Does it Always Seem that Way

Does it Always Seem that Way

I watch a movie about Hemmingway and Martha Gellhorn in Spain filming the flood of volunteers from myriad nations flowing to stem the fascist flood. Heroic, morbidly beautiful, somehow unaware of the futility of their sacrifice but remarkably memorialized eighty years later; the horror filmed but somehow filtered to permit the sheen of doomed nobility to transcend death.

Then I read about the inexplicable flood of volunteers streaming to join the mayhem in the Middle East, their eyes glazed with visions of heaven, and god and angels; perhaps with memories of lost companions, or lost fathers or brothers or sons or mothers or wives. Fighting for a cause impossible to understand, at least from where I sit but for which they’re all too ready to expire.

Politicians call them cowards and terrorists. I wonder what the fascists called all those young people who flooded Madrid those many decades ago. Those we perceive as martyrs today; beautifully noble, surely doomed and perhaps knowing it. Did our politicians also see them as cowards and terrorists?  Certainly at least some did and others probably thought them feckless fools, unless of course, one or two were their children, but; then as now, that would have been extremely rare. Were they right? Are they right now? Or is there something I just can’t grasp, that I just can’t process about today that seems so clear from the perspective of so many yesterdays ago, so many, many futile yesterdays ago.

Why is it so clear to those who so clearly throw their lives away and so obscure to those of us who cavalierly scoff as safely from afar we watch them die; patriotically paying our taxes to assure that it is so? The cause they serve seems so clearly evil. The destruction without fathomable cause or purpose, so completely uncivilized, and messy, and dirty and profane.

And our cause so clearly just.

Does it always seem that way?

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2015; all rights reserved