely how we feel about war in general.
I do feel, however, that the one thing that we can all agree upon is that the film does a phenomenal job of graphically depicting the extreme brutality and horrifying conditions of modern warfare.
The men and women who sacrifice their lives for our country do so on all three levels of human existence: physically, mentally, and spiritually.
The effects of war are felt long after the battles are fought and the war won.
I don’t know that anyone with a brain, or any sense of compassion for other human beings, could watch this film and wish for that kind of life for themselves or anyone else.
With that being said, I left the theater on Saturday evening with not only a deep sense of gratitude, but also a gaping sadness and feeling of responsibility as a citizen of this country.
No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, I feel that there are great lessons to be learned from watching this film.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said that the three problems which he considered the largest of those that confront mankind were racial injustice, poverty, and war:
“Though each appears to be separate and isolated, all are interwoven into a single garment of man’s destiny.”
Therefore, I feel it is mine as well as every citizen of this country’s responsibility to take this into account every time that we step into a voting booth (or decide not to).
I truly believe that there is no greater way to show our appreciation, or to honor the lives of these men and women, than to vote for government officials who regard war as a “last measure,” and do not send our troops into harm’s way hastily or unnecessarily.
I do not feel this has been the case – especially in the last decade.
Lives are being lost not to protect our freedom, but to protect the interests of the rich and powerful.
Eisenhower warned of the military industrial complex 60 years ago, and unfortunately his prediction has come true.
I feel that it is our responsibility to vote for measures and the funding necessary to give our troops the adequate medical care and educational opportunities they deserve and require to make a decent living for themselves and their families when they return home from their tours.
In World Wars 1 and 2, the men joined the fight while the women got jobs to support the household; taxes were raised on the wealthiest Americans, and the country shared the terrible burden of war together.
This isn’t the case anymore, and over the course of the past 10 years, we have waged two wars, tripling the deficit.
The middle class and the poor have carried most of the financial weight, while the wealthiest Americans received tax cuts.
Our veterans are coming home to VA hospitals that are underfunded and staffed.
They are not receiving the care they deserve, and the financial and educational opportunities made available to them are inadequate, to say the least.
If we cannot afford to care for our veterans, then we cannot afford to go to war.
I hope this film inspires us all as a nation to be more conscious of the reasons that we go to war.
All human life is precious, and no amount of money or “influence” in a region is worth the deaths of thousands.
In memory of Chris Kyle and the thousands of military service men and women who have given their lives, I would hope that we as a nation never take for granted their sacrifice.
I hope that we elect leaders with not only courage and bravery, but the discipline and level headedness needed to keep us out of conflict until absolutely necessary.
If the day comes that we have exhausted every channel of diplomacy, and war is inevitable, I hope that we as a nation face the horror together as one.
Go watch the film!