Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Learning from Charlie Wilson

Christmas night I went to see Charlie Wilson’s War with my mom. We both loved the movie. All of the Golden Globe nominations are quite well-deserved. The most poignant point in the film came at the very end with a quote that helped me to apply the lessons of Charlie Wilson to my own life.

After all is said and done, Charlie Wilson is credited with saying, “These things happened. They were glorious and they changed the world. Then we f***ed up the endgame.” He’s right. The United States spent about $500,000,000, and then matched by the Saudis for a combined totally of $1 billion to aid the mujaheddin and defeat the Soviets. Once the Soviets were defeated, the country of Afghanistan was in shambles. We could scrape together half a billion dollars for ammunition and weapons though we couldn’t come up with $1 million dollars to build schools. As a result, the young population of Afghanistan grew poorer and angrier. The result was what we see today, and try as we might to deny it, we are at the very least partially to blame. We cared about winning the battle though not about winning the war, and as a result, we’re still fighting. The seeds of our problems today in that area of the world were planted by our own actions in the 1980's.

This quote at the end of the movie made me consider how I look at situations in my own life when I put up so much energy and effort at the start and then question whether or not to put forward another small amount to complete a job in the best way possible. I am in no way suggesting that any aspect of my life is even remotely close in gravity to what the U.S. faced in the situation that the movie captures. That would be absurd.

What’s worth considering is whether or not we consciously acknowledge that we are in the game for the long haul. Are we willing to see a project through to completion to make sure that it is done as well as possible? Are willing to do what it takes to protect our investment of time, effort, and heart? If yes, then proceed. And if not, then maybe it’s best to not even begin and place our energies elsewhere.

The photo above can be found at

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