This talk is exploring the Wound in you and me. Vietnam is our wound in American Culture that split us into two equal halves, and we can’t find our Center because we blame the other half of us for pain and dismemberment. My reference is Mount Golgotha, where the Son of Man hangs between two thieves, the split sides of America, each one claiming to be the True One.Oh, watch the KB series. Put on a wide angle lens to watch how today’s America was created. If we are going to understand ourselves, we have to see how we create ourselves. This is American Culture in its best and worst. This is the crack in our Cosmic Egg, the Vietnam War, and all the kings men can’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
American Culture in the 50s was a paint job of civility and avoidance. You couldn’t say the word “pregnant” on TV. The body and any reference to it was taboo. Elvis was a demon who dared wiggle his suggestive hips. The women were going to be let out of the kitchen and all hell was going to break loose…and it did. We lost out center in Vietnam….but that center was false. We have yet to find our new center because we have to create it out of the ashes of. Vietnam.
I see an ironic parallel between the civil war of Vietnam where the North fights for the union of the nation, against the puppet government of a Western civilization and Korea, which is still cooking on the stove of history, a left over from the Cold War that is still hot. I even connect the dots of. Vietnam with the left-overs of our own civil war where the North fought the South to save the Union and make America One. Our politics and cultural division still reflect this wound that never seems to heal.
The truth I have found is that Culture IS a wound, no matter what the culture, and that those who sincerely want healing have to turn within. We are the culture and the culture is us. It is through this wound that compassion is born, and through compassion, through the suffering that we can create ourselves again. The suffering and the healing of America is One through the lens of Ken Burns.
We say Good Morning Vietnam through the wide angle lens of Ken Burns…oh, his name is a good metaphor for his documentaries about us…for it burns like a laser into the heart of our darkness. Many will not want to see this wound in our side, for who want to look at a wound that is still fresh, still bleeding. Just as we don’t want to look into our own pain body, we don’g want to look into America’s pain. And because we refuse to look and feel the raw pain exposed, the cover up continues, each generation of politicians created a buffer to our pain by blaming something or someone else for it.
We have no one to blame but our good intentions. And that’s the Catch 22 right there, both in us as individual and in our culture. We all have good intentions. It is good intentions that hung the Son of Man between the two thieves of the Right and the Left, the North and the South. Good intentions to r predict and control reality always wounds readily, always wounds the Son of Man.
We must feel the. pain that is us, feel the raw wound from the heart of compassion, compassion for our suffering history, for our suffering people dead and now, compassion for this self inflicted wound in our side, compassion for a good nation that crucifies itself. As long as we blame another for our wound, the wound continues to bleed. Turn the other cheek means see both sides as One, and one can only see both sides through the pain that has no blame or cause. Seeing into the chasm that is the wound of Vietnam is seeing into the suffering of Man. Only this direct and unblinking seeing can cauterize this wound.
All life is suffering said the Buddha: All life is crucified, says the Son of Man. Seeing both sides as One both accepts the pain and transcends the Pain because that Seeing is not the would. They eye that sees the wound is not the wound, yet it heart feels the wound and drips not blood but healing tears.