A soggy, icy Monday is starting off the week here on the East Coast. If it's sunny and warm where you are, keep quiet ;) It's officially Martin Luther King Jr. Day as well, which always gives me pause and causes me to think a bit on America. MLK brought so many injustices to the forefront and worked diligently to bring about justice.
As it turns out, I have been thinking A LOT about America over the last week with both the reading and viewing of American Sniper, the story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. I am truly having a hard time filtering through all the things that his story has made me feel and think. My husband has followed his story for a longer period and had been telling me bits and pieces over time. At first I was just saddened that someone who served our country so faithfully was so senselessly killed. Now after reading his book, the story has so many more layers. I loved reading his book first because it was written from his view and in his voice. Nothing is sugar coated about war or the toll it can take on you. I think this something EVERY American should be exposed to. We like to keep our heads in the sand and pretend nothing is happening, when in reality we have had troops in the Middle East consistently since 2003, which is 12 years! If you are around my age, you remember being in elementary school during the first Iraq invasion in the early 90's. This is not a new scenario to most Americans, but have we become callus to it? I dare say we have.
I think that being exposed to Chris's story has not only deepened my respect for U.S. veterans but it has also caused me to think of ways to get involved. I am not sure yet how that will even look but I feel as though we can't just push these men and women aside. I think it also reminded me that America is worth fighting for. America is still an amazing nation (whether or not you agree with any of the current powers that be). I think that leads to another point, which is that troops are simply following orders and doing their jobs. If you disagree with troops being involved, contact your congressmen, don't take it out on military personnel.
I also think that this story has peeled back a layer for me on the extremist terrorist movements. I do read a lot of books and have read some fascinating insights before, but Chris's version was face to face with downright evil. Men hiding behind their daughters to not get shot or putting grenades in the hands of their children should not be how people live! This world has much evil and although we much rather would ignore it, it's a reality. When I get overwhelmed at the thoughts, I turn to my faith. Although it seems out of control, God knows what's going on in every corner of this crazy planet. Chris even questioned, “Isn’t religion supposed to teach tolerance?”
If this post rambled, I apologize. It's hard to put all those thoughts and feelings into linear thinking. I do think it's appropriately tied into MLK day, because we all have dreams for America. We want Americans to stand together and in light of SO MANY recent events in the USA which point out racial or economic divides, we need to find ways to persevere together. We need the encouragements of Dr. King today just as much as we did in the 1960's.
"Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty." - From Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech
We also need the words of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle to remind us what the military is defending,
"I’ve lived the literal meaning of the “land of the free” and “home of the brave.” It’s not corny for me. I feel it in my heart. I feel it in my chest.
So on this chilly Monday in January, maybe you can contemplate how you've been an active part of our country lately. Are there ways to serve some in your community or state? Are there ways you want to meaningfully bridge a gap between yourself and someone different than you? I think this is something we all should give some thought today.
Have a wonderful week!