Thursday, October 15, 2015

This is Why War is Not Spoken Of Outside the Circle of Warriors

“In fact, seeing the reaction to my father’s story in recent days has highlighted for me the almost stunning level of ignorance that the general public has about war. CNN introduced him as a ‘war hero,’ and yet people were surprised and even uncomfortable when they were given a glimpse of what that might have entailed. . . . This country has been at war for almost 15 years, and as I think about the ridicule leveled at my father in the past 24 hours, I can’t help but imagine what these same people must think about the service of my own generation. In their eyes, did we simply spend some kind of twisted ‘semester abroad’ in a place with plenty of sand, but no ocean? Or conversely, do they ignorantly dismiss our experiences, as they have my father, as those of cold callous killers?”

Well, given of whom you speak, the answers to those questions are "yes" and "yes".  Warriors are always held in contempt by the elites in any society.  There are Roman poems from the days of empire that lament that tendency, not to mention it is a leitmotif in the works of Rudyard Kipling.  This is why those who have been in combat tend not to speak of such things with family and friends who have not shared in what philosophy would describe as a form of "limit situation".

I attended an Episcopal seminary with three veterans, one of whom was highly decorated in Vietnam.  Because the Episcopal Church is disquieted by the notion and practice of military service, all three kept their backgrounds a near secret so they would not be marked as "other" by their classmates and the seminary faculty.