The other night while watching “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” I could not help but conclude that our war in Afghanistan is nothing but a huge inconvenience to Americans. Here is the feature what caused me to think (COPY AND PASTE THIS LINK INTO YOUR BROWSER):
At the 4:30 minute mark, Chris Matthews goes to the coverage by NBC’s Richard Engel – a man who lost his marriage due to his job covering our two wars. Engel was interviewing Sgt. Louis Loftus of the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan.
Sgt. Loftus was conveying his thoughts about his fallen comrade. No matter how hard he tried to hold back and hide the tears, he couldn’t. We saw his human side. A human side from one of our nation’s best-trained soldiers and one who has been weathered by war. The soldiers of the 82nd Airborne are trained not to show emotion, even after the death of their fallen comrades. They are trained to block it out mentally. During that interview, we saw a very human side of Sgt. Loftus, no matter how hard he did not want to show us.
I get that! I get that pain he felt over the loss of someone who you fight next to on the battlefield one second, only to lose them the next. I’m sure Richard Engel gets it. But, do we get it here in America?
It’s too bad and almost criminal that our media doesn’t get it. And it’s unconscionable that the corporations who advertise on these networks are the ones manipulating what gets covered on the news.
There’s something going on in America that I just can’t stomach, and that’s the fact that we don’t see coverage like Richard Engel’s coverage on every network on the evening news. At least not as the lead story, or not within the first 10 minutes of a newscast. Why is that?
I get that the corporations buying the airtime to advertise wouldn’t pour their advertising dollars into running ads if the networks constantly covered the war. It’s not sexy enough for them. We are a country who demands to be entertained, not informed.
But, what I see happening is America is losing its moral compass. We don’t get to see the war coverage, because it’s too inconvenient of a truth for us to see. It’s not our daily reality, so why should we be shown what our soldiers’ daily realities are who are on the battlefront?
Or, are we too “busy” to even care? Why is it that my friends on Facebook like to post their appreciation for our troops and those who died for our country only on Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, Flag Day, or whatever cause of the day may be? Are these the only days they are capable of taking a moment to reflect and think about our troops standing watch at their posts and defending our nation? Are we so inconvenienced by taking a few minutes to stop, reflect and pray for our troops and thank God for their dedication and service to our country?
The Hurt Locker won an Academy Award. It was truly a brilliant film. But nobody went to see it. I felt the movie captured the rigors of what those soldiers go through on a daily and nightly basis extremely well. Not only did the movie accomplish that, but I was most compelled at how well they captured the main character’s troubles he was having at home, once he got out of the army. He was detached. You could see the disconnect he had at home. You know why? Because he found is true purpose in being a soldier. He found his job in the Army could not translate into getting a job outside of the military. He missed his comrades he served with.
I get that! I get how he found his true purpose in serving in the military and wearing the uniform of the United States Army. I get how he felt disconnected and walked around disengaged from his wife and child when he got home. I get how he felt he couldn’t get the same work in the civilian world compared to what he did in the military. I get that, because I felt that same way when I got out of the military. A part of me died. A part of me was never able to recover what I lost by serving in the military.
I can go on and on about how our government and how our country fails time and again on helping our military troops assimilate back into civilian life. But, I’ll save that for another day.
I strictly want to focus on the disconnect that we Americans have with our troops fighting over in Afghanistan. Personally, I think it’s not just a shame, but also downright shallow. I am quite sure that if enough people cared, spoke up, and stood up to the networks and news outlets that we are being deprived of seeing this war, that the networks may change what they show. But, we Americans continue to consume what they give us on the television news, the newspapers and magazines.
It’s truly a sad day when we as a country can’t rally around our troops for a continued period of time. But, we have been conditioned that it’s convenient to rally behind our military only when we get hit by terrorist attacks. It took the events of 9/11 to wake us up as a country and rally that good ol’ American spirit and unite. It was then when our troops had our strongest show of support.
But then everybody went back to their “busy” lives. We became attached to our seasons of “American Idol”, “Celebrity Apprentice”, “Dancing With The Stars” and “Housewives Of New Jersey”. Americans became consumed with their statuses in life and their appearances among their peers. Americans got tired of hearing about our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
You know why? Because anything longer than “Shock and Awe” or the first Gulf War, and well, we just don’t have the attention span to care enough about those inconvenient truths like war. We can’t take just a few minutes out of our day to pause, reflect and pray for our troops who are in harm’s way and guarding their posts tonight. It’s too inconvenient. We would just rather forget and instead take their service to our country for granted.
Somehow I think that America’s inconvenient and forgotten war is symbolic of the demise of our society in America.