Saturday, December 27, 2014

Lest We Forget

I don't need to tell you the world is a mess. That is why we have Fox News. But seeing how this is the holiday season and all, I am stuck trying to figure out how to put some cheer in what has become a pretty desperate time. Telling you that Sony has decided to go ahead and sneak The Interview into some theaters and online doesn't exactly feel like a victory. I could tell you that Oakland's police body cam project has reduced the number of officer-involved shootings this year to zero. Good news, but it is as we say, just a start.
Where do we go from here? Well, one of the things that this time provides me with is the freedom to lay in bed for a few more minutes each morning, watching television that might inform or inspire the rest of my day. On one particular morning, I happened to be flipping around the channels and discovered two movies playing opposite one another: Men In Black and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Having seen them both a number of times, I felt free to toggle back and forth between the two, catching some of my favorite bits. Somewhere in that reverie, I began to piece together a common theme. Science fiction, yes, but something much more clear on the surface: mind-erasing. Both of these films toy with the challenge of "need to know." What you don't know can't hurt you, whether the threat is an alien invasion or an ex-girlfriend. It got me to thinking: Why couldn't we provide this service for all our citizens? Ferguson, Newtown, Cleveland, North Korea, Cuba, immigration, all wiped out with a simple procedure. Just press the reset button and let us all begin again. Decades of partisan bickering and racial divides wiped out with a few quick key strokes or a flash of light. What if we could all just start over?
Of course, the question becomes who gets to decide where that starting point is? When in our history have we ever been comfortable enough with one another to find that moment? I had a notion that Pearl Harbor or 9/11 might be a good spot. United, as a country, with a common enemy. That night when the United States Congress stood as one on the steps of the capitol and sang, "God Bless America." Or back when Franklin Roosevelt told us all that we have nothing to fear but fear itself.
For now, however, we can forget. Can't we?

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