Wednesday, August 10, 2011

We Should All Be Grateful

Over the weekend 30 Americans were killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan; 22 of them were NAVY Seals, the best of the best. Although, I believe all 30 were the best of the best. In times like these, events like these, so many things run through my mind. Short stories about war like the book The Things They Carried, books like Dear America and Hiroshima. In addition to books, movies in recent years have made war seem so real, it comes to life on screen for those of us who are lucky enough never to live it: Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, Black Hawk Down, Jarhead, Three Kings, The Thin Red Line, Pearl Harbor, Good Morning Vietnam, and I am sure the list could continue but you get the idea.

There is nothing glorious about war. There have been times where the government has tried to trivialize it, justify it, and because it is so brave and courageous they make it seem glorious. No matter how you feel about our government, it should not effect the way you feel about our military. We are free every day because of them. They sacrifice their lives so our lives are safe.

More than the books, the movies, and the government, when I think of war, I think of dinner tables across America where a chair at the table is empty. And of course, for most, that chair will be filled again by that very person off at war, but for some, sadly it will remain empty. War is broken hearts, death, atrocity, killing, gunfire, the desert, and dog tags. War is all the care packages we send to people we know and love and people who we don't know but we love anyway. War is letters that we write with words we meant to say in person but never got the chance to. We hope to have the chance to say them in person.

I am always reminded of a story that a friend's husband told me about when he was at war in Iraq and came back. He said he was at Dunkin' Donuts getting coffee and the line was rather long and someone in the line started complaining about having to wait in line. He told me that in that moment, all he could think about is how happy he was to be waiting in line at Dunkin' Donuts, that being in Iraq, away from his family, at war was so horrible that waiting in line was no big deal. Wow, I wish he had told that person who was complaining that. It puts things in perspective doesn't it?

Sometimes, people in our society don't stop to think about their actions and how it effects others. They're so caught up in their own issues that often they don't see past themselves to see all the sacrifices that people around them make so that they may live as they do. People are paid minimum wage at Dunkin' Donuts so we can go in and buy a coffee for $2. People go to war so we can live free.

The 30 men and women who died embody the American spirit; they are what this country is all about. I have friends who are in the war now, they too are the American spirit, our American spirit.

It's times like these that I look to reexamine my own life. I urge everyone else out there to do the same, it's not a chore, but rather an opportunity.

What are we living for? Is it to hurt other people? Or help other people?

How are we living our lives? Can you look at your life honestly and be proud of the way that you live it? There are a lot of people who sleep soundly at night knowing that they hurt other people. They don't care because they have no conscience. Perhaps they experienced great amounts of pain in their life, pain so great that it desensitized them from feeling for others. Whatever the reason, not having a conscience, not caring, is not something to be proud of.

Look at yourself honestly in the mirror, cry if you need to, if you have the heart to. Are you jealous? Unkind? Mean? Gossipy? Do you judge to the point that it hurts others? Do you live with hate in your heart? Do you use others (be it your children or an enemy) for your own benefit? Do you not care about the consequences of your actions and what it imposes upon others? Let go of all of those things. I can honestly say I've looked at myself critically, and in the past year, there are so many things I've experienced, so many things I've worked on, and so many things I've fixed. It feels good to live life in such an honest way. It feels good to be grateful for life.

I ask these questions because I know people who live with the jealousy, unkindness, and hate in their hearts. I say this not to expose them because I would have to use names to do that. I say it because a part of me hopes that they will read this and just know who they are. A part of me hopes that they want to live better lives. Believing in God and going to church does not make you a good person. Living your life in a way that is giving and being proud of the life you live is what makes you a good person.

I know one woman in particular who lives with a lot of hate. She uses people, she's jealous though won't admit it, and she forces people to act and be how she thinks they should be. Her ideas of what is right and wrong are so scrambled up. What upsets me is how much it hurts some people that I care about. I find myself thinking how stressful it must be to be her. I mean she must really be exhausted at night, and for what? For a false sense of pride? For the joy of hurting others and keeping them down because she is down too? I don't know why, and I don't know how to answer. I wish I did know why, maybe there would be some way of helping her.

It's a shame that people die at war every day and yet those living among us squander second chances. We should all be grateful.

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