A Grave Blanket of Comforting Lies
Leah has a thoughtful post up marking Veteran's Day.
Me, I'm sick of it all. I just got back from a part of the world where the destruction is so vast and pitiless that I think we have more on our plate than we can handle, just dealing with Nature's wars. Yet we persist in creating more for ourselves. I'm not adding one more voice to the chorus, however well intended, about how brave and heroic the warrior class is. Because what it comes down to is that you put people out there in endlessly repeated situations where all that matters is staying alive and depending on their comrades to help them do that, and then you praise them for it. You pick out the inevitable shining diamonds of decency and the moments of humanity that many of them act out, that will let them rise above the carnage for however brief a moment, and praise them and what they have had to endure, and it makes the attraction of fighting and dying all the more alluring, cements the mythology even more tightly to the reality it obscures, the reality that war is death to the human soul and a wallow in the worst evils man can produce. The young are full of fire and believe in their own immortality and are eager to prove to themselves and the world that they can walk through that fire, and the old are eager to give them the chance by stoking them with jingoistic lies and the false religion of patriotism.
Every time we cry over our dead and elevate them above us as heroes for fighting in a war we did not, we give fodder to the war-making machine that is never filled, and we give the halo of desirability to the deaths to come.
I refuse to do this anymore. War is not heroic. It is not a lesser evil. It is not an inevitable fact of life we must adjust ourselves to, and everytime we pacify ourselves with that lie, we make the next war as inevitable as the next rainstorm.
It's time to end this myth, because the only thing it does is provide never-ending justification to the warmongers who need us to believe it in order to power their machine.
I hate the loss of so much life. It is a crime and a sin. It is a sin for which no church can offer justification. It's time to pull the tooth of the war god, and say "Enough."