Daily Archives: June 10, 2012

Most Patriotic Films #24: 24

 

“You still have a life, Jack. You wanna be a real hero, here’s what you do. You get back down there and you put the pieces together. You find a way to forgive yourself for what happened to your wife. You make things right with your daughter, and you go on serving your country. That’d take some real guts.”

 

Now for those who didn’t watch this show religiously you might be under the impression that it is only about every terrorist in the world being methodically slaughtered by a man who makes Chuck Norris look like a cowering wimp.  And it certainly is that.  And for those who did watch it, it might have occurred to you that at a far deeper level this is a study in how much can even the strongest person take before they finally break (the answer is apparently a lot).

 

But for all the corrupt politicians and traitors, there is a core of patriotism at the center of this show.

 

Part of this patriotism comes in showing that many people who like to wrap themselves in the flag (politicians especially) are not always patriotic.  That it’s action not merely words that define a person.  And this is a very American theme…we don’t care for genealogy, or family history, or “storied pomp” what do you personally do?  This partly is shown by the fact that Jack Bauer is related to and trained by traitors and it still does not corrupt him.

 

“You took an oath. You made a promise to uphold the law. When you cross that line, it always starts off with a small step. Before you know it, you’re running as fast as you can in the wrong direction just to justify why you started in the first place. These laws were written by much smarter men than me. And in the end, I know that these laws have to be more important than the 15 people on the bus. I know that’s right. In my mind, I know that’s right. I just don’t think my heart could ever have lived with that. I guess the only advice I can give you is… try to make choices that you can live with.”

 

But of course the real patriotism is shown by Jack Bauer and the members of CTU who give repeatedly everything they have (their lives sometimes being the least of what they give, especially in Bauer’s case for whom the writers invent whole new meanings for the phrase “last full measure of devotion”) so that others may live and their nation remains safe.   Also as the quote above shows, unlike most of the world (not all but there certainly is a spirit of servile following in the behavior of a lot of nations) which simpers and looks to bureaucrats in the U.N. for treaties, sanctions, and rules…Americans for we tend to care more about what’s right and act on it than what others say we can and cannot do (again there are exceptions, a lot of them, but the ideal of America is a country that does do what’s right and one that will act unilaterally to stop tyranny if we have to).   Bauer’s motives are hardly shortsighted selfishness, though they are selfish (anytime you act because you could not live with yourself to do otherwise, is, inherently caring about yourself, and that’s a good thing…long term thinking leads to selfishness like that and that leads to happy people and societies that work)…his motives are for justice and for country (though certainly not for governments that betray both…and you’ll notice his fury is often the worst when directed at traitors).  And even with all he has given up for this country, he never seems to say it wasn’t worth it…which suggests what the true value of this nation’s ideals are worth.

 

Finally as with my point in Iron Man 2, there are few things quite so American as insulting our elected leaders on the floor of the legislature and call them out as the cowards they are (which is probably why we use the scene so often) as we see in this conversation…

 

Senator: Did you torture Mr. Haddad?

Jack: According to the definition set forth by the Geneva Convention, yes, I did.

Jack: Senator, why don’t I save you some time. It’s obvious your agenda is to discredit CTU—

Senator: My only agenda is to get to the truth!

Jack: I don’t think it is, sir.

Senator: Excuse me?!

Jack: Ibrahim Haddad had targeted a bus carrying 45 people, 10 of which were children. The truth, Senator, is that I stopped that attack from happening.

Senator: By torturing Mr. Haddad!

Jack: By doing what I deemed necessary to Protect innocent lives.

Senator: So basically, what you’re saying, Mr. Bauer, is that the ends justify the means, and that you are above the law!

Jack: For a combat soldier the difference between success and failure is your ability to adapt to your enemy. The people that I deal with, they don’t care about your rules. All they care about is a result. My job is to stop them from accomplishing their objectives. Am I above the law? No, sir. I am more than willing to be judged by the people you claim to represent. I will let them decide what price I should pay. But please, do not sit there with that smug look on your face and expect me to regret the decisions I have made. Because, sir, the truth is, I don’t.

1 Comment

Filed under American Exceptionalism, Art, Civil Liberties, Congress, Conservative, Constitution, Government is useless, Long Term Thinking, Movies, Movies for Conservatives, Patriotism, politics, Tyranny, War on Terrorism

Weekly Meditation: Suffering Fools

So if you pay attention to the comments section on this blog you’ll know I have some truly surreal arguments with Paulbots.  To call these people insane morons would be to insult retarded psychotics.  And to say that I suffer fools well would be a lie.  Now most of my vitriol is not to be found in the comment section but over the phone and IM messages to friends and family.  I am not a physically violent person, but when dealing with idiots I get angry probably quicker and to a greater degree than I should and vent it out as quickly as possible in very angry and violent words.  Not exactly the healthiest of all reactions, but again, I’m not a physically violent person so there is clearly worse.

And when I stopped to think about it, and I realized the problem, for me at least is two fold.  First it’s not the single idiot that is the problem.  It’s that when on the internet, it’s one after another, after another, after another.  And then I get to go to work (high school English teacher) where teenagers never treat you as if you don’t know anything.  One idiot is actually quite funny.  Two are kind of silly.  But when your whole day is filled with idiots who spew drivel and act like they’re smarter than you it gets infuriating.  And that leads to my second problem, my ego.  I consider myself quite intelligent and exceedingly well read with an ability to make connections between everything I’ve learned…and if you ask anyone who knows me they’ll probably tell you this is not just an arrogant boast.  I’m not the smartest person in the world, but I just get tired of people attacking me with idiocy when they don’t even bother to read the volumes of facts and logic I have set forth.  Paulbots who just call me a liar.  That pompous twit who keeps changing his name in the comments who clearly lives in academia and thinks that just because I challenge academia (with reason and facts) that I must be wrong and tries to humble me over and over again with the idea ‘well academia says you’re wrong.’  And it’s just tiring.  Arguing again and again, endlessly with people who aren’t a tenth as bright as me but acting like they’re my mental equal.  Yes I sought this out by having a blog, so I am partly to blame.  But is it too much to ask that if you’re going to challenge me, to do it with facts and reason?

But, realizing I’m not that special, I figure that we all must experience this at some level.  Being confronted over and over again by people who don’t know what they’re doing and are not open to reason.  So I turned to the different holy books to try and find a quote to base a weekly meditation on.

This turned out to be a mixed bag.

Why?

Well, Lao Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching only when he got so infuriated with the idiots at court that he decided to leave China forever and was asked to leave something of his wisdom.  Christ, after three years of preaching to idiots who didn’t get it, finally broke and whipped the money changers out of the temple.  And, at a surface level, the Bhagavad-Gita is the god Krishna telling Arjuna “Arjuna, look, your evil relatives are so screwed up morally there is no getting through to them in this life time, and thus they’re already dead to me.  Go out and slaughter them—no mercy, no quarter, no prisoners—and it’s all ethically okay.  Maybe they’ll get it in the next lifetime.”

Now, as I was looking for something on how to put away my anger, this wasn’t quite what I wanted.  But, it was comforting to know that even the enlightened had their breaking points.

But I did find one quote.  Variously attributed to the Buddha or the Dalia Lama depending on which web page you find it (among others)….

I will admit that I know of know time Buddha lost his cool when dealing with jackasses…but then again this is the same guy who advised you to kill your idols.

Be grateful for your enemies, for they teach you patience.”

I know, not the earth shattering revelation I was hoping for either.  (Of course I could always turn to Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal where you find the repeated theme of Christ’s sermons was also, “Blessed are the dumbfucks, because god do they need it”…but it still doesn’t have the ring of enlightenment that I was looking for).

So onto the meditation.  This isn’t so much as a meditation for the week as it is a meditation for those special occasions.  For the week I would just click on the “Meditation” category link at the bottom and pick one of your favorites for this week.

So whenever you have run into a problem with an a string of idiots repeat this mantra.

“I am sorry that I cannot reach you with reason.  I have tried reason, I have tried facts, I have tried humor.  I am sorry I cannot find the words to make you understand.  I will continue to use these in my dealings with you, not for you, but for anyone who may be listening so that they do not fall into your errors.  And thus even though I cannot reach you, I make the world a better place by not giving into your silliness and by helping others see the truth.”

Remember one of the purposes of this symbol is to remind you to look for the truth of things even when you disagree with 90% of the rest of what the person says.

Okay, it’s a little sanctimonious, and please don’t use it before you have checked over every point of your own logic, checked the argument you’re being challenged with for even one valid point, and verified that logic with people whose intelligence you respect.  You need to check your thoughts to make sure they are correct before you get angry at others, otherwise your frustration might need to be directed at yourself for not checking your own reasoning.  We’re all subject to flaws in our lines of thought.  However we are also all subject to idiots who don’t even take the time to check their own thoughts.  And this is where this manta comes in.

Leave a comment

Filed under Dalai Lama, Faith, God, Happiness, liberal arrogance, Meditation, New Age, People Are Stupid, Prayer, Reincarnation, Religion, Spirituality