Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial Day Hopes For An Informed Democracy

                  Memorial Day of this year is laying very heavy on my own heart. Its never been a holiday that's been particularly comforting for me. Whenever I go to the store I am asked to donate money to help troops. You go into the grocery store and you see a person pushing a young man in a wheel chair missing more than one limb. People will say he sacrificed to help his country. But you see in his eyes,in his face that he is in great pain. You might also see he regrets it. If he was in the last war,he might've seen a bunker buster bomb scatter pieces of shrapnel about. And after its over,perhaps seen a mother and father...holding pieces of their babies. This is horrible imagery to read isn't it? Well this is what war is. Most who are causalities in war are women and children. While we honor our dead soldiers in America,what of the many that they themselves murdered under orders? Who did nothing? Who have no grave Marker? No body? Do we think of these people?

                If one thinks about war and why people say their willing to die and kill for "god and country" as the saying goes, one might want to think of their behavioral impulses. Many people might have impulses that are not healthy. Addictions are an unhealthy impulse. If an alcoholic stares at a drink too long,their impulses will compel them to drink it-no matter what the results. What of the young man who watched two planes crash into the twin towers in New York on September 11th,2001? The man whose mind was filled with images of "the axis of evil" and Islamic terror organizations? Who had it in his head he wanted to defend his country against these types of people. Frankly if he is no longer alive to comment on that,he'd be among the lucky ones. Despite what we're shown on television,I've personally seen many of the injured soldiers in everyday life. These are tormented men and women,mostly men it seems. With many regrets.

                Its no wonder why people often hunger to fight in wars. One of the most popular and heavily watched television programs in America is the WWE-World Wrestling Entertainment. This is a staged form of entertainment sometimes advertised as a "male soap opera". What does that mean? This is a program that features one man verbally trading venomous insults with another man-usually dressed in some type of fancy costume. Than they will physically fight the other. Sometimes you will see blood seeming to shoot from someone's mouth. There are strobe lights everywhere. People cheering in the audience. From an outsider perspective,I see it as a modern day extension of Roman gladiatorial fights-a popular entertainment manipulating its viewers subliminally for entering the battlefield of war-for having an enemy and hurting them,even killing, if they disagree.

                 The military advertise very heavily during many sporting events,including WWE. There seems to be an assumption that those watching these programs are in a male demographic and likely have a lot of internal aggression. If any man even cheers and is made to feel happy about a competing football player physically attacking another,or a wrestler hurting the man who insulted him, it might have the affect of psychically numbing the viewer to the very idea of fighting and killing. Such a person makes an ideal soldier. They may even obey orders to slaughter without question. Is this some huge conspiracy? Nothing so grandiose it seems. Often enough this seems to be part of the fabric of American existence itself. Because self sacrifice is made to appear so heroic, there remains a strong public perception of anyone who is seriously anti war as an anarchist-an unpatriotic person who feels entitled to freedom itself. That the only way to maintain freedom anywhere is to kill and die for it.

                  Politics,as in life is filled with enormous contradictions. One of America's founding fathers once stated that in an informed democracy its citizens will behave in a responsible fashion. This is also the same man who stated that science is important to the preservation of our republican government, and that it is also essential to its protection against foreign power. In modern society it is largely the republican end of the government that prefers to cause wars. It is populated by men psychically numb to killing and those who will be killed in the wars they start with often equally war mongering leaders of the same foreign governments they oppose. In the end war merely becomes a very high level version of a contact sport: someone is hurt, the other party wants to hurt them back. At the same time none of what I've just said is at all original. Its been repeated again and again and again. Most of them its seen as a concept to laugh at or even pity. So what makes my own say in this age old argument so significant?

                 In the grand scheme of things I could cynically retort that my opinion doesn't make any difference. But so many people say that too. I saw my opinion matters equally as much as everyone else who speak out as I do about fighting and killing. Lately I've been barnstormed by many people,even some family,for having entitled behaviors in regard to my convictions. Truth be known a few times I've slammed my fists against a counter or shouted at the air. Do I feel these warlike aggressive tendencies myself? No. Just anger at the fact these matters are spoken of, but seldom ever seriously addressed in the world at large. While we have our weekend BBQ's and family cookouts this weekend,or even as we put flowers on the graves of loved ones who have passed many might think easily about those who died in war. I would like to hope that it will be more than a select few,including myself,who will be haunted by the fact that war is still perceived as appropriate in modern society as it exists. Its perfectly sane of mind to feel anguish at such ghastly death as exists in war. Any democracy whose people are inherently good deserved to be informed on the truth of war,death and fighting a lot better then they are


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