Saturday, May 18, 2013

Armed Forces Day: Violence Will Not Save Us

                      The month of may has two holidays that are military related. The best known is Memorial Day at the end of the month,celebrated primarily to honor deceased service men. The other (and probably somewhat lesser known) occurs today-the third Saturday of the month,to honor American soldiers who are alive and have served their country in a military capacity. I cannot personally think of any social matter,even the state of the economy,that is more controversial and stirs up more heated debate than the idea of war and those who fight it. There is only one thing that I can say is surely true: those people who are convinced war is a solution to domestic "terrorist" problems have likely never been to war before.

                   Now I've never been to war. In fact my personal convictions on the subject would never allow me to at any rate and I take great pride in that. However I've seen the very ugly side of what happens to those who return from war. Many people I knew,including some good friends, were killed in the expansive war in Iraq five or six years ago. Interestingly enough,my own experiences have led me to believe those people who died may have been the lucky ones. There was a next door neighbor we had when I was about 14-15 years old. I'll just call him Doug to protect his privacy. Upon meeting him I thought he was merely developmentally delayed. Downs Syndrome perhaps. That is how he came across. One day his mother,who lived with him told us his story.

                   Doug had been a soldier in the US military during Operation Dessert Storm. She said she didn't want to,and really couldn't go into details about what had happened to Doug. Essentially he had gone in one man,and come back another. She did mention such things as pleasure/pain exercises such as walking on hot coals. Though most importantly it was revealed that,having gone into the service a young man who by societies standards was of average intelligence and ability, he returned in a state that was for all intents and purposes lobotomized. And what I was seeing was a lot more than simply a causality of war. In the years and decades since, I have met more and more people-some of whom are my good friends,in similar states and sharing similar experiences.

                  The Peace Corps poster who see above features a painting of a character named Fluttershy from the animated television series My Little Pony-Friendship Is Magic. In this show,her character represents the element of kindness. She is meek,soft spoken yet vocally assertive. Overall an example of a non militaristic personality. Admirers of the show,known as Bronies and Pegasisters share a motto called "love and tolerate" based on the virtues of the show. I've grown up with two wars in the middle east. Many people returning often with more mental than physical injuries. And many many unable to function in the society they defended as a result. And fiscally it is the people who are asked to assist in their recovery,not the military who placed them in danger. Without waxing politics too heavy,I am firmly of the opinion that if the message of "violence will not save us" is instilled into human beings at a young age, this type of assault on the mental and physical health of all human beings will not have to continue.

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