Saturday, November 12, 2011
“Taxi Driver”, “Rambo” and “Api Wenuwen Api”
By Hasaka Ratnamalala
Recently I got the chance to watch the classic American movie “The Taxi Driver” (1976) starring young Robert De Nero. The movie is about an ex-soldier starting a Taxi Driver job in New York City. Soldier just coming from a recently concluded war (Possibly Vietnam War) and he seems to be diagnosed with post traumatic stress syndrome, sleeping disorder and thousand other sickness. While he is having a crisis within himself, he also having crises with the society.
He feels that he is not getting the respect he deserves from the society. He satisfies himself by thinking that he is doing some important secret work for the government and lives on a lie. He tries to get a girl friend who volunteers for one of the presidential candidates; but failed. Then he tried to kill the presidential candidate thinking that it is a very important assignment; but failed at the last minute.
Then he confronts with some criminals to save an underage girl who was forced to live as a prostitute. Which ultimately made him a hero by the society and brought him the respect he was expecting for a long-time; and automatically his sickness fades away.
Even though it is not much an artistic movie” Rambo” (2008) discusses the same issue in a popular way. The most important matter discuss in both these movies is, whether our veterans are getting the respect they deserve? As it is still a question in the western world.
In United Kingdom World War II veterans are still fighting to get the medals they deserve. In United States Veterans are begging in the streets, as there are no government sponsored programs to assist them to find jobs in their return. In Canada veterans are filing law suits against government to receive medical treatments for the sickness they infected during the war; not only that some of them are still fighting to get their pensions. But the poor Sri Lanka has become a role model to the world on how to care the veterans.
We Sri Lankans commemorate our veterans as war heroes giving them the utmost respect they deserve in the society. “Api Wenuwen Api” (Be together for all) a program dedicated for war veterans has become a beacon to the whole world on how to treat the war veterans. Among its many activities building of 50,000 houses to our war heroes is something very important not only in Sri Lankan standards. But unfortunate thing is no western media ever admire this trend in our society.
In this Remembrance Day what we see in the Western world is growing difficulties veterans are facing in their return. But in Sri Lanka what we see is a lesson that western world has to learn. There is a reason why we are treating our veterans like heroes; that is because what our soldiers fought was our own war but them...!
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