August 18, 2017

From Many Stories- One Flag

You’ll need to go up a 141 foot pole to burn this flag

The bin Laden movie Zero Dark Thirty is being released in December. The Pentagon gave the Hollywood filmmakers the names of CIA personnel and Navy SEALs involved in the raid. I knew something wasn’t right about the controversy around No Easy Day that was published without going through a Defense Department review. The people complaining about No Easy Day were competing against him for control of the story. People who had not put their own lives in danger. I was talking to a military veteran friend the day after the Somalia pirates were killed by the Navy SEALs. The author of No Easy Day was involved in the rescue. The friend has family connections to someone involved with the Navy SEALs. He talked about both Somalia and a raid in Iraq that “Mark Owen” just briefly mentions without going into any detail. I got in the car and drove home. Turning on the radio, I heard Rush Limbaugh talking to an anonymous Navy person in Virginia. This anonymous Navy caller, working in the same job title and location, told the exact story to Rush Limbaugh that the friend told me fifteen minutes earlier. They had to be the same person. What are the odds of that happening? Only in America, which isn’t such a bad thing.

Controlling the story is about as easy as climbing the 141 foot pole in Tawas Bay, Michigan to burn the American flag. I thought of the military man and his son when the Middle East erupted. The son was afraid of sitting with his father when I saw them in a northern Michigan restaurant near the Veterans Memorial flag in Tawas, the second largest flag east of the Mississippi. I didn’t get the impression the military man was a soft power kind of soldier or a special forces soldier receiving tremendous media coverage these days. He seemed like the kind of soldier who knows he is a dog tag and number to strangers. There will be just a mother crying herself to sleep and missing only a day at Walmart because she needs the job and money.

He is the kind of guy who keeps the American flag flying like an American eagle with the olive branch and arrows in its talons, honoring the United States seal: E pluribus unum. From many – one.

Controlling the narrative for non-fiction is more polarizing than fiction. Most non-fiction is about people in positions of significant power and prestige. Most of the great fiction has the average person as the lead character, struggling and overcoming the injustices of the world. I think that’s why the stories on Navy SEALs are so popular with publishers and Hollywood. The average guy becomes a hero.

The cycle of popularity is going to end for them as it does for everyone. The excessive reliance on special forces, drones,  and on the home front social tribes, private schools, etc., is creating it own problems and not just on the best seller list. When all the pain in the ass people are outsourced to someone else’s problem, you lose the ability to observe danger ahead. An ex-con porn director can set your world on fire and get your ambassador killed, and also some Navy SEALs. The bad guys here and abroad have rung the bell so many times, it can make your ears ring. But you learn a lot about human behavior and how to apply that insight to writing a better narrative for this crazy world.

Many of the Flint expatriates returned a couple of weeks ago to run the ten mile Crim. A friend who I haven’t seen in a long time signed up for the race. I looked around for him before and after the race. I couldn’t find him and thought he must not have run it. He works in Washington and is responsible for embassy property around the world. I thought he must wake up every morning wondering what embassy is going to get burned down today. The next day I saw the results and realized he was only a minute behind me the whole way. I doubt he’s had many easy days, either.

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