Niagara Gazette

Columns

December 15, 2013

SINGER: The hard lessons of 'Captain Phillips'

Niagara Gazette — By now the movie “Captain Phillips” (featuring Tom Hanks) has become a world-wide hit; and except for the film’s final minutes, when after the maritime ordeal, some stress-budget young caregiver barks unreasonably at the beleaguered hero, justice would be served if this one wins the Academy Award for best picture. It’s one of today’s rare Hollywood products that few could dislike.

However, this is not a film review, nor the reason for the present article. More important is how the movie reminds us that we in the developed world are currently in a struggle for survival. More bluntly put, and referring to the picture, we’re all in this same besieged boat.

If we forget the lessons of horrid terror attacks in London or Madrid a few years back, the more recent one in Boston, and multiple others foiled by determined efforts of figures like New York’s Ray Kelly, then we forget at our peril.

“Captain Phillips” reminds us that this war — not solely abroad anymore, but really, for American, English, or Danish homelands — is alive and dire. Pathetically under-armed merchant ships (due to outmoded international laws) are the least of it — the tip of the proverbial iceberg. More significant is the suicidal dithering, hairsplitting, and internecine sniping one finds in places like today’s Washington or Paris, along with a cacophonous, sound-byte media that keeps us from focusing clearly on what has become an existential struggle.

Sure other pressing matters loom, not least national bankruptcy here and in Europe; but even more so does this general war for survival, which maybe comes out OK in “Captain Phillips,” but will never be definitively done with the way things are going.

If central authorities and average citizens forget that point, then they become ostriches pure and simple. And yet, scarcely preaching from on high, I forgot yesterday, I’ll forget next week, and many of you will, too. We all want to live in an “as if” universe, lulled by TV, internet distractions and the rest.

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