When you think of a casualty what is the first thing that comes to mind? This writer connects it to war and loss. Well there are many types of wars and even more types of loss.
As we age our relationships and connections change, they evolve at an astounding rate. Perhaps we notice the changes more so because of what we are preoccupied with, CHANGE. I was reviewing photos and articles surrounding the March on Washington and came across something that “blew my mind”. There is so much amazing and rich history surrounding that event that one should not be surprised at what they see, but fifty years ago I was not quite 4 years old. Alive but not aware of the world outside the protective walls of my home and the arms of my parents.
There in the midst of my scrolling through pages I came across a shot of James Baldwin, he was flanked by what was considered “Hollywood Royalty” . I sighed and wished that people cared about one another again. I wished that we could look outside our own personal needs. Then I symbolically shook myself; I had to go back to that photo when I realized who I saw in that same photo and I had to confirm it. There he was James Baldwin small, in stature only, with Marlon Brando on one side and Charleton Heston on the other. Gun toting, “they can pry it from my cold dead hand” , NRA poster boy, Charleton Heston! Now I grew up with Charleton Heston attached to the image of Moses; surely you cannot play a good man, a man of God like Charleton Heston did, and not be “good”. However in adult life I saw another side of Mr. Heston, and I didn’t like it or HIM anymore. After learning of his politics and affiliations with the NRA and his stance on guns, as much as I LOVED ” The Ten Commandment” I could never quite view the film the same.
I asked myself what happened to the man who was pictured attending and participating in an event that screamed to the United States of America and alerted world JUSTICE, EQUALITY, and FREEDOM must be for all or none truly possess it. The first thing that came to mind was he got old, a casualty of age. He was not unique for if we are fortunate enough to continue living, age will take prisoners of us all from one aspect or another. Yet we eliminate or overlook the positive aspect of aging, we look on and fear loss of the familiar.
You see it all around; in politics it is especially clear, we put these people in office because they “SAY” they understand us and know what we want and need. Adamantly insisting “THEY” will deliver. “THEY” lie, practically(I am being generous here) all of “THEM”. Once they have secured their position they go about and pursue their own agenda and at the top of that list is to make sure “THEY” have all “THEY”want need and desire… and we look on with shock and anger.
I wanted to be amazed by Charleton Heston, but then I realized I actually knew about him and the March on Washington. I had chosen to have selective amnesia, I could pull it off because I am becoming a part of the group I refer to as “older”. There it was my built in excuse. My conscious would not allow me to overlook the fact things that I exuberantly sought out in my 20’s have now somehow lessened on my priority list in my 50’s.
Today I want to challenge you to think beyond yourself; think of your children and grandchildren, remember being younger having hopes and dreams. Think of what or who came into your young life and tried to bash the gifts of your youth for no apparent reason. Gather those thoughts and look at them closely; recall (and admit to it) thinking “old bastard” and know now someone sees that in you when you get ugly especially. On the flip side to the younger folks who read this, if you are fortunate, your day is coming; the next gray haired individual you cut off in traffic, chose to use offensive language in the presence of with NO regard, the very image/representation of your parent or grandparent today, WILL be you tomorrow. Keep having hopes and dreams of something beyond YOU. Resist becoming a casualty.