I went to see Clint Eastwood’s movie, American Sniper, with my wife last week. I was curious about it because of all the controversy that has swirled around it. Fox News and most conservative commentators raved about it, while the liberal left condemned it.
Viewing it was an intense experience. Chris Kyle’s four tours in Iraq provided compelling war footage that was both realistic and brutal. It left no doubt as to the savagery inherent in the conflict and in the psyche of that part of the world. It raised the question as to whether we would want to send our troops into such a hostile environment again. All the American blood and money spent on such operations seems to have been lost due to changing policies in Washington. Our resources might be better employed supporting our allies, such as the Jordanians, Kurds and Egyptians as our proxies in the never-ending battle against Islamic terrorists.
What was unexpected in the movie was the state-side segments. Most reviews praised or condemned the movie as either patriotic or trigger-happy. The scenes involving Kyle’s relationship with his wife, his re-entry problems, and the closing down of his emotional responses were extremely well done. My wife told me that she thought that it helped her to understand the military and their families.
The contrast between the battle scenes and home life remind us of how far removed we are from appreciating the horror of the front lines. Our complacency and failure to empathize with the psychological pain of our returning servicemen and women is to be deplored. They have seen and experienced life and death in ways we cannot imagine.
Kyle’s involvement with veterans, which ultimately led to his death, was poignant and compelling. This blog is being written the day after the defendant was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Having lived in Texas, the scenes of his funeral, were emotionally overwhelming. I do not know why anyone would object to such a display of support for the military. It is hard for some people to embrace the concept of American heroes, but we need them. Life is a battle and the world is a dangerous place. Clint Eastwood has done us a favor in giving us this evocation of those who protect us and who are guardians of our national pride.
It is all too easy for citizens to opt out and choose pacificism as their default drive when others are willing to defend them. It is interesting to me that when military men appear in the Bible they are not told to resign their profession of arms in favor of civilian life. The Roman centurions are commended by Jesus and in Acts for their devotion to duty. Likewise, American Sniper commends the profession of arms as honorable and necessary.