Just finished my annual tradition of watching the film “Taking Chance”. If you haven’t seen it..you should.
Watch it on Memorial Day, or any day you need to remember that humans have an innate kindness that too often is masked by self-centered, superficial behaviors we think we need to survive.
The story is about a Marine Colonel who decides to escort the body of a fallen soldier. In great detail, it shows the tragedy of the death, the care taken to honor his remains, and the impact on his family.
The scene that has the greatest impact on me is the drive back to the soldier’s home in Colorado. Truckers, families in vans and other travelers jump out to pass the slow moving hearse only to see that it carries a casket draped in the American flag. They all fall in to join the procession, turning on their headlights and taking him home. That moment in the movie reminds me that these people didn’t know if the soldier was black, brown or white, what his sexual preference was, or whether he was a Democrat or Republican. They just knew he was a soldier whose life was taken, and he deserved to be honored.
Modern humans tend to require some sort of tragedy before we remember what is important in life – family, friends, love, and taking responsibility for our actions. We saw this across the United States after 9/11. People came together, families reunited and we were thankful to those whose bravery saved lives. Then, we slowly but predictably restored our self-centered behaviors – fighting for the fast lane, partisan bickering, hating those who don’t worship God the way we want them to…
I watch this movie to remember fallen soldiers, and to take me back to the life I remember growing up. Our extended family shared a small ranch, including great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. We were surrounded by love, supervision whether I wanted it or not.. and lessons learned by watching adults who worked hard, were honest in their dealings with others, and had pride in their family members – warts and all. I miss being around people from my grandparents’ era. They lived through a real economic crisis during the Great Depression, when safety nets didn’t exist. They knew how to lend a hand to neighbors, friends and strangers; to stay grounded, and to take responsibility. And they knew how to have fun interacting with friends and families. Dinner parties, family birthdays, dancing – things that people can enjoy regardless of economic status. I couldn’t wait to be a grown-up watching how they celebrated life.
After watching this movie, I turned off the TV for fear it would be followed by some “news” of the Kardashian-West wedding, accounts of the recent massacre in Santa Barbara, or food critics who pride themselves on glutenous demonstrations of food consumption. I didn’t want to watch political campaign slogans that distort the candidate’s true background or intentions – and I didn’t want to see our highest elected officials grandstand on Memorial Day, knowing they would resort to business as usual on May 27th. I didn’t want cynicism to overtake the profound feelings of belief in human kindness and goodness I was experiencing.
Millions of people from around the world risk their lives to come here; not because they want freebies or to be taken advantage of – in the workplace or the voting booth. They come here for our freedoms to vote, worship God – or not – as they please, to achieve an education, and to have the opportunity to work hard and make life better for themselves and their children. I intend to work or volunteer until I can no longer peck at the keyboard or use my voice, to stand for candidates, business owners, laborers and volunteers who have kindness in their hearts and the pure intent to do good. I want to help people find those attributes that I know exists in every human being.
People just want to be loved, or at least noticed. We can all do our part to find some peace and happiness for the humans and animals that surround us during our life on earth. If you haven’t yet found your inspiration, be it a movie, book or special person or critter in your life, I hope for you that it happens soon, and that you find the love you deserve.