Hate the war, not the warrior . . .
Recently, I offended one of my veteran friends with an anti-war statement. I think we patched things up, but it is so easy for any and all of us to react first and consider later, but I can understand that having people shoot real bullets at you in an environment where needed medical care might be wanting is really traumatic.
Killing one another makes no sense to me. That the powerful have the leverage to send the (mostly) unknowing into battle for a dubious cause still strikes me as a wonder of the modern world. In high school, in California, I had a teacher who really challenged us to think through the justifications that were being made for the increasing involvement (67-68) of the US Military in Southeast Asia. In short order, it became obvious to me that Ho Chi Minh was little or no threat to Orange County. It also became obvious to me that the North Vietnamese and their (mostly) Russian allies had created a killing machine that was, in its own element, brutally effective.
Racial and cultural differences were obvious and easy motivations that created superficial reasons for going to war. As a country, we have for 240 years expected every population to be a mirror image of our democratic marvel. War is just dumb. And I don’t excuse the bad guys who seem to make it impossible for the good guys to have to fight. We need to take note of a few things:
- We need to be vigilant and we need to be ready.
- We need to maintain a reasonable level of preparedness
- We need to keep in mind that our country had 150 years as a colony 3000 miles from the mother country to figure things out on our own before we embarked on our big democratic (really republican) adventure.
- We need to stop sticking our nose in where it doesn’t belong. More than once the neighborhood bully went home with a bloody nose when he tried to stop my brothers from fighting.
- We need to stop making snowballs for others to throw. Arming everyone without knowing where the guns will end up isn’t the best idea.
- We need to learn to play better with others. It seemed for a while that we could call the shots. It was a short period of time, in the grand scheme of things. Less than 50 years.
- We need to be able to admit being wrong. It’s not a sign of weakness. This America right or wrong stuff has got to stop, because it blurs us from seeing when we’re wrong.
- We need to do better by our troops when we send them off to war, and when they come home all messed up. If we do it right, they don’t have to go, and they don’t get messed up.
- We need to tone down the “hero” talk. Soldiers, in my experience, consider their service doing their job as they see it. They’re usually pretty humble. If they went “over there” did their job, great. If they raced into a burning building and brought out a bunch of kids, I’ll buy the hero label. According to some of the young guys, the whole “thank you for your service” stuff just makes those who stayed home feel better about missing the call.
- We need to make our schools gardens of critical thought. They need to learn history – in a way that admits there can be a discussion about whether what we did among the family of nations was right or wrong.
Never hate the warrior. Nobody goes anywhere to get their ass shot off for fun. They do their duty as they see it. They are only slightly more valuable than the small voice that says, “Let’s give this peace thing a chance”.