How Can You Run When You Know?
Note and Disclaimer: Obviously, I don't own the storylines and characters of M*A*S*H (as always, we know we wish we do). I watch the show and manipulate its characters, like most of us here. However, while some of us twist and turn, others like to look deeper into each character and find the tragedy within them.
Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are cutting us down
Should have been done long ago
What if you knew her,
And found her dead on the ground?
How can you run when you know?
He stood there in the doorway where he used to live on a hot summer day, frozen in fear and not knowing what to do with himself now that he was home. A suitcase in his hand, a twitch to his mouth, the silence to his words…it all told of three years gone by, three years in which he wasted his life and on a war he didn't want any part of.
He bore witness to too many tragedies of war, but none the more heart piercing than this thing called death. There was death everywhere in the war, he mused silently to himself. While he played a god to many, lives in his hands quite literally, he also watched as the Grim Reaper took each and every soul that he could. Some fell to his grip, others did not. Some fought back and others gave up. And then, there he was as always, standing next to them on the table, trying to get them all to be defiant and to live.
Worst yet were the civilians, most of them little children. Most of them had been running for all of their lives and knew no other way of life. Some had no shelter, food or parents. Others had no arms, legs or even lost their sight or hearing. Then, there were those that were so hated by the American soldiers, even the other Allied men fighting with them, that they had to die when they were found, to be shot dead because of the ignorance and hatred, all of them behind the eyes of men shooting in one direction for so long.
It wasn't only the mother smothering her child that really got to him. It was the injustice that these people were served by their so-called saviors. The men that were deployed to help the populace were also the same that were used to kill many innocents because they were thought to be Communists.
How…how could you run…?
He was about to knock on the door, to let everyone there know that he was finally home, but his fist remained midair and then dropped back to his side. He could not do it. He could not face the same people who had watched him leave see him now, the different person who watched people die and did nothing for them. Nothing…
The pleading and begging, the people on their knees wanting mercy for something that they did not do…
America was supposed to be a country of freedom and opportunity. To butt into another's country to save them seemed too heroic, to say the least, but it cost more lives than American blood. It cost more than their Allies put together. Counting even their enemies, the North Koreans and the Chinese, millions of lives were lost, some of them through his own fault, sitting on that fence and waiting for the chance that would never come.
Even with all those lives he could not save, there were always there he saved, mentally and physically, and that made him smile when remembering. He imparted to many his beliefs on many of these people, his words of wisdom, even the silliness, to those always searching for right, especially in him, the womanizer. After all, somebody had to keep the rock of right from breaking and it was always he, who helped everyone to believe that even with these great tragedies behind them – those that they stood back and wished for help for – there was still that freedom that those true soldiers fought for. Without them, they wouldn't be here, even him, who had helped to patch them up and bring them back to life.
He tried knocking again, but this time, he managed to succeed without feeling as if he was faltering in his courage. Within seconds, the door opened, revealing so many friendly faces, many of them who had not seen him for many years now.
"Come in, come in," they all shouted. "Welcome home!"
He smiled, nodding as he walked into the door and greeted his family. Yes, he was happy to be home, but the past in Korea will always haunt him, to the end of his days. He could tell all the people that he could, but they could only listen, nod like he just did, and say how sorry they were about the war. They wouldn't understand it.
No, no, they would never understand.
However, how could anybody run away when they finally knew the truth?
Knowing that the song "Ohio" by CSNY is referring to the tragedy of Kent State twenty years after the Korean War ended, it also seems appropriate to remember that all of us are victims in a war, involved or not. After yesterday's elections, we should all, no matter the politics or religion, remain united and not divided.