" /> Bill Moyers Journal: November 2009 Archives
Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Photo of Bill Moyers Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Watch & Listen The Blog Archive Transcripts Buy DVDs

« October 2009 | Main | December 2009 »

November 25, 2009

Michael Winship: A Jane Goodall Thanksgiving

(Photo by Robin Holland)

Below is an article by JOURNAL senior writer Michael Winship. We welcome your comments below.

"A Jane Goodall Thanksgiving"
By Michael Winship

Give thanks. Because this isn’t one of those Thanksgiving lists of things for which we should be grateful -- although health, family, friends, laughter, etc., would certainly all be on mine.

And Jane Goodall.

Yes, that Jane Goodall, the woman we all grew up with watching those National Geographic specials on TV as she communed with the chimpanzees of Tanzania’s Gombe National Park in East Africa. Everyone I know seems especially to remember those scenes of chimps ingeniously utilizing straw and blades of grass to poke around in mounds hunting for termites, proof that they know how to make and use tools. I still have trouble opening a can of tuna.

Goodall was interviewed by my colleague Bill Moyers for this week’s edition of BILL MOYERS JOURNAL on PBS. She began her work in Africa in 1960 at the age of 26, spurred by the encouragement of her English mother and the great anthropologist Louis Leakey, as well as the African adventure books she read as a child. “I was in love with Tarzan,” she told Moyers. “I was so jealous of that wimpy Jane. I knew I would have been a better mate for Tarzan.”

I’m especially thankful to Jane Goodall after reading the passage in Sarah Palin’s GOING ROGUE in which the erstwhile vice presidential candidate and Governor of Alaska writes that she doesn’t “believe in the theory that human beings -- thinking, loving beings -- originated from fish that sprouted legs and crawled out of the sea. Or that human beings began as single-celled organisms that developed into monkeys who eventually swung down from trees.”

She could learn a thing or two from the chimps. Goodall sees our affinity with them as like “the bond between mother and child, which really for us and chimps and other primates is the root of all the expressions of social behavior you can sort of see mirrored in the mother/child relationship.”

But chimpanzees can be violent, too, and Goodall says, “Some people have reached the conclusion that war and violence is inevitable in ourselves. I reach the conclusion that I do believe we have brought aggressive tendencies with us through our long human evolutionary past. I mean, you can't look around the world and not realize that we can be, and often are, extremely brutal and aggressive.”

But, she adds, “Equally, we have inherited tendencies of love, compassion, and altruism, because they're there in the chimp. So, we've brought those with us. So, it's like each one of us has this dark side. And a more noble side. And I guess it's up to each one of us to push one down and develop the other.”

Jane Goodall has never seen a conflict between religion and evolution. “I don't think that faith, whatever you're being faithful about, really can be scientifically explained,” she said. “And I don't want to explain this whole life business. Truth, science. There's so much mystery. There's so much awe.

“I mean, what is it that makes the chimpanzees do these spectacular displays, rain dances -- I call them waterfall dances. At the foot of this waterfall, [they] sit in the spray and watch the water that's always coming and always going and always there. It's wonder. It's awe. And if they had the same kind of language that we have, I suspect that [they would turn it] into-- some kind of animistic religion.”

In 1986, after two and a half decades of quiet research in the African forest, Goodall’s career took a dramatic turn at a conference of scientists studying chimpanzees. During a session on conservation, she said that it was “shocking” to learn that across Africa, because of deforestation, the explosion of human population and commercial hunting of animals for food, the chimpanzee population had “plummeted from somewhere between one and two million at the turn of the last century to, at that time, about 400,000. So I came out – I couldn’t go back to that old, beautiful, wonderful life.”

She now spends more than 300 days out of the year traveling, speaking out, rallying people to see ourselves as caretakers of the natural world, and inspiring us with word that all is not yet lost. Her Jane Goodall Institute works ceaselessly for the worldwide protection of habitat, and her program “Roots and Shoots” now has chapters in 114 countries, working to make young people more environmentally aware. “I could kill myself trying to save chimps and forests,” she said to Bill Moyers. “But if we’re not raising new generations to be better stewards than we’ve been, then we might as well give up.”

The worldwide chimp population is down to fewer than 300,000 now, spread across isolated fragments of forest, Goodall says, in 21 African nations. Moyers asked, what do we lose if the last chimp goes? “We lose one window into learning about our long course of evolution,” she replied.

“I’ve spent so long looking into these minds that are fascinating, because they’re so like us. And yet they’re in another world. And I think the magic is, I will never know what they’re thinking… And so, it’s like elephants and gorillas, and all the different animals that we are pushing toward extinction…

“There's a saying, ‘We haven't inherited this planet from our parents, we've borrowed it from our children.’ When you borrow, you plan to pay back. We've been stealing and stealing and stealing. And it's about time we got together and started paying back.”

That’s as good a Thanksgiving wish as I can imagine.


Please note that the views and opinions expressed by Michael Winship are not necessarily the views and opinions held by Bill Moyers or BILL MOYERS JOURNAL.


November 20, 2009

A Tale of Two Quagmires

This week on the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers looked back some four decades to his experience as a member of President Lyndon Johnson’s administration. At the time, Johnson made a series of fateful decisions to escalate the war in Vietnam, where eventually over two million American military personnel would serve. Estimates indicate that nearly 60,000 U.S. troops – and more than a million Vietnamese – were killed during the course of the conflict.

With an eye on President Obama’s deliberations on whether to deploy more U.S. troops in addition to the 68,000 already in Afghanistan, Moyers presented a montage of recorded conversations and his personal memories of President Lyndon Johnson’s decisions to escalate the war in Vietnam. He said:

“Our country wonders this weekend what is on President Obama’s mind. He is apparently about to bring months of deliberation to a close and answer General Stanley McChrystal’s request for more troops in Afghanistan. When he finally announces how many, why, and at what cost, he will most likely have defined his presidency, for the consequences will be far-reaching and unpredictable. As I read and listen and wait with all of you for answers, I have been thinking about the mind of another President – Lyndon B. Johnson. I was 30 years old, a White House assistant, working on politics and domestic policy. I watched and listened as LBJ made his fateful decisions about Vietnam... Barack Obama is not Lyndon Johnson, Afghanistan is not Vietnam and this is now, not then. The situation is different. But listen – and you will hear echoes and refrains that resonate today.”

The nation is divided about America’s mission in Afghanistan. In a new WASHINGTON POST – ABC News poll, 55% of respondents expressed confidence that President Obama will pick a strategy that will work, but 52% said that the war in Afghanistan has not been worth fighting given the costs versus the benefits.

What do you think?

  • How does the history of the Vietnam War compare to the present situation in Afghanistan?

  • What decisions do you think Obama should make regarding Afghanistan? What do you think he's actually going to do? Explain.


  • Michael Winship: New York's Tough Enough for Terrorist Trials

    (Photo by Robin Holland)

    Below is an article by JOURNAL senior writer Michael Winship. We welcome your comments below.

    "New York’s Tough Enough for Terrorist Trials"
    By Michael Winship

    If you want to royally tick off New Yorkers, try telling us what to do.

    That’s probably why the police stopped trying to enforce the jaywalking laws here years ago (as opposed to Washington, DC, where I once got one too many tickets and was sent to pedestrian school).

    And that’s why in the weeks after 9/11, my favorite sign was the one that appeared in the windows of Italian-American neighborhoods near where I live downtown. In bright red, white and blue, it read: “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. You got a problem with that?”

    So imagine how pleased many of us were when told by conservatives – most of them from out-of-town -- that we should be very afraid that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and some of his Al Qaeda henchmen will be put on trial here in New York City, just blocks from the scene of their horrific crime, the World Trade Center.

    My own unscientific survey indicates that most of us who live not far from Ground Zero and who were here on 9/11 see it as an appropriate and just venue and aren’t afraid that the trial will result in terrorist retribution. And if for some reason it should, we will stand up in righteous, rational indignation, the way we New Yorkers do on an almost daily basis, whether the source of vexation is slight or extreme.

    I immediately thought of the moment in Casablanca, when the supercilious Nazi, Major Strasser, asks Humphrey Bogart if he’s one of those who can’t imagine Germans occupying New York. Bogart replies, “There are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn't advise you to try to invade.”

    The response of Arizona Republican Congressman John Shadegg was especially offensive. After noting that Mayor Mike Bloomberg had said that New Yorkers are tough and could handle the trial and its attendant commotion, Rep. Shadegg declared on the floor of the House, "Well, Mayor, how are you going to feel when it's your daughter that's kidnapped at school by a terrorist? How are you going to feel when it's some clerk -- some innocent clerk of the court -- whose daughter or son is kidnapped? Or the judge’s wife? Or the jailer's little brother or little sister?"

    Rep. Shadegg wound up apologizing, although he insisted the point survived his insensitivity – “I think it is important to note that this decision involves potential risk to innocent people," he said. But even Rupert Murdoch’s right wing NEW YORK POST took offense, describing Shadegg’s remarks as “the outrageously shameless use of Bloomberg's children as debating points.”

    Two local politicians who should know better did speak out in opposition to a federal trial here in Manhattan, but to a large degree their motives can be perceived as mercenary. Both men are or may be running for statewide office, and polling outside the city indicates that when it comes to a civilian trial, a sizable majority has bought into the fearmongering.

    Former Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who became such a hero in New York as he walked the rubble-strewn streets on 9/11, and who has been bandied about the media as a potential candidate for governor or the US Senate, fell into conservative lockstep and told CBS News, "There is no reason to try them in a civilian court. Others are going to be tried in the military tribunal. And the reality is we've never done this before. And this is something that was pushed very, very hard by the left wing for President Obama to do.”

    Which is odd, because back in 2006, when a civilian jury sentenced 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui to life without parole, Giuliani told Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s “Hardball” that while he would have preferred the death penalty, the verdict “does show that we have a legal system, that we follow it, that we respect it. And it is exactly what is missing in the parts of the world or a lot of the parts of the world that are breeding terrorism... it does say something pretty remarkable about us, doesn‘t it?”

    What’s more, when blind sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahmanm, the architect of the first Trade Center bombing in 1993, was convicted in New York federal court, Giuliani said, “It does demonstrate that we can give people a fair trial, that we are exactly what we say we are. We are a nation of law… I think he's going to be a symbol of American justice."

    More baffling was New York’s Democratic Governor David Paterson, who told THE NEW YORK TIMES, “This is not a decision I would have made… We still have been unable to rebuild that site, and having those terrorists tried so close to the attack is going to be an encumbrance on all New Yorkers.” But the governor’s popularity is so low and election chances next year so slim he is desperate for the slightest grit of traction. A Siena College poll this week had 69% saying they would vote for someone else. At this point, he probably would allow himself to be pulled between two farm tractors if he thought it might help him carry upstate.

    Paterson’s position also seemed to puzzle US Attorney General Eric Holder – a New Yorker, by the way – who last week announced the decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his fellow conspirator here in the city. When told of Paterson’s comments, he said to the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, “It’s a little inconsistent with what he told me last week.”

    Attorney General Holder, in this instance at least, has been the consistent one, unwavering over the rightness of his decision while admitting that it was a “tough call, and reasonable people can disagree with my conclusion.”

    On Wednesday he handled four hours of often harshly critical questioning from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and then met with families of 9/11 victims. He countered the opposition’s main objections. “We know that we can prosecute terrorists in our federal courts safely and securely because we have been doing it for years,” Holder said, and the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) “establishes strict rules for the use of classified information at trial.”

    As for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – often identified simply as KSM -- and his track record of rabid histrionics, Holder said that the terrorist “will have no more of a platform to spew his hateful ideology in federal court than he would have in military commissions…

    “Judges in federal court have firm control over the conduct of defendants and other participants in their courtrooms, and when the 9/11 conspirators are brought to trial, I have every confidence that the presiding judge will ensure appropriate decorum. And if KSM makes the same statements he made in his military commission proceedings, I have every confidence the nation and the world will see him for the coward he is. I'm not scared of what KSM will have to say at trial -- and no one else needs to be either.”

    Which seems right to me and my friends who stood on our neighborhood streets and watched those towers burn and fall. You got a problem with that?


    Please note that the views and opinions expressed by Michael Winship are not necessarily the views and opinions held by Bill Moyers or BILL MOYERS JOURNAL.


    November 17, 2009

    Michael Winship: In a Chilly London November, War and Remembrance

    (Photo by Robin Holland)

    Below is an article by JOURNAL senior writer Michael Winship. We welcome your comments below.

    "In a Chilly London November, War and Remembrance"
    By Michael Winship

    In Great Britain, Remembrance Sunday falls on the second Sunday of November, the one closest to November 11th, the anniversary of the end of the First World War in 1918. Once, the world called November 11th Armistice Day. Now, here in the States at least, it is Veterans Day.

    As coincidence and travel itineraries would have it, twice over the last four years I’ve been in London on Remembrance Sunday. This time, my girlfriend Pat and I were on our way home from Greece, stopping off for a couple of days to see old friends.

    As we unpacked at the hotel, a recap of the Remembrance Sunday ceremonies was playing on TV – Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife laying a wreath at the Cenotaph (the UK equivalent of our Tomb of the Unknown Soldier), a stirring parade of veterans along Whitehall, the military bands playing “Rule, Britannia,” “God Save the Queen” and “O Valiant Hearts.”

    Remembrance Sunday fell just a couple of days after the horrendous shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, that left 13 soldiers dead and 30 wounded, many of whom were preparing for deployment to Afghanistan. From Greece, we had been watching the news reports on CNN with special interest. I’d been at Fort Hood several times – the huge military base is where my parents met during World War II; my father a medical supply officer, my mother a secretary from a nearby town. It was Camp Hood then.

    Remembrance Sunday also fell less than a week after an Afghan policeman named Gulbadin, armed with a machine gun, shot five British soldiers dead at a police compound in Helmand province. The men had just returned from patrol and had put their rifles aside, preparing for a rest. The policeman opened fire from a rooftop.

    The wantonness of the killings only further deteriorated the already plummeting British support for the country’s involvement in the Afghan war, and anger worsened in the next few days after Prime Minister Brown accidentally botched a handwritten letter of condolence to the mother of Jamie Janes, a British soldier killed last month by an IED. He, too, was in Helmand province.

    It seems Brown misspelled Janes’ name in the letter. The mother, urged on, some say, by Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid, THE SUN (which recently switched its political allegiance from Brown’s Labor Party to the Conservatives), bitterly attacked the prime minister for insensitivity. In a subsequent phone call with Brown, which she recorded – perhaps with the assistance of THE SUN – she chastised him for failing to adequately equip and protect British troops in Afghanistan. After several days of media-manufactured controversy, she accepted his apology.

    Brown blamed the incident on his notoriously poor penmanship and inability to see – he is blind in one eye.

    Metaphor, remembrance and coincidence were in abundance during our brief London stay. As it happened, the next night, we went to see a play called The War Horse. Written by Nick Stafford, and based on a children’s novel by Michael Morpurgo, the drama uses remarkable, life-size puppets of horses, beautifully crafted and each masterfully manipulated by teams of performers so skilled you sometimes forget that what you’re seeing isn’t real.

    The War Horse is the story of Joey, a horse that’s half-thoroughbred and should be raised for riding in foxhunts by the landed gentry. But through fate and the cruel reality of rural life in southwest England’s Devonshire, Joey is brought up as a farm horse, trained and loved by a teenager named Albert. When World War I begins, Albert’s father sells the horse to the British cavalry. Albert runs away and joins the army to find him.

    In the beginning, almost everyone is convinced that the war will be brief – “God help the Kaiser, because… we’re gonna run him right out of Belgium, right back into Germany.” But as a veteran British major tells a junior officer, “Every generation has to discover things for themselves, don’t they? There’s some things that can be understood through telling, but other things have to be experienced before they can be fully apprehended. War is one such thing.”

    Joey is ridden into senseless, deadly charges against German machine guns. Eventually, he and another horse end up on the other side of the enemy lines, and are forced to drag German hospital wagons and artillery as both armies fall into the trench warfare of mud and misery that will go on for more than four bloody years, killing between 15 and 16 million.

    Our current reality, our deadly dilemma in Afghanistan as Barack Obama reportedly agonizes over the next steps there, were never far from mind, even as we lost ourselves in the story and stagecraft of the play. At one point, a young British recruit is given his grandfather’s knife to carry, a souvenir of the Second Afghan War, he’s told. At another, a German sergeant named Rudi talks with a group of fellow soldiers: “They’re saying that because we attacked, we’re paying for it. They’re saying that we must get rid of the Kaiser and make a democracy. It would be impossible for a democracy to start a war, continue a war against the will of its people. What do you think?”

    In the penultimate scene, an injured Joey has been pulled from the barbed wire of no-man’s-land by a British soldier and is about to be out of his misery by a doctor’s bullet when Albert, temporarily made sightless by gas, hears him and they are reunited.

    A happy ending of sorts, but what I was reminded of was another powerful metaphor, a painting by American artist John Singer Sargent that I saw a few years ago in London’s Imperial War Museum.

    During World War I, Sargent, master of the exquisite, artful society portrait, was commissioned by the British government to go the front and create a work that would celebrate the cooperative spirit of British and American soldiers pulling together in “The War to End All Wars.”

    Finding little to none of that alleged battlefield camaraderie, instead, he painted a massive canvas – 20 feet wide and more than seven feet high – depicting a group of soldiers felled by a mustard gas attack. In hues of yellow and brown, they stumble in a setting sun toward the hospital tents, eyes bandaged, each man in the line struggling to find his way, guided by a hand on the shoulder of the man in front of him.

    The blind leading the blind.


    Please note that the views and opinions expressed by Michael Winship are not necessarily the views and opinions held by Bill Moyers or BILL MOYERS JOURNAL.


    November 13, 2009

    Human Faces Behind the Health Debate

    (Photo by Robin Holland)

    This week on the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with acclaimed actress-playwright Anna Deavere Smith about her latest production, LET ME DOWN EASY, in which she recreates the voices of 20 real people grappling with illness and mortality.

    Smith explained what her production is about:

    “LET ME DOWN EASY is about grace and kindness in a world that lacks that often, [but] not always. And a winner-takes-all world, where we don't think about the people who are losing. We don't think about the people who are abandoned by jobs or governments or lovers or mothers or fathers. [It’s] a call for that kind of grace and kindness and consideration and the metaphor, I think, of death as the ultimate form of loss, possibly our greatest fear – the ultimate form of abandonment. And that in this country we have a hard time looking at death and we have a hard time looking at loss and we have a hard time looking at losing. And I think that doesn't help us be the most caring environment.”

    What do you think?

  • Do you agree with Smith’s view that Americans have trouble thinking about death and loss? Why or why not?

  • What are your personal stories about dealing with illness and mortality?


  • A Passion for Poetry

    This week, the JOURNAL introduced viewers to Poets House in New York City, a space dedicated to celebrating the literary form that has been called “the queen of arts.”

    At the grand reopening of the facility in a large new space in Manhattan, several writers shared their love of poetry. Lee Briccetti said:

    “Language is central to our identity as human beings and poetry is central to language. Every culture has a poetry. And I believe that when people in the caves were blowing paint into the imprints of their hands, they were also chanting words to go with that. It goes very, very deep into the essence of what we are as human beings.”

    Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins said:

    “Poetry fills me with joy and I rise like a feather in the wind. Poetry fills me with sorrow and I sink like a chain flung from a bridge. But mostly, poetry fills me with the urge to write poetry, to sit in the dark and wait for a little flame to appear at the tip of my pencil.”

    Do you have a passion for poetry? Please share your thoughts and poems in the space below.


    November 10, 2009

    Michael Winship: Don’t Believe Everything the Oracle Tells You

    (Photo by Robin Holland)

    Below is an article by JOURNAL senior writer Michael Winship. We welcome your comments below.

    "Don’t Believe Everything the Oracle Tells You"
    By Michael Winship

    ATHENS, GREECE – Last Sunday, we visited the ruins of ancient Delphi, two hours or so from here in the Greek capital, an extraordinary site at the base of Mount Parnassus overlooking the Pleistos Valley, almost half a mile below. You could see the acres of olive trees there. The Ionian Sea shimmered on the horizon.

    Legend has it that Zeus released two eagles from the opposite ends of the earth. They met at Delphi, determining that it was the center, the so-called navel of the world.

    Delphi and its temples were where the famous Oracle lived, uttering its often ambiguous and mysterious predictions through a priestess who spoke on its behalf – but, our guide claimed, only after inhaling sulfuric vapors from a hole in the earth and chewing laurel leaves to get into the proper psychotropic mood.

    During the Persian Wars, the guide said, Athenians asked the Oracle how to protect themselves from being attacked by the enemy. The Oracle replied, “A wall of wood alone shall be uncaptured.” Many of the Athenians figured that meant they should seek protection behind a formidable wooden barricade. Makes sense, but the Persians seized the city anyway. Such is the price of being logical – in my experience, it’s always a mistake to take a priestess imbibing laurel leaves and sulfur too literally.

    Others, the guide continued, interpreted the oracular message in a different way; believing that “a wall of wood” was a reference to the mighty Athenian fleet of wooden ships. This time, they got it right – their navy went to sea and defeated the Persians at the Battle of Salamis.

    All of which is a scenic route around to my reaction when reading last Tuesday night’s election results back home. People were interpreting the Oracle of the Ballot Box in what seemed like very odd and exaggerated ways.

    The Associated Press reported, “Independents who swept Barack Obama to a historic 2008 victory broke big for Republicans on Tuesday as the GOP wrested political control from Democrats in Virginia and New Jersey, a troubling sign for the president and his party heading into an important midterm election year.”

    And the lead sentence of the LOS ANGELES TIMES read, “By seizing gubernatorial seats in Virginia and New Jersey, Republicans on Tuesday dispelled any notion of President Obama's electoral invincibility, giving the GOP a lift and offering warning signs to Democrats ahead of the 2010 midterm elections.”

    Without resorting to chomping on leaves and sniffing fumes, we should look at that a little more closely and not let the tide of the mainstream media and the 24-hour news cycle sweep us away. Were those GOP gains in Virginia and New Jersey really an indication that the entire nation’s shifting away from the President? True, President Obama campaigned for both Democrats, but exit polls showed voters in both states were more interested in local issues than him. What’s more, in Virginia, Democrat Creigh Deeds was a terrible candidate, and in New Jersey, although for a while it seemed incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine might rally, his dismal popularity numbers and a whopping state deficit and unemployment rate could not be surmounted.

    And look at those two special races for House seats in the California 10th and northern New York State’s 23rd – the Democrats picked up both, for a net gain in Congress of one. Upstate Democrat Bill Owens beat back an onslaught from right wingers and tea partiers – including Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and Dick Armey – who spoke out on behalf of Conservative Party candidate Douglas Hoffman and bullied Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava out of the race.

    Owens is the first Democrat elected from that district in well over a century. In fact, as the Web site Politico.com reported, with his victory, “The GOP lost its fifth consecutive competitive special election in Republican-friendly territory.”

    As for that independent vote that went for Barack Obama last year and seems to be shifting back to the right (in New Jersey and Virginia they went for the GOP candidate by a large margin), it may not be as monolithic a bloc as the media would have you believe.

    Steve Benen of the WASHINGTON MONTHLY blog Political Animal noted a 2007 study conducted by the WASHINGTON POST, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University:

    “Strategists and the media variously describe independents as ‘swing voters,’ ‘moderates’ or ‘centrists’ who populate a sometimes-undefined middle of the political spectrum. That is true for some independents, but the survey revealed a significant range in the attitudes and the behavior of Americans who adopt the label…

    “The survey data established five categories of independents: closet partisans on the left and right; ticket-splitters in the middle; those disillusioned with the system but still active politically; ideological straddlers whose positions on issues draw from both left and right; and a final group whose members are mostly disengaged from politics.”

    Bottom line: instant analysis of election results from a handful of races in an off year election is not very significant one way or the other. We’d be wise not to buy into the tub-thumping or doomsaying of pundits posing as priestesses claiming to speak for the Oracle. Or to be the Oracle.

    From a distance here in Athens, perhaps the more balanced headline was the one that appeared in the INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE on Thursday: “Election Results Give Both Sides Optimism.” The paper could just as easily have written, “Election Results Give Both Sides Pessimism.”

    Ask any Athenian with knowledge of history – you have to take your Oracles with a grain of salt.


    Please note that the views and opinions expressed by Michael Winship are not necessarily the views and opinions held by Bill Moyers or BILL MOYERS JOURNAL.


    November 5, 2009

    War and its Aftermath

    This week, the JOURNAL presented a shortened version of a new documentary film, THE GOOD SOLDIER, which explores how the experience of combat irrevocably changed the lives of four veterans of America’s various war efforts.

    One of those featured, Jimmy Massey, who served in Iraq earlier this decade, described what it was like for him to return to the United States:

    “You first come home and you immediately forget about everything. You go to McDonald’s and you go to all your favorite restaurants and you do all your favorite things and you’re having a great time, and you know… And then all of sudden you wake up one day and you’re like-- wait a minute. I’m not having a good time any more. I’m starting to think about this, and I’m starting to think about that, because all the newness has worn off. You’re home. I’m alive. I got my arms, I got my legs, I’m alive. But then the mind, the mind starts catching up with everything else. I found myself going through my gear, prepping like I’m getting ready to go to combat. I mean I even look for suicide bombers, you know, anything out of the ordinary. Once you’ve reached that level of your senses being that heightened, it’s hard to turn it off. It’s like being a caged tiger.”

    What do you think? Have you or a loved one ever been in combat? What were your or their experiences of war?


    Bill Moyers Essay: Restoring Accountability for Washington's Wars

    Update Required

    Sorry in order to watch this video clip you need the latest version of the free flash plug in. CLICK HERE to download it and then refresh this page.

    We invite you to respond in the space below.


    THE MOYERS BLOG
    A Companion Blog to Bill Moyers Journal

    Your Comments

    Podcasts

    THE JOURNAL offers a free podcast and vodcast of all weekly episodes. (help)

    Click to subscribe in iTunes

    Subscribe with another reader

    Get the vodcast (help)

    For Educators    About the Series    Bill Moyers on PBS   

    © Public Affairs Television 2008    Privacy Policy    DVD/VHS    Terms of Use    FAQ