War! What is it Good For?

Peace, love and understanding; Is there no place for them today? They say we must fight to keep our freedom, but Lord knows there’s got to be a better way.  – Edwin Starr, War

Trench warfare_z

WWI Archive, Flickr Commons

I was watching a documentary on diets the other night when a European doctor quipped, “Americans love to have an enemy.” I was stunned. How insightful, and as I considered the statement, I concluded he was right!

No matter the issue, we Americans do love to have an enemy to identify, attack, and annihilate. Be it obesity, cancer, politics, foreign relations, politics, AIDS, or poverty, we describe it as “war”; “fighting” against something or other. War on cancer, war on poverty, culture wars, the fight against obesity, and it of course spills over into religions too.

On the positive side, these are evidences we are a passionate people. We are willing to sacrifice and put ourselves on the front lines for whatever cause we believe in from feminism to religion, atheism, education, the environment, and many others. We are not afraid to protest, sign petitions, call our government, and otherwise make our voices heard.

All people need a purpose, a hope, and a reason to persevere through life, but living in a self (or media)-manufactured war zone day-to-day is unbalanced and exhausting. We do unnecessary trauma to ourselves and others who we tend to wrongly view as “the enemy”, in the name of war.

“But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late.

Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony–Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy?” ― Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front

Destruction of WWI_zWar is made to appear glorious in the media. War is always painted as good guys (“you”) vs. bad guys (“them”); good vs. evil. In reality, it isn’t usually so simple. In reality there are typically passionate people fighting viciously with other passionate people in a bid to conquer evil or establish justice, as each side would view it. Sometimes, ironically, as both sides would see it.

“All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall.” ― Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers

With this 2016 Presidential election coming up in November, I have never seen my beautiful, diverse country so stridently divided on nearly every issue. Emotions are running very, very high as most everyone is terrified of “the other side” and are choosing to vote not their conscience, but their fear. Why would politicians want a divided, unsettled populace?

[If your enemy’s] forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Politicians know that war is good for three things: unifying a country by giving it national purpose, boosting economy, and gaining power for themselves. Religious leaders understand the same things. By giving their followers something to fight for, they mobilize people to action and make a lot of money in the process. In the end, it is only politicians and religious leaders who win.

Let us not destroy our country and our people in an effort to make America her best yet.

“Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content.
But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Shell of a building WWI_z

Say it again…


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2 comments

  1. handselkoan

    War is a more profitable enterprise than peace with quicker (and decidedly shallower) returns. Congress says we can’t afford to do better for our own people and the society as a whole, but look at how much of the budget for the United States is ALWAYS allotted for “defense” spending, most of which is a ridiculously inflated military and development of yet more advanced weapons. Imagine how much could be done if that was shifted to infrastructure, mental health care, revitalizing and remedying the medical industry and patient care, educational equality, or a dozen other gainful things elevating the standard of living for people in our own country and those of potential friends abroad where they desperately need help. If we tried being tolerant and humane we would have fewer enemies, and no need for such a massive military-industrial complex.

    Then consider all those billions are funneled into a handful of companies making insane profits by building weapons, selling rifles, and making bullets instead. A significant portion of that spending is utter waste–including the literally millions of M-16s we have abandoned in countries after we invade and leave–and some of that waste is reclaimed by future enemies (like in Afghanistan); foes made our enemies by the foreign policy paradigms we follow in order to continually sell war, and its expensive components. It makes me sick to think of it. I claim no kinship with people responsible for that.

    And so long as we vote in a fear-mongering bigot, or a sellout criminal (but a woman! Go bellicose Feminism askew!) from a two-party system, it cannot be altered. We get what we vote for.

    Liked by 1 person

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