Help is a curious word for old One Toke Tom to be writing about. He doesn’t need much of it with the exception of not continuing to injure myself or figuring out how to use Instagram. As I get longer in the tooth I keep finding myself lying on the pavement somewhere or on our bedroom floor. Jan has taken care of the latter by purchasing a walking stick for me. The latter is another issue and, in the process of learning what Instagram is all about, my eyes were opened up to some realities I wish I hadn’t seen.
I was doing music videos for some Brewer and Shipley songs. I had been using video clips from a service I had subscribed to from 120 different countries around the world. There was one photographer and his beautiful model whose work I used in two of my projects. I wanted to find a way to send copies of the videos to them both. It took a while but I finally found them. They were in Ukraine. That is where Instagram reared its ugly head. They both had sites on the platform.
Being new to Instagram I started poking around. I saw some of their friends and got some insight into the lives of the people they were associated with. At least as much as one can see on Instagram. I had spent months with their imagery of the model taken by the photographer and somehow I felt I knew them. Unknown virtual friends so to speak. We all have them if we are on social media.
Then came the horror. The imagery went from friends having fun on a Ferris Wheel or riding in a convertible to cries for help and pictures of the devastation that days ago had been their beautiful lives in Ukraine. Who does this I thought to myself? As I checked out the lives of their friends I saw Images I can’t “unforget”. Not CNN footage but snapshots and unedited video taken by people just trying to live their lives in Ukraine. There were messages begging for support for the organizations providing humanitarian relief and mimes announcing the pride these folks had for their country.
Readers will know my dad was a world history teacher and I had no choice but to grow up learning about the region and its history. I really miss talking with him like I used to when I was a kid, learning about places around the world and things like the Crimean war. I couldn’t help but ask myself “are we doing this one again?” I know he would be telling me about the current war and how it fits into the history of that part of the world. And I know he would be red with outrage that there were a group of people willing to do these horrible things to other people.
“Where are we,” I thought? Aren’t we supposed to be the good guys? Good guys stand between the bullies and the rest of us. A lot of us went through that in high school. I remember those days in my young life. There would be a guy, for lack of a better name, let’s call him Carson. When I saw a bunch of guys in the hallway who always gave me trouble: tripping me, pushing me into the lockers, or something that was bound to degrade me, I knew if I stood next to Carson in our school the bullies would just pass me by. Fittingly our “Carson” went on to be the chief of police in my hometown.
There was a time when the United States was the Carson of the planet. But as time passed, politics got in the way. “We can’t be the policemen of the world,” was the rallying cry of a lot of politicians. I get that. But most of the recent wars I remember were political either for hubris or oil. Both parties were guilty. We could have stopped the genocide in Rwanda, Aleppo Syria, Chechnia, and a bunch of others. In almost all of those cases, we should have been the “Carson” to the poor folks that were being bullied and slaughtered. But we somehow felt geopolitics was more important than human lives.
Now we have another slaughter going on. It’s not here at home but it involves people that thought they could trust a “Carson” to keep them from being slaughtered. But geopolitics seems to keep us from being the good guys. All this Putin guy has to do is point a nuclear gun at our head and we just shrink. I guess growing up with the fear of WW3 has us all shaking in our boots. I wish folks would realize it has already started. It’s as simple as good vs evil. If we are going to shrink from saving good people from being butchered just because a guy in Russia threatens us with the big bomb then he will always get his way.