“World War I. German Soldiers wrote poems about the bravery of British Grunts. Admired them. Almost as much as they laughed at the British High Command who just wasted those same Grunts by the hundred-thousand. A German General wrote, “Nowhere else have I seen such Lions led by such Lambs.” -Dr. Malley (Robert Redford, Lions for Lambs)
Only I could have experienced the emotional rollercoaster that occurred tonight before, during, and after attending a special free screening at my college of Lions for Lambs, which turned out to be one of the best executed films on politics, media, and military that I have ever seen.
I walked in having politicized this event in my mind even when I have a deep reluctance when it comes to showing up to events and politicizing them specifically. I planned on getting 50-100 signatures for Dennis Kucinich, signatures which are desperately needed here in Illinois right now because 3,000-5,000 signatures must be delivered to Springfield, Illinois so that he can be on the ballot in the February 5th primary. But I let my reservations get the best of me and walked home afterwards in the rain cursing at my failure.
The film is a must-see and an opportunity for college students like me to really go after people and get them to change their apathetic or shallow ways of thinking by addressing military recruitment, the draft, poverty, and what it means to be a good citizen. I could go through and tell you all the ideas that came through in the film, but I do not wish to give away the intricacies and underlying messages within that are staggeringly profound. However, I will impart one message to you that struck me so hard that I am deeply unhappy that I did not act after hearing it.
There is a student in the film who talks with Dr. Malley, Redford’s character, about his attitude. The two break down ideas that those who are less privileged are fighting a war for privileged people so that those privileged people can sit back and live easy. What comes out in this discussion is the best advice from Redford’s character that I could give anyone: better to have tried and failed than to have failed to never try.
That piece of advice should have had me standing up on my feet saying Kucinich is for defunding the Iraq war now, he didn’t vote for the Iraq War authorization, he’s against war on Iran, he favors a Department of Peace, and he needs our support so he can hold the rest of the candidate’s feet to the fire. After they talked about voting for Hillary, I should have said anybody but a Republican is ridiculous and in a Democratic primary election, we should pick the best Democrat before we prepare to beat Republicans. I could have brought up impeachment and the American Freedom Agenda Act. But I let my fears overtake me and tell me that I shouldn’t make a “scene.” I chose to let the panel do the talking and not take control of the discussion that followed the movie.
Shame on me! I was the one person in the room that had the answers but refused to speak up. I’ve been campaigning for two months where I’ve been to five or six rallies, spoken at one, and walked around petitioning. I should have spoken up because in these times of dire need, when we are given an opportunity to speak, we must speak up! We can no longer be courteous or considerate. If we are confident in our convictions, we must appeal to others looking for people to lead them out of the darkness.
I know I am not alone. I know other people have gone to panel discussions, Q&As, rallies, etc. and had the opportunity to speak but refused. And I am sure people regretted it. But I regret it because I know that it is better to have tried and failed than to have failed to never try.
I let myself be a victim of everything I claim to stand up against. I've said we should just act because if enough of us protest and call our leaders and keep on fighting the good fight than we will get noticed and win. I've said support this and support that. I've said vote for Dennis Kucinich and forget if he can win or not because if we all believe in him and vote for him, than he’ll win. But then I let the imperfections of this nation get to me and mute my convictions.
I worry about being polite! Damn me for caring that I may hurt a politician's feelings when he or she refuses to save our troops who are in harm's way and need to come home!
This kind of thing is what government, free market entities, big media, and the military-industrial complex hope for us to do. They hope I sit in these screenings and be a good little American and keep my mouth shut and let people vote for Clinton because at least she’s not a Republican. But to them on this day in writing before the eyes of people I declare...
...Never again. I record this moment for me to remember so I can always be true to myself.
For if I fail to be true to myself, I fail to be true to my fellow countrymen who stand up and fight the noblest fights even when they know they might lose like lions for lambs.