Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Over at Reflections of a Secular Franciscan, Don is thinking about a young soldier that he has known for a while. He talks about praying over this young man and about his own internal conflict between peace and honoring soldiers.

I do not think it is an inconsistancy to both love soldiers and hate war. There is more to any soldier and to soldiers as a group than killing and being killed. There is a wish to be of service, to dedicate their lives to the service of others. It is not the soldier who chooses to go to war. It is we who send the soldier, who say, go here and do this. It is we who tell the soldier, this is how you will serve.

There is loyalty and firmness of purpose. There is the love between soldiers who serve together. And of course, there is more to each soldier than the mere fact of their service as a soldier. Among our armed services, there are artists, storytellers and jokers, folks who like to read, and folks who like downhill skiing. Some joined to get an education, as this young man did, and others join to give structure to their lives. Still others join because there is a restlessness inside them that they hope to tame. Some joined from patriotism, or a feeling that they were called to protect our nation in a time of trouble.

Many have paid heavy prices. I know more than one divorced servicemember. I know more than one who suffers from their service to our country. In some ways, it is my love for some of our soldiers that gives me such a strong need to remind those who make the end decisions on their service of the responsibility that we bear for their wellbeing. I am reminded that in America, we bear the responsibility for our liberty and for how we ask them to serve. In the end, how will we answer those shades who say "I died in such a place for such a cause?" How will we answer the living who are maimed or haunted?

And how will we answer those who have discovered that they cannot serve in the way that the military demands? Many soldiers are now serving sentences in prison because they have refused to be deployed. If I refuse to do my job, I will be fired. If a soldier refuses, they may be sentenced to prison, even if they had tried to obtain CO status, or tried to initiate harrassment charges against their command, or even to report to a hospital for treatment of mental illness.

So, yes, I believe it is possible to desperately want peace, and to love peace while also loving soldiers.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are eloquent as usual and have done a splendid job of articulating all of the aspects that come from serving one's country. Thanks for writing more about this great topic and honoring those who have served or are serving now. Peace.

12/26/2006 2:48 PM  

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