Saturday, March 28, 2009

Strangers

I met a man the other day, in a Jack in the Box. We'd gone in for dinner- My family and me- and there he was; just hanging out. He was homeless I think, But he was more just hanging out for the company. He was very nice, in his own way. But as we ate our dinner, and he got to talking, we could tell he wasn't entirely... sound. He started out with smaller, easier topics; family, jobs. He told us about the family he'd had; 'had two kids, a son and a daughter.' He rambled about a hundred different things, mind never settling. He couldn't seem to keep his mind still, always one jump ahead of the shadows, trying to connect with whoever would listen... cuz he had a story to tell.

He told us how he'd been a Green Beret in Korea. My brother was in the army, and the mention was enough for him to latch onto us. For a while, he still flitted back and forth, From the end to the beginning and back again, not quite hitting what he needed to say, what he needed to release. joined up at 17. he was a medic. met his wife through the army. He was 'always patchin up the stupid newbies.' As he talked, he became more focused, more... not really calm, but in control. the more he said, the more he could say... It hurt, watching him wrestle through the fog... like watching a drowning man struggle for the shore.

He finally got to the point he needed to say. He talked about his work in Korea, the things he'd seen.. and done. It made me want to cry. the atrocities and horrors he'd had to, not only witness, but take part in... the kinds of things that give you nightmares, that bind you with guilt for your entire life... all so he could survive.

It made me hurt so badly for him... Watching him try to come to terms with it. Watching him wrestle with the right and wrong... and not being able to quantify it. Such utter helplessness... the things he's had to go through, the harsh realities he's had to face, have left him so scarred and mutilated he can no longer think straight... 'a braincase,' by his own definition...

He talked until they closed, and we had to go, desperately needing to unload his burden. Needing someone, anyone, to listen. I have the feeling few have spared the time. He was so helpless...
I don't pretend to know what its like to do the things he's done, to carry that burden for so long. I don't know how it feels to be in those situations and, with God's grace, I never will.
But I saw the scars, the raw agony, the marks it's left on him. I felt the torture, festering in his heart; never letting him rest, never finding any peace, to the point where it felt like death would be a sweet release for him. the only rest... I haven't seen what he's seen. But I've seen the bloody mess it's left him.
There is no truth, but war is hell.

I met a man today... in so much pain, I thought my heart would break.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Inconceivable!

Here's one for ya;
When writing for mass media (newspapers, mags, business proposals, you get the gist) it is stressed (and stressed, and stressed again) that you are NOT to write above a 8th grade reading level. This is because the national reading level is apparently so low that writing anything better would be considered over peoples heads. so those of us with a broader vocabulary are stunted and put off balance by trying to use five little words to replace the one that would have fit perfectly.

AND YET- Disney channel- with its shows geared towards elementary schoolers and junior highers (though honestly probably gets watched by people on both sides of that age bracket)- regularly uses words like 'amalgam' and 'quagmire,' and no one has a problem understanding whats going on. explanations? And don't feed me a line about how our children are just learning so much more now, the schools are stepping up, kids are just smarter now. please. I still have to translate myself around people my own age and younger.

I've heard from a lot of people that its for peoples whose first language is not English, but honestly, that's kinda ridiculous. I went to a school that was 90% Hispanic, and most of them spoke English better than most 'white kids.'

obviously, the mass public can function at a higher reading level than everyone thinks. Good ol' Disney has proven that. this writing block is just handicapping us. If we were to raise the bar, I would bet nearly anything that the reading average would go up too.