Have you come here to play Jesus to the lepers in your head?

Archive for July 20th, 2007

From Thought to Story

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My wife and I have spent the last few days at her classroom.  She works and I work, and I like to have some noise in the background, so I spent some time watching, among other things, Pearl Harbor. I had forgotten just how thoroughly patriotic the movie is.  There’s a particular line I enjoy: “Victory belongs to those who believe in it the most, and believe in it the longest.”  It got me thinking…

The film intercuts old newsreels within the film in order to portray the greater, global conflict of World War II.  Old newsreels fascinate me.  I enjoyed studying WW II in high school because my teachers would show us some of those old newsreels, most of which spotlighted the efforts along the home front to support the war effort, and I’ve seen others that spotlighted the efforts “over there.”  In those years of the war, Hollywood put out movie upon movie exemplifying their heroism.  Sure, they might not be the best examples of quality cinema, but they helped maintain morale.  We knew then how quickly we could lose the freedom of this great country should we wind up on the losing end of the war.  

Naturally, I started thinking about how the War on Terror never receives that kind of coverage.  At least not on the evening news.  Most news reports simply recount the recent deaths, and touch on the argumentative nonsense coming out of Washington.  Hollywood has not produced a single film in the last five years portraying the sacrifices of our service men and women in their efforts to defend the victims of this conflict.  The narrowness of thought this suggests of the creative and influential minds in the news and entertainment industries really started eating away at me.  I thought back to that morning of 9/11, and a story began to germinate…a kind of parable, maybe…one that would take me back to the schoolyard of my youth…to the tyranny of those we call bullies…the teachers’ noble efforts to protect their students…their painful inability to do so…

I remember movies like The Principle, Lean on Me, or even more recently, Freedom Writers.  Stories where teachers overcome immense obstacles to help their students learn and love each other.  I find them inspiring and frustratingly utopian at the same time.  Most teachers are not as brave as those portrayed in these films.  Most have no idea of the violence that happens right under their noses.  They are constrained by a flawed paradigm of moral relativism.  Victims of abuse are told simply to tell a teacher, and thereby incur a greater wrath from their tormentors at a later time.  When a victim does fight back, they face the same consequences as their foe.  In their self-defense, they are punished. 

From Pearl Harbor…to the War on Terror…to the school yard.  I will let you draw the parallels for yourself. 

I am at once energized and terrified.  Energized that I have a new story to write; terrified that it will end up lingering on my hard drive, the tattered beginnings of an unarticulated dream.  I have three stories on my hard drive that are, more or less, complete.  They tell a story from beginning to end, they just need to be looked over, edited, tuned, maybe even rewritten (again), and they could be ready for a publisher. 

Every morning, I endure a voice on the inside that lectures me on the imperative need to finish these stories.  If I keep this up, eventually, I will have accumulated a stack of mere words that will have served no greater purpose than to fulfill my own ego.  Because no one else will have read them.  And I will only have myself to blame. 

Written by taj

July 20, 2007 at 10:54 pm