This Happened In My Lifetime?

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I rarely go to violent movies – I hate to watch gratuitous action with blood and guts. It makes my stomach hurt to see it on screen in front of me. I prefer my entertainment to be to be entertaining, not physically debilitating, thank you very much.

So watching Selma felt like a punch in the gut for me. It was painful. It was difficult. It was amazing.

My emotions were close to the surface going into the movie. I lived through that period of history. I was only 5 years old and relatively unaware, but I remember the news broadcasts. I remember the conversations. I remember being shocked by what I heard. How was it that some humans could be so awful to others? I didn’t understand it. And I grew up with plenty of violent images on the news – from Vietnam, from the Kennedy Assassination – very little filtering or concern about how the graphic nature of the news would affect children. It’s probably why I made it a policy with my own kids to turn off the news – it scarred me when I was young.

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From the first few minutes, where a bomb destroys a church killing 4 little girls, to the attacks on the peaceful marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, I felt every impact as a blow to my own body. I flinched. I hurt. I was distraught.

This is the kind of movie that evokes strong feelings and reactions. It is designed to make you a part of the scene and it succeeds. I found it both impossible to watch at times and impossible to look away. That part of our history needs to be witnessed. It needs to be remembered.

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Today’s situations in Ferguson and Florida and New York are all reminders that we still have so very far to go. That in my lifetime, we have not come far enough. I am disappointed and embarrassed to see that we are not doing better when it comes to getting along as human beings. In many respects, we have more divisions than ever – race is just one.

I’d like to think that we know better now. I’d like to think that progress has been made. But when I read headlines that could just as easily have come from 1965 as 2015, I feel discouraged. How is it that we still can’t get along with our own kind? We are all part of the human race, people. We all work the same way – we bleed, we breathe, we love, we die – no matter what color we are, no matter what god we worship. And yet…we still make distinctions based on external factors.

I left the movie with a lump in my throat. I found it hard to speak. I wanted to tell my son about what I remembered from that time of my life – I was, after all, just a child. But I needed to tell him that I lived through it and I did remember bits and pieces of it. And that it hurt to watch such a painful episode of our history. And that current events showed us we still have far to go.

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I know I will never think of voting the same again. It is a privilege for everyone. We need to exercise that right every election and remember – for some, it cost them their lives. It’s a right we need to protect and respect. It’s the only way to honor those who had to sacrifice so much to get there.

Take the time to see the movie – this is a great day to go. Take the time to feel the powerful emotions. And remember – we have more to do. We can do better.

For more information on the March to Selma in 1965, please see here.

4 thoughts on “This Happened In My Lifetime?

  1. I want to see this movie, and I want my teens to go with me. I think it’s something everyone needs to see, because you’re right–we have more to do and we can/should do better. Much better.

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