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I am almost all the way through Ken Burn's "Vietnam". I've watched every episode twice and I am blown away at how visceral, gritty and real it feels from my couch. And it has changed me.

My interest original stemmed from curiousity and a desire to know more about something I heard a lot from my childhood and early years. Everything from news, politicians, activists, family members and movies there was a lot of commentary about Vietnam but I had never read a book, watched a documentary or taken a class. It was never covered in any of my high school or college history classes. But by the end of the 7th episode, having watched 14hrs of interviews, narration and footage (much of which is being shown for the first time and is pretty uncensored) my tone has completely changed.

No longer is war a decision to be made, a part of world politics or a tool in the toolbox. I am completely disgusted by the idea of sending anyone to war, especially wars that are opportunistic. And I know that Vietnam did not start that way but it ended that way and it is such a profound and unimaginable and colossal screw up the direct consequence of which was the death of tens of thousands of Americans and ten times as many south east asians.

But now that I understand the parallels drawn between Vietnam and the Iraq wars I have become dismayed by government. Not dismayed, just hopeless. The corruption, lying and complicit participation in the destruction of our country by all of Washington has left me feeling without any way to fix it. The average citizen just seems completely powerless to change things. And now with what seems to be an unapologetic middle class land grab I feel doubly hopeless. Now I understand why my older peers are so disaffected.

And now I am seeing parallels between Nixon and Trump. And I wonder to what extent every other politician is exactly the same. I wish I had a metric that could reliably determine how just a politician is. Or how just a country is.

About a month ago I made laughed and reposted an internet meme. It was aimed at conservatives and it criticized the juxtaposition of the two arguments:

  1. People need to start respecting the flag
  2. of the government I am stockpiling arms against

I am now disappointed in myself for making fun of those people. And disappointed that the "educated, liberal, elite" would stoop to such a low. I am much of a fan of armed rebellion but I wish I had taken a moment to try to understand their position better and to know that it is totally consistent to love one's country, but disapprove of it's government.

But it has reaffirmed some of my philosophical beliefs. In particular honesty, justice, the categorical imperative and reform over punishment. These things I can reflect in myself and to the extent that I can show the value of to others.

And stop drawing lines and instead start connecting to people.

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