“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war”

There was a shy, new moon out last night – barely cracking a smile. In fact if you blink you’d probably miss the silver sliver. Yet there was just a hint of “watch out world, here I come”.

For some obscure reason, it brought a flood of sentiment (not particularly useful while dodging traffic but there is no leash powerful enough for the beast that is the human psyche). There is an afrikaans word that perhaps best encapsulates the emotion – “huimwee”. No literal translation as such – hankering, yearning, nostalgia  … yet more ethreal somehow, a more will o the wisp thing. The what ifs, perhaps and maybe’s, different roads to take, different choices to make.

The fraility of human existence was never more clear than during a documentary on television filmed by an ITN reporter called Jon Steele and called “Baker Boys – Inside the Surge”. Based on the experiences of a company of american soldiers in Iraq it chronicles the experience of being at war in the modern age. No short sharp battle, a winner and a loser – instead a constant, draining war of minds and hearts. I’m fascinated by history and hand in hand with that military history courtesy of us war-mongering humans. I feel unqualified to pass judgement on being at war – my ground level, uncontaminated opinion is that death cannot be recommended but sadly good people die while politicians play at puppet master.

A sea of blank eyes greeted the documentary maker’s questions – “how do you feel”, “what do you think”? Optimistic to expect the truth I guess. Would they do it again – I would imagine the majority would sign on the dotted line. War generates income and in an economic recession people do what they need to to put bread on the table.

It begs the question though – what does the average 20 year old see by the quiet light of a silvery moon on foreign shores?

Baker Boys – Inside the Surge

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War – The bigger picture

I’m not naieve – i understand why countries go to war – i was young and involved with the boys of my generation who fought and died in our own own Bush War. Last night I commandeerd the television to watch a documentary called Restrepo about an american plattoon in some half ass backwater in the middle of Afganistan called the Korangal valley (the timeline would appear to have been late 2008/early 2009). I’m a history addict (recent and past) particularly military history (but you’re a girl …. yes I know, go figure). The documentary is crafted by one Sebastian Junger and is, in my opinion, quite brilliant. The typical documentary structure is missing ie background story, narrator etc etc and yet that seems to make the film making that much more dramatic. It is stark and sad and violent yet the biggest impact was the post deployment interviews – young men with dead eyes, fearful of saying too much and yet so desperate to convey their message (the irony is, according to the doccie the US withdrew from that “Valley of Death” in 2009 – what a waste).

Am I anti war? No. i’m anti the lives that war destroys – the living and the dead.

Restrepo

Flight 175, while the world watched

The title of a documentary re-airing in our part of the world. Having been a visitor to the Twin Towers and viewed with awe and splendour the view from 110 floors up the events 0f 9/11 had a ceratin poignancy for us, over and above the terrible loss of life and devasating tragedy that, in a nutshell, changed the world. The program speaks to the air traffic controllers and families of those who perished on this particular flight. To be practical, grief is grief and what these people went through is beyond comprehension. However, what touched me was the recorded conversations from the flight (and from the tower) of people calling their loved ones to tell them what was going on – there is a hopelessness, a shocking realisation of what is transpiring that grips their voices like some malevolant disease. I sat in the lounge last night, a cup of tea in hand and cried like a baby (again) – it was like watching a sci fi movie.

Do I remember where I was almost 9 years ago –  without a doubt. At work, radio on when there was an announcement of an “incident” in New York, Ran downstairs to the coffee shop and watched in abject horror like some spaced out goldfish as the bricks and mortar of the place that we had been three years previously fell like a house of cards.

“Evil is unspectacular and always human
And shares our bed and eats at our own table.”

W.H. AUDEN, Herman Melville