Wednesday, September 11, 2013

#254 / Dying For

From time immemorial, patriots have been asked to die for their country. Martyrs have been asked to die for their faith. Such sacrifices have been considered noble, and as representing the highest expression of moral conduct. Young men and women are asked today, as in years past, to make such a sacrifice, and to be ready to die for their country, and for their faith, and for freedom. 

And they do. 

But let us be clear.
Dying for your country,
And dying for your faith,
Is different from

Killing For Your Country 

Killing For Your Faith

Is that what a grateful nation really asks, that young men and women should become killers for us? Is that what faith wants from young men and women, in every part of the world?

If this is the real request we make, I doubt it is one we should celebrate. 

A request to go kill others, in place of those who issue that request, is not a request that young men and women should honor. It is not an honorable request.

Preparing oneself to enter danger and to be ready to die, to advance freedom, or the truth, is one thing.

Killing other people is quite another.

And so,
Our armies of tomorrow
Must be nonviolent.

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  1. Gary, I understand what I think you mean. After all, here I am up late thinking about who I want to write about what I want to say about an attack on Syria, for example. I shouldn't be up late worrying about this...but welcome to our world of instantaneous communications 24/7!

    Now for my response: We do not request our personnel to go kill anybody. If we did, then we would probably find a lot fewer people going into the military! I could be naive here, but I think most of our military personnel and especially our young persons believe in doing the "right thing" and being honorable, and because they have signed up to serve (no more draft thank gawd), they do it with the notion that they are doing something greater than themselves for a greater good. The problem as I see it is two-fold: lack of education (which oh by the way our respective government entities from fed to local continue to make education difficult to access), and slangy propaganda which our "news" entertainment matter how serious or conservative or knowledgeable they LOOK, perpetuate!

    I think those that serve in the military deserve recognition, but then wait a minute...I also think anyone who signs up to do work for the betterment of the world deserves recognition. ALL lines of work can be deadly! Let's review: teachers...Columbine, Sandy Hill....we used to think that was merely a thanklessly underpaid job. It is also deadly. PG&E line work, bronco busting, hooking...pretty much every line of work can be deadly one way or another. So choosing to serve in the military is in this respect just another job, yet culturally we choose to single them out as somehow more honorable than other workers. Why? Because some of them die on the job? No, but because there is this persistent myth that getting maimed or killed while serving in the military (including countries we are not even at war with) is...noble. How about an army of peacemakers for a change?...just a thought. I will say though, that the military is a bit like enslavement: once a person has signed up they have very little control over their destiny for a period of time...even "opting out" is a punishable crime.

    From my perspective, every person who chooses to serve in the military, and for that matter, every person in the United States, should be apprised of the fact that we are deploying our brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters to face a very real likelihood that they will be killed for absolutely no real humanitarian reason at all. Rather for political, industrial, or corporate gain reasons.

    But one has to know how to ask the right questions, do the research, be informed, then make the best decision for him/herself - about the likelihood of killing another human.

    Fear's kept us in the business of warring for centuries. Still listening to it around Syria.

  2. Dear Anonymous:

    I appreciate your comment, and agree with many of the things you say. However, the military is different from other kinds of work in which those involved may face death (the PG&E workers and school teachers you cite).

    The PURPOSE of the military is to kill other people, on command. That is the only job I know of that makes killing other people the prime objective. If you are familiar with the methodologies used to train military personnel, there is a large component of the training that is intended to overcome a person's natural reluctance to kill someone else, so a person will then be able to kill on command, without reflection or delay.

    Surely, a person in the military must be willing to "die," but as you point out, being ready to die is a prerequisite for many of us: firefighters, law enforcement officers, PG&E workers and (even) school teachers. But only in the military is the essential purpose of the job to kill other people.

    I think we need to move to the "army of peacemakers" you mention. That was the implication of my last line.

    Thanks again for the comment.


Thanks for your comment!