I was in grade school when I was first exposed to the violence of men in any kind of ‘real’ way. I got up from bed and went into the living room where my mother was watching the late evening news. A clip was being shown of two American soldiers holding/dragging a thin and wounded Vietnamese man between them. One soldier pulled a pistol and shot the man in the head. He dropped to the ground. I turned, went back to my room, and lay on my bed, numb.
I eventually concluded that the natural world has its own reality that makes sense since its cycles of life and death follow an ecological flow and serve a purpose; birth, growth, propagation, death, decay, and regeneration serving to ensure the continuation of verdant life on earth. The reality man imposes over this natural one is very different. It is a reality infused with emotions and motivations which have little to do with natural life cycles. Humankind causes its own suffering through political interactions and short-sided choices as our history of invasion, subjugation, and over-consumption of resources illustrates all too clearly.
Will we ever learn? Ken Burn’s Vietnam documentary begins Sunday, September 17th.
Artwork by outsider/folk artist, Aurence.