Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day thoughts

Military forces are a mixed bag. Some are there by accident because they joined up for non-patriotic, non-militaristic reasons. Some are scary types who like combat. Some are idealistic about their country and accept combat as a reasonable option.

The tributes can seem overdone. The motives for them are as varied, if not more varied, than the motives of the troops for joining up in the first place. How many of the tributes ever address the basic insanity of war? If you accept that combat to the death is a respectable political tool and an inevitable part of the human experience, then prophecies of an eventual fiery doom for the human race are a no-brainer. You don't have to have magical second sight in any century to extrapolate that we simply get better and better at snuffing each other out until the whole thing comes to a spectacular conclusion when technology and asininity fall into perfect alignment.

If the future is endless war, as the past has been, then honor the dead with all the ridiculous hyperbole you can muster. It doesn't matter who's right, just who's on your team. It all ends up in the same lake of fire eventually. But if you believe we might eventually outgrow war you have to walk a more careful path. Praise the efforts and sacrifices of the poor bastards who will have to die in the interim before we finally manage to put that form of conflict resolution behind us, without making it sound so great that you attract another whole generation to its so-called glories.

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