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Monday, 14 November 2011

La Biche and Papa Boule were real actors

     My Remembrance Day flic this year was a film called "The Train." It is the story of a group of French resistance fighters who plan to 'de-rail' a German Colonel's attempts to ship a fortune's worth of French paintings to Germany at the end of World War II.
     A French railroad inspector named La Biche, played by Burt Lancaster, along with an aging steam locomotive engineer, by the name of Papa Boule devise a plan to bring the trainload of paintings back to France. They do this right under the noses of the Nazis by changing signs at railway stations, steaming ahead at full speed through air raid attacks, and using the railway switches like magicians.
     These were actors whom people could look up to. The black and white close-ups of their faces, pock-marked with the scars of daily life and stained with train soot, and their steely expressions of unrelenting resistance to the evil that was Nazi Germany are works of art. Those were the days when actors were real heroes, and they had little to say about how people should lead their lives.
     Today, Hollywood is like a religion, sermonizing on everything from animal rights to gay marriage, and many people follow like drunken sheep proclaiming its teachings to the letter. Many actors can't keep a marriage together, and plaster their lives all over the covers of seedy magazines, which peep out at you beside the cash register at the super market. Hollywood is a hotbed of irony and so-called humour, which on closer inspection is in reality, an attempt to discredit religion and establish a secular society based on relativism.
     Do yourself a favour and go out and rent "The Train." Watch real men in action, men who led by example and then kept quiet about it. These were men who did not know much about political correctness, but who knew the right thing to do. They knew right and wrong and they did not joke about it. They knew the meaning of true love between a man and a woman, and they knew the value of the family. They respected tradition and the importance of knowing what is right and what is wrong. But above all else, they knew the meaning of loyalty, and staying the course.
     So many people today rely on the media to tell them what is right and what is wrong, and behind its facade lies a culture of death which allows, even promotes the killing of fetuses, and has little respect for illness and old age. Papa Boule was old, but he was respected by all his comrades and despised by the Germans. When it was time for him to push the throttle and roar through an air raid attack at a French station, people questioned his tenacity. He leaned his blackened rotund face out the window, and his eyes blazed with defiance as he said, "Watch me!" It was an honour for him to be shot in a firing squad because he had foiled the German attempts to steal the art from France. La Biche watched him die and then vowed to keep the art in France, even though it did not mean that much to him, but as a tribute to the life of Papa Boule.
    These are the types of people I think about every Remembrance Day, when many around me are wondering why people are standing in silence, with their heads bowed, in respect for the ways of the past.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Lack of respect for ritual

    More and more people are losing their respect for ritual. For example, Remembrance Day has become an embarrassment, unless you are at an official function, and even then, it can be challenging. Society does not like to be told what to do, especially if it infringes on its phone, texing or workout time.
     I was at the gym at the time of the two minute silence at 11:00 am sharp, November 11, 2011, and many people continued working out even though there had been a public announcement. There was rap music playing in the background, and it was very difficult to concentrate on the immense sacrifices which had been made for us over the years, and to give thanks. It was as if people were saying, "Who cares?" I found this very demoralizing and difficult to accept, and it affected my own concentration and sincerity very much.
     But then again, this lack of respect for ritual seems to be a result of the secularization of society. People are afraid to use the word "God" in public, and to be seen standing at attention, and seemingly praying for two minutes in public is almost an offensive act. Where will this all lead us? If we cannot pay our respects to the thousands of soldiers who gave up their lives for our freedom, then what is the meaning of freedom in the first place? And what value does freedom really have if we are afraid to show our deep gratitide to God, even at national ceremonies, which are covered by national television, and which seem to be deleting any reference to God, and the afterlife more and more as the years go by?
    Many of our veterans died for both God and country. Even in a secular society, we would be sadly remiss if we did not acknowledge this on Remembrance Day, by respecting ritual and praying with reverence to Almighty God. Otherwise, we insult the memory of our veterans, and we desecrate the meaning of the freedom we all enjoy every day.