America at War: Iraq and the nature of Man

PBS had a fantastic program on tonight called, “America at a Crossroads.” It’s part of a series, and tonight’s episode chronicled the lives of 6 American Soldiers, and what they have had to go through.

War is real. And far too often, we forget that. Not in a surface, intellectual sense. We don’t tend to forget the reality of war in that way. Instead, we forget the reality of how war hurts, physically, psychologically. How war is so very antithetical to an individuals human nature. Sure, war is the very out growth of a certain kind of human nature, but it is an out growth of our COLLECTIVE human nature. A human nature that, in its collectivity, forgets the pain of the individual who must carry out the acts themselves.

It is incumbent upon us to ponder these issues everyday. We must, like is suggested in the Hagakura, imagine our bodies destroyed, our minds forever altered, our lives ended.

“If there is no greater sorrow than the remembrance in adversity of past happiness, there is no pleasure, either, in remembering adversity in present prosperity”–Miguel de Unamuno, in The Tragic Sense of Life in Men and Nations

And yet, that is exactly what we must do. There is no better way to understand the value of your life, and the lives of others, than to face ones own morality. We are all going to die, me, you, and everyone we’ve ever loved. Time is against us.

This war was entered into on false pretenses. It was planned by morons who’s blunder ended the lives, needlessly, of far more American troops and Iraqi civilians than was necessary. But, the soldiers had nothing to do with that. Day to day, they were just trying to survive.

The least we can do, is to try and understand them. Then maybe, we won’t let it happen again.


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