In The Pitch Black; Or Maybe Not

“I will tell you what I have learned myself. For me, a long five or six mile walk helps. And one must go alone and every day.”
– Brenda Ueland

Being alone on a very dark night doesn’t mean you’re in the dark. If you’re on the walk that Brenda recommends, it doesn’t necessarily mean it has to occur at a prescribed time of day. As a matter of fact, daytime walks might be more to your liking. But time of day has little to do with your degree of enlightenment.

There have been many before we came along who professed to have their eyes wide open, yet had difficulty with any form of clarity. Of course, those were the folks before us, living life during a far less enlightened period of time. Those poor folks only had newspapers to keep them abreast of what was taking place in the world. Sure, there was the printing press churning out books, millions of them all over the world. But books were for epics, stories of adventure, and learning. While newspapers were the communication mainstay, most people found things out by word of mouth. The country was still kind of new and there were less than thirty-five million mouths to tell it like it is (or was).

The Original Voice Over Artist

The town crier was the original voice over artist. Usually every hour on the hour after dark, from gas lamp post to post around the town square to every place of importance, the loud voice could be heard giving out with the hour of the evening, and proclaiming how all’s well. And during the daytime, a proclamation might be posted and read aloud, at the town square, or the town jailhouse. The qualifications for the town crier job, or the man who did the proclamation, was much like today’s voice over artist: You had to be a good reader – actually you had to be able to read – and have a reasonably clear voice. There were no residuals to concern you with because yesterday’s news was never repeated.

In some townships, the decision making process for determining who would become the local town crier became a traditional community competition. The ultimate winner was the guy with the loudest voice.

Seeking Clarity & How Will I know When I Find It?

Explaining The English Language: Forget About It. Making my point:

“One fowl is a goose but two are called geese.
Yet the plural of mouse should never be meese.
If I speak of a foot and you show me your feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and the whole set are teeth,
Why should not the plural of booth be called beeth?”
– Author unknown

The above comic verse helps us to understand the plight of immigrants from all over the world who ventured forth to this marvelous country of ours, and discovered their own wonderful ways of figuring out the English language.

Herbert Passin, the noted anthropological scholar maintains in his Language and Cultural Patterns; no language is completely translatable. The more deeply you go into a language, the more unique it becomes.

And for every young director out there taking pleasure in an over-assumption of his or her individual communicative skills, Herbert Passin’s doctrine maintaining the inability of translating the truest of word meanings at the most sophisticated of intellectual levels, should be etched in their creative brains, never to be forgotten.

A hand extended in order to help needs no verbiage. A hand extended has no language barrier. A tear shed is universal. I remember one day in far off Korea, the war had come to an end, and, as usual, the American soldiers shouldered the most difficult of assignments. I may have still been a teenager, in a man’s body, but my mind was being permanently etched by life’s daily imbalances.

We came from all over the United States as young soldiers to this place of wounds and scars. Regardless of our backgrounds, to a man, none of us had ever experienced any overdose of merciless upheaval such as the experiences being suffered by these Korean people.

I experienced first hand, family was the most important part of Korean life. The father is the head of the family. Respect for a human beings attained position in life, was and is part and parcel of the Korean child’s up bringing. Take away the indignity and the pain and suffering brought on by the carnage of war, and we found the Korean kids to be much like children in many other parts of the world.

The mind is a miraculous work. An effortless thought is stimulated by an effortless thought. Thinking of the Korean children, I recalled a tinge of the first light being allowed to enter their lives, first as the most sparing glimmer, and then, as quickly as we could make it happen for them, the most radiant beam of hope began to brighten their souls.

I guess most of us were close to the chronological age of the children we were seeking to help. Maybe it was our youth which helped the children to quickly trust us. They all seemed to love the way American soldiers would invent all kinds of kids games to break the tensions of the day. Overnight the children learned to communicate in our language. They picked up our dialects and our unique ways of communication. And we found their pronunciation of English, especially American colloquialisms, more than just amusing. Oftentimes, it became the cause of borderline raucous laughter. Hearing a little Korean kid with a southern drawl, or another with Jersey City or Brooklyn bluster was always a tension reliever. And of course, like young kids all over the world, their minds were like sponges. They learned our language and our ways far more readily than we did theirs.

“To all out there who have experienced a seemingly impossible turn in life’s tell tale adventure of never ending hurdles to overcome; be apprised, nothing rivals the travails of the homeless child, as witnessed through the gaze of this mans eyes. No language barrier, or statement of grief can ever require more explanation than a story told by the pain in a child’s eyes forever etched.”

And so when I hear our troops referred to today as occupiers, I cringe. The term occupier doesn’t remotely fit the comportment of who, what, and how we really bring forth to others what American soldiers are all about. Those Korean children never looked at us as being occupiers. They attempted to emulate our every move. They picked up on our mannerisms, they learned our songs, our dances, and most of all, they loved to play baseball. We shared what we had, and taught them everything we knew.

Today I have many Korean Americans in my life, many of whom have recent ties to the very people who depended on us, not as occupiers of their homeland, but much more suitably considered as saviors. I’m sure there are moms and dads who managed to grow up and become nurturing parents because of the communication which managed to surpass any possible language barriers. I expect one day to have a Korean actor step forward and relay a story of how his mother or father went to school because of the help given them by an American soldier or Marine.

We had a field first sergeant that had a way with words. During the darkest of moments he’d come up with something, which came across as a rallying cry or call to arms. This guy was a huge man; standing about six foot five inches, and weighing in at about two hundred and fifty pounds. He was a classic case of looks being deceiving. When the man spoke, his words bellowed out with perfect diction. He may have been big and bulky, but it did nothing to detract from the humanness of his intellect. He was voice over personified. Pure gold. I find myself thinking about people like him whenever any of our country’s important holidays roll around. The sergeant made all of us proud to be on the same team; especially on this one freezing cold day as we made our way into a small North Korean village. The sight of the children stopped us in our tracks. Imagine the worst and you have conjured the picture of what we found. “Bring that mess truck up,” the sergeant shouted. “Assemble,” he yelled. In seconds, certainly less than a minute, we were ready and waiting for our orders. And as the sun shone threw the bleak and overcast sky the sergeant gave forth with the command, “Let’s bring some light to these kids.”

Occupiers? I think not!!

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