today is veterans day.
my father served in vietnam. save for a few racks of kodak slides, he doesn't talk about his experience there. i don't know if he's ever gotten comfortable with what happened so that he can talk about it, and it seems to be one of those things you simply don't ask about. the slides are beautiful. they show a tropical, lush environment with beautiful trees with smooth green leaves. once in a while there is a picture of my dad working on some radio equipment. they don't show any of the horrors that i only imagine he experienced while he was there. i've never asked him if he changed his mind afterwards, or if he still thought it was worth fighting for. say what you want based off of the history books, but the people who were in it are the ones i look to as authorities on that subject matter. i'm not speaking of war in general, i'm looking at that one specifically. i think there is something unique about it.
but what do i know? i'm a poorly-read historian who is only now coming to have some semblance of political interest. i open my eyes a little here and there, and i'm having a hard time believing what i'm seeing. i'm not even speaking along party lines here--forget that for a moment. our knowledge about what is going on in the world is only as good as our source(s) of information, and the media is a business just like most institutions these days. we all have out jobs to do: what do they have to do to get paid?
while i'm unprepared to debate what's truth or fiction, i can speak directly from personal experience. i have grown up in a bubble. my part of the world, southern california, and my direct history is that of an individual who often doesn't recognize how good she has it. there are hardships i will never know. i've been irresponsible. i've had a life full of first world problems, where difficulty means i have to budget for a new set of tires for my 5-year-old car because i am commuting more now ever since i got a promotion at the bank, the one that's been my employer for almost twelve years come january. poor me.
i have to work to relate to the difficulties. i don't say this to be flip, but the devastation from natural disasters, from hurricane katrina through typhoon haiyan, i don't truly know the first thing about them and how can i ever? i empathize, i donate to the red cross, and then i take the warm clothes out of the dryer and fold them. why? because there are horrible, awful truths in this world and if i stop to take them in at length, if i absorb their weight, then my disposition is such that i would not even want to get up in the morning.
how do you handle the dissonance between your life and the lives that struggle around the globe? what is your vehicle of usefulness? how do you educate yourself? i read, but for pete's sake, what is real? fox news? russell brand? conspiracy theorists? the bbc? most of the days i seek out the truth i end up running away because i simply can't figure out who to trust.