Monday, January 26, 2015

American Sniper vs. the Sneetches

I don't want to be a doomsayer. (Well, yes I do -- who wouldn't? -- but that's not the point.) As I say, I don't want to be a doomsayer, but anyone who reads this knows that one of my greatest fears for world culture is that we are giving up our individuality under the stress of over-emphasis on "community." ("Community" is in quotes, because I feel we are a little free with the word: that any group is awarded the title of "community" when it should be a more of a high-quality group dynamic...)

Anyway, I have lost a few social media friends because of what I fear is this migration to groupthink. How, you ask? By professing an anti-war/pro-warrior philosophy. I've written about it here. In brief: war is a hard sell for me. I respect our warriors so much that I don't want them to be at the beck and call of those who might make commitments to war for the wrong reasons. (By the way, I use "warriors" to include all who do battle; soldiers, sailors, marines, etc.)

This sounds pretty reasonable, to me. Yet, I have has "patriots" actually stop talking to me because of this view. They apparently feel that if one doesn't support the war, one can't be a patriot. Sounds to me like a prescription for brainwashing.

The lives of individuals are always more important to me than group objectives, unless those group objectives are undeniably more important than individual life. (Stopping Hitler, for example.)

I just saw Eastwood's American Sniper. Bradley Cooper was brilliant; there were some fine scenes, but, overall, I found the film left me a little flat as Eastwoods films usually do. But I don't really do film reviews unless they have a larger purpose. Like this one:

The argument over whether that film is pro Iraq war propaganda is enough to turn me into Chicken Little. The individual chickens are being crushed by the falling sky of groupthink.

That movie is about a guy who did what he believed and whose first concern was to serve his country and his fellow warriors. He, as depicted in the film, was a hero. How anyone could see that film as a blanket endorsement of the Iraq war is beyond me. It can only be a result of falling to the program of groupthink: one of us is all of us. That's not at all spooky, right?

On top of it all, I think Eastwood went to great pains not to make a propaganda film. It couldn't be more obvious to me. But it is all about the lens through which we look and my lens is my own.

I know there is debate about the film's subject, Chris Kyle, but we can avoid that for now. The character in the film is a hero.

War can only do two good things: 1) Achieve an undeniably beneficial objective (which is rare) and 2) bring out the best in warriors with the best of intentions; was can make great men show their greatness. Without these, war is a complete abomination and some wars are just complete abominations, though I am sure there are instances of the second criterion in all wars.

I swear, we're becoming a society of Sneetches. But it ain't funny.

My advice is: Don't have an American flag on your belly; have an American flag in your heart.

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