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  • Earle Levenstein

So You Thought You'd Seen It All?



First movie I remember was One-Third of a Nation. I must have been around seven. Opening scene was of a New York tenement on fire; fire engines; lots of screaming; flaming people leaping out of windows. I hid under my seat. Why my Mother took me, I'll never know.The movie had to do with poverty-stricken millions; no jobs; starving families; no future; hopelessness. Scared the hell out of me; I don't know if I came out from under the seat; but thanks to the blessing—or curse—of my visual image storage bank, I can still see those people burning alive.

At about the same time, I remember the grisly picture cards of bloody soldiers being blown apart that were packed with the bubble gum I bought. Baseball cards didn't return until the war ended.

Added to all that were newspaper photos and newsreels of detention camps the government built for Japanese families; many of them U.S. citizens. A fear-motivated and later deeply-regretted act.

I also heard radio broadcasts; angry people at rallies, espousing lots of really unsettling political, racial and religious views about our fellow Americans and the prospect of total disintegration.

Filtering through slowly and then gathering momentum were reports of concentration camps; ovens; as the war went on and then confirmed horrifically when the war ended.

Millions had been killed.

We've seen armies; mobs; terrorists; an individual bomber; a sniper in a tower; a murderer targeting attendees at a concert…an athletic event. We've seen everything. Right?

Wrong.

Whole new scenario; catching on nationally.

Basically, it involves a young man, barely adult; who selects a particular school as his target, plans carefully, arms himself for a war-like invasion, enters and shoots and kills as many schoolchildren as he can.

Horrifying.

Why? Why? Why?

Theories abound.

Guns? You bet.

Pathology? You bet.

Envy? Rage? Frustration? Hatred? Family? Fame?

The line forms here.

What to do?

My dream? A hallucinatory episode:

We—that's all of us—sit in a very large circle and with shared love and respect and thoughtfulness and kindness and tolerance and thinking nothing but the good thoughts…join hands and sing Kumbaya and a heavenly choir joins in and I smile a thankful smile and then…

I drift into a different dream and I hear someone shouting at me; in a not at all sweet Kumbaya-tone of voice: C'mon down from dream-land, pal! Get real! Just take a look around! See what's happening? This is it! The new normal! and he laughs and laughs…

And I do look around and then I pull the blankets over my head and I go back to sleep.


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