I've always been drawn to war movies. Platoon, Black Hawk Down, Apocalypse Now, The Thin Red Line. The raw intensity moves me. The grittier, the better. When I re-watch those first 27 minutes of Saving Private Ryan, I still have a visceral reaction. The courage and fear in those boys is palpable as they approach the beaches. I wince knowing their fate.
I couldn't find anyone to see Lone Survivor with me, so I finally went by myself.
That's too hard to watch.
Too much violence.
It's just too real.
Such a downer.
I go to the movies to escape. Teleport me to an alien planet for a couple hours.
To each his own. Yet, for some reason, I embrace that raw reality-- the insanity of war, the pain, the frustration, the anger. I respect it. As a citizen of the world, I actually feel it's my duty to watch these movies. It seems un-American to avoid
them as "too messy." No doubt they're difficult to watch, but our unease seems a small price to pay considering the immense human sacrifice.
I can't change circumstances. I can't erase pain and suffering. And I've certainly learned I can't change history. However, I can bear witness and say, Yeah, that happened. That was real. And it was God-awful. Take note, damn it.
The truth is, every day I'm surrounded by people fighting battles. I don't need a big screen to remind me of the tough realities of life people face daily. No, they are not on a grand scale, like a war, but they are still epic in the true sense of the word --heroic and impressive in quality. I have a friend who has a child addicted to heroin, a parent with a progressive disease, a friend undergoing chemo, a friend who just lost her husband, a neighbor dealing with heart-breaking betrayal, a colleague with a severe special needs child.
I know firsthand these battles aren't won or lost in a day, a month, or a year. Often these storms rage for years - alternating between chaos, a new normal, more chaos, another new normal, more chaos, the next new normal and on and on. For many, living day to day in chaos and fear is completely normal.
When bad news is delivered, a tragedy occurs, or an accident happens, resounding support is often close at hand in the form of meals, cards, notes, hugs, flowers, donations -- whatever is needed. I don't have to look far to find little armies of support giving rides, making meals, picking up the phone, sending a note or just sitting and listening. Those are the actions that fortify my soul.
However, over time, support systems can fade. It's not that people don't care. It's just that very few people have the emotional energy or stamina to hang around for the long haul.
You're STILL dealing with that?
Isn't it time to move on?
I've been meaning to call.
C'mon. It's time you get over it.
Can't you let it rest?
Isn't it over YET?
You still need those meetings?
You still have no ________ (justice, answers, relief, diagnosis, etc.)?!?!?
When there's no quick fix, no light at the end of the tunnel or no sure thing, the momentum of support can die. Let's face it, after a while, some folks just don't want to hear about it anymore. I'm guilty of this. I get wrapped up in my own problems and frustrations and sometimes think I just can't send a card, make a meal, or watch her children. But I need to remember, it's not the size of my offering - it's the offering itself that matters. Sometimes just a few kind words -- the mere acknowledgement of a friend's pain, can send the message: Hey, I know you're going through something tough, but the world hasn't forgotten you. You're situation is not too messy. I'm not avoiding you. I care. I can't fix it, but I got your back, no matter how many years it takes.
No doubt there is too much human suffering in the word today. Let's not be those people who insulate ourselves from it. Let's have the courage and compassion to join the battle, no matter how big or small our contributions. Pick up that phone. Send that note. Make that pot of soup. And give that hug. You can handle the truth.