Are we as a nation still a righteous one? Are we the stalwart defender we purport ourselves to be? Do we continue to be a fair and just nation? I wish I had a better answer for you, but in all honesty...when I look out into the world, I look at the actions of my countrymen, I look at the policy of our government, of the population even, it's hard for me to say yes.
Because, we are too eager to employ the gun and less eager to employ speech. Often, in history, nations destroy themselves from perpetual war. To enable the continuance of war, you must be at war with a principle, an ideal, or a concept. Principles, ideals, and concepts have no flesh to rend, no body to destroy, and no way to snuff it from existence.
The ideal of the USA, is that everyone is equal, everyone is treated fairly, and everyone has his or her day in court with a fair jury and a fair judge to prosecute or exonerate guilt or innocence. In our fair and just nation, everyone who works never goes hungry, never is homeless, and never is without the necessities and maybe even a few fruits of life.
What prompted this line of thinking? Ender's Game. The story is quite moving and disturbing at the same time. On the one hand, we're fighting for survival. On the other hand, we're fighting to end all wars, and on another hand we're willing to go to extremes to end the future conflicts we don't see.
What was great about Ender’s Game? It explores questions of instinct and survival. While we may believe we’ve evolved to states where we don’t kill indiscriminately for our personal self-worth…we do. We just do it in more organized manners. Instead of a stone axe and wooden spear, we create armies of organized drones to destroy the life we’ve told them are our enemy. If we as a species truly have evolved, then evolution is a sham. True evolution is adapting to our growth as human beings, and integrating each other into each other’s systems of subsistence, culture, and learning to live together.
The Middle East are cultures so alien to the western world as a whole, that we’re content to believe anything and anyone who has an opinion about their atrocities. Well guess what…we’re no angels ourselves. How many civilians have we killed? How many did we hold for 10+ years without explanation or charges or trial just because the military says they saw them fighting? How many mouths of our own people did we rob to go and kill someone? How many secret agencies exist that consume resources strictly for the purposes of killing subvertly? We don’t know, because we’ve allowed this madness to continue for far too long.
Our nation is a disease right now. We’re provocative, violent, bigoted, and self-righteous. We’re a nation of hypocrites who say one thing and do another. We have, as a nation, no interest in pursuing peaceful coexistence because we’re so blinded by ethnocentrism that we can’t seem to cooperate with anyone who isn’t like us, who doesn’t look like us, or who doesn’t behave like us. We have allowed deeply destructive elements to dominate our society. Greed, power, envy, domination, and control have taken root and corrupted our national fabric. It is deeply disgusting to me, that we think we have the moral fiber to tell other nations how to behave. The population, the government, and our religious leaders all have failed to highlight how hypocritical our country is in relation to the rest of the world. We are NOT a righteous nation by any imagination. People worship money like the Hebrews did with the Golden Calf. People think they are so entitled to independence and liberty that they would sooner sacrifice their neighbor to a burning inferno just because they think they have the moral license to do so. We invoke names like Jesus, Mohammed, The Buddha, and other great philosophical icons who truly were evolved individuals. Individuals like these and many others who have emulated them have taught tolerance, peace, and justice to the world at large.
What can we do to avert these continued atrocities and begin reforming our cultural identity? We must STOP. Stop shooting stop destroying, stop bombing, and stop imposing ourselves on the world. War perpetuates more war. It is a malignant disease which spreads across the world, permeating all borders, infecting all humans, and leaving nothing but death and waste in its wake. It is the born son of fear and ignorance, the birther of loss and despair. It is akin to pestilence and disease. It knows no end except to destroy all who engage in it while also collaterally killing any around it. A famous line from a great movie “The only way to win the game is to not play.” The film this line came from is called “War Games” from the early to mid-80s starring Matthew Broderick. It’s a movie about the dangers of arms races, nuclear build up, the ethics and morals of engaging in mass global war and what it seeks to leave behind in its wake. There are no winners in war, only losers, and only death as the game tries over and over to win Global Thermonuclear War by trying each round as a different player. The result is the same…no winner.
Let us also consider the morals and ethics of war. There are no winners in war, only victors, but even victors are losers just like the defeated enemy is. The victors’ loss is the life, the equipment, and the resources spent to maintain the conflict. The loss of life is not a win, but a tragedy for the world. The defeated’s loss is the loss of life, the loss of resources, and the loss of equipment, not to mention the loss of influence, and potentially the loss of rights. It’s not which side lost or won, it is which side lost more than the other.
Further the morals and ethics of war, what kind of war did we engage in? Did we defend our homes from invasion? Are we taking pre-emptive action against a potentially hostile state or entity? Are we actively invading another nation to create a buffer zone? Are we actively invading a nation for our own benefit? Wars are judged on their moral and ethical justifications when looked in hindsight. We should not judge past wars on their morality or immorality, because I believe all wars are immoral…but we should at least judge them based on the fruits that emerge from them and let that determine whether a war was at least just or not.
Don’t misunderstand me, I understand that sometimes we must go to war. I 100% believe that a war is just if you are defending your home from an invading force. And wars that are conducted where we minimalize loss of life and follow rules that value human beings. But what we fail to do is to consider all diplomacy before we go in guns blazing. We fail to calculate the human cost to us and to them before we go in with rockets red glaring into supposed hostile targets. Over and over again we fail to learn our lessons about history. No nation should engage in war without giving honest and critical debate about the cost. The human cost is the most important cost. With each war in each generation, we create a new generation of veterans. A new generation of those who must suffer the memory, trauma and loss every night, every waking moment, every quiet reflective thought that goes through their mind isn’t not on some aspect of their war experience. There isn’t a soldier who I haven’t talked to that’s been to war that doesn’t have some horrific story about their injury, the memory of a fellow soldier, the death of one of their enemies, and finally the hardships they now are branded with for the rest of their lives to deal with. That is so much more a cost than the money. Money is replaceable. Human life is not. At what point do we end the violence, do we end the conflict, do we stop making weapons and start making science and art and literature? What point do we end this pointless and empty conflict over ideology and religion and culture. Where does it end? And that question’s answer to me, makes me cry…cause I feel currently, that answer is unattainable.