Friday, February 20, 2015

Oscar Edition: My Thoughts on American Sniper

 This weekend is the Oscars, and I'm so excited! Now that I have both kids in school, I've been able to sneak away to the movies during the day. And let me tell you, going to the movies in the afternoon during the week is as close to a private screening that I can get. Just me and a handful of senior citizens. 

To date I have seen the following movies (not including The Boxtrolls, The Book of Life, and Annie):

St. Vincent (which was the first movie I saw in the theater all by myself)!

 Guys, I haven't been to the movies this many times since I was a childless with disposable income!

Out of all the movies, American Sniper was by far the most moving. After seeing it, I became obsessed with Chris Kyle's story. I read anything about him and his story that came across my Facebook newsfeed. Believe me when I say there is not shortage of information on Chris Kyle and American Sniper.
I was confused why people were criticizing the lack of politics in the movie. This made no sense to me because this was not supposed to be a lesson in politics: it’s one man’s story which contains the raw and harsh realities of war on the human spirit.
I read a lot of posts and articles declaring this a story about the difficulties faced by the military when they re-assimilate back into society. This I understood because the movie did show his heartbreaking struggles.  This powerful post from OAF written by Grifter that came across my newsfeed was one of the most riveting pieces I read about American Sniper:

But I saw something more.  I saw a man who had a unique skill set and a heart that wanted to protect what he loved: a true sheepdog, as his father explained.  I think that was why he was so successful at what he did.  He was living aligned with his passion: to help people.  

This became clear for me when he was in the psychiatrist's office, and Kyle was asked if he suffering from guilt for the things he had done in war. Kyle responded, "I was just protecting my guys, they were trying to kill  . . . our soldiers and I’m willing to meet my Creator and answer for every shot that I took.  The thing that . . . haunts me are all the guys I couldn’t save."

This scene was like a lighting rod in my gut; so powerful, so pure.  It’s complicated and simple at the same time.

 My takeaway was that he was lost when he couldn't help people in the way he knew how.  But it was in this scene that the psychiatrist was able to redirect his passion by helping soldiers heal from PTSD. 

His story of living in line with his passion to help people is achingly beautiful.  I am moved that, despite extremely dangerous situations in Iraq and painfully disorienting transitions back home, he had the unwavering courage to be true to himself and his purpose.  He could have stayed on his rodeo path, but as he said, he felt there was something more for himself.

I don’t claim to know one thing about military life.  I learned a lot in this movie, gaining a whole new level of appreciation for military men and women.  And I will forever be inspired by his passion and courage to live an authentic life.

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot American Sniper Chris Kyle quote

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