The Tears Of A Strong Man
Pain That So Many People Ignore
A couple nights ago, I was reading on my phone, sitting at a cafe that I often frequent. Across from me was an acquaintance of mine, a man I see every day and exchange pleasantries with. Nothing more, nothing seemed unusual. Today was different however. Much different.
As I was scrolling aimlessly through the news headlines on my screen, he was staring through the window blankly, lost in thought, at his two young boys, 10 and 14, wrestling outside. Harmless boy fun. About 10 minutes of nothing more passed.
I looked up from the screen, a bit startled at his suddenness, to see his eyes glaring at mine. A facial expression that can only be described as menacing, yet very strained.
“I know you see me here every day. I look like a guy who is at ease with life, and nothing bothers me at all. I look relaxed.”
Looking back at his boys he continued,
“I grew up in El Salvador. In the 1980s.
Our country was at war. I saw some of the most unimaginable things occur to people. I’ve seen some of the most horrifying things take place because of the war.”
After a long pause he and looked me dead in the eyes, tears now streaming down his face, and uttered the realest, most powerful words I’ve heard in a long time.
“David, I fucking hate war.”
Words cannot express the amount of pure pain that his voice emanated. I needed not ask him of what he experienced, that was enough. I’ve read enough history and seen enough myself to know the sorts of depraved brutality that the human mind can conceive.
We interact with people every day, and sometimes we forget, everyone is going through, or has gone through their fair share of shit that life has to offer. Others still have more to suffer. Let’s not be the ones to put them through it.
I’ve spoken to several Vietnam veterans, soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’ve heard their stories, however, the pure distress, pain and agony which bled from that man’s voice that night gave his words a level of weight and sincerity unmatched by any of them.
“I fucking hate war…”
“…and then to see it come out in my own children, who’ve never had to experience the horrors of war, who never had to see what I have, cuts me to the bone.”
The reality of war is a joke to so many of us in society. Something we see on TV, in the movies, something that occurs to other people, but not to us. Maybe we need a dose of reality before we grow some compassion for others.
The victims of war hardest hit are not those who have the arguments. It’s not the instigators of the conflict. No. The people who suffer the most are those who are simply trying to live their lives, go about their day to day routine and support their family in peace.
But here in the U. S. , while we daintily skip through life, and complain about our instant coffees not being instant enough, lives and livelihoods are being destroyed, because leaders can’t, or won’t solve their differences peacefully. So the people suffer.
And yeah, we praise it as service to our countries. We give it to our kids to color in coloring books. We glorify it in movies.
You’d think that being the most intelligent species on the planet, after being here for thousands of years, we would have evolved past the animalistic nature of trying to kill each other all the time. You’d think we would be a bit more civilized and would have learned to live together and work together for the better good of everyone in the world. But no, we’ve only found more ‘intelligent’, creative ways to kill each other.
War is not the path to success. War is a sign of failure. Failure to communicate effectively, failure to respect the lives, property and ideologies of each other.
And everyone else suffers.
“I fucking hate war…”
Those words sank into my heart like drops of molten steel into frozen water.