Friday, November 11, 2016

Veteran's Day

This is a tough Veteran's day for me. I have been mostly untouched by the horrors of war, but I understand its necessity. I honor my Uncles who served, and I'm glad they did not see terrible combat. I respect my fellow workers who are vets, they are often the best people in the room. I know war ended the tyrannical systems of the 19th century and stopped the fascist systems of the 20th. I've seen us get better at fighting with less collateral damage and at talking it out so we don't fire a shot.

I've let go of some of my ideals of a perfectly peaceful world, but I will never let go of the possibility of that. I doubt I will live long enough to see a world that is as peaceful as I would like it to be, as peaceful as I think it can possibly be. What I don't get is, why would anyone not want to see us improve on the current state of affairs?

I get it that war makes you tough, it builds character, it's reality, you have to fight for freedom every day, no justice no peace, all that. But comparing kids today to the 18 year old kids who stormed the beaches at Normandy, is not a contest I care to judge. Watch the opening to “Saving Private Ryan”. Those kids were crying and wetting their pants. Most of them died. This is not something we need to put every generation through just to make them somehow better people.

And the next generation watched wars on television, and watched their friends leave and not come back. Since then, we have fought low level wars, police actions, and supported UN peace keeping missions. We deal now more with PTSD and people with artificial limbs, but people are still dying. War is not going away. Can we think about it a little before we ramp it up?

When I see the kids at colleges today who are crying over the election, I see kids who have not seen the world my parents and grandparents saw, and that's good. That means they did their job of making a better world. You could say they did a better job than any generation for thousands of years. Those kids grew up believing things were getting better. They saw love increasing. They saw cities getting cleaned up. They saw marginalized voices getting expressed.  They saw nations helping nations. You're darn right I want to wrap them in a blanket and tell them it's going to be okay, because it's my job now to make it okay. It's want I was trying to create when I marched against “nukes” in the Reagan years, and I understand it's what the good men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq and Syria want too.

We should all want a world where we have to describe war to children. It should be something they read about in the history books and see only in digital films that were transferred from some earlier technology that is now in a museum somewhere. It's going to be hard for some generation someday to impress on those kids that there is evil out there somewhere and that ethical systems allow for self defense in the right circumstances. But wouldn't we all rather be facing that challenge than teaching them how to act around a wounded vet, or giving them the choice of one presidential candidate that wants war slightly less than the other?

1 comment:

  1. I must agree with your words....
    well said...
    mark s.