Bridge on the River Potomac
A movie in 1957 taught us all how to behave as wartime POWs. Or, at least, that seemed to be the intent, with Korea just over and Our Boys not behaving sufficiently heroic in captivity, according to the usual Priams-by-Proxy along the Potomac.
I remember the film from when I was 14 years old. It was about what a prisoner of war has to do all day. These British captives maintain good discipline, and they find themselves a hobby, and they sing campfire songs, which was exactly what we were taught in school and camp. So The Bridge on the River Kwai was educational.
The hobby was the building of a bridge over a river. It was very difficult going, and the autocratic colonel in charge whipped up his men to complete it in time, and there was much diligence and dedication, and a grand celebration when it was accomplished. Yay for our boys! There was an awards show, like we had after football season.
The only trouble was, when you raise your head above the micro, the macro don’t look so pretty good. That bridge was an asset to the shipping lanes of the Japanese to Burma, which meant it was not good for our side of the question. From that larger perspective, the willing accomodation of the best wishes and fond hopes of the enemy was simple treason.
In another movie, I learned how events conspire to cast characters rather than the reverse. So now we are to again consider whether the building of a perfect structure, with its pillars of the Public Option and it’s spans of Expanded MediCare, is more significant than the span across the river. The details are so important that, like Ayn Rand’s Howard Roark, some would not allow it to be unless it fits our very exacting artistic sense of what is apt and good.
Maybe Hillary was Howard Roark. She was credited with not allowing impurities into her dream of health care reform. That was in 1993. I wonder if she feels great pride in holding out for perfection. Good on you, sayeth Ayn Rand.
In the last sixteen years and counting, however, untold millions have been left to drown in that river.
Filmography used in this diary: