We should be ashamed of our military. No, not in the vein of ‘You should be ashamed of yourself, Soldier,’ but in the sense that this ought be our philosophical and social attitude concerning our military, shame for our humankind having wars, harming one another, needing to be at arms. Until we get off our childish high-horses, satisfied to say, ‘It’s their fault, not ours,’ we continue to fall into the devil’s trap, increasing his delight at how well his ruse of divide and conquer subdues the godly good within humans. It’s a ruse that has now worked for centuries.
The real war hero, if we took Life seriously enough, would be those in the military who exhibit the kind of courage that is expressed by saying, ‘I have chosen a profession that I don’t want to see glorified. I don’t want to receive the kind of reverent attention from our society that I do presently, and I don’t want it for the good of us all. Replace it by glorifying Peace, increasing our hunger for Peace, making real Peace a cornerstone of our education and media, working to make a faraway Ideal grow closer and more possible of achieving.’
The ancient sages noted in the Bible a place where God has instructed Moses concerning battle with Sihon, but Moses, unable to shed the feeling of not wanting to see any innocent harmed, instead approaches the King with the hope of making peace, with a fair proposal concerning purchasing goods and moving through and out of the region as quickly as possible, on the way to the Promised Land. And what was God’s response at this seeming disobedience? The sages tell the story of God being so impressed and pleased that the suggestion comes down from on high to take special note—most of the Bible’s commands begin with the word ‘if,’ as in ‘if you see a mother bird, then…’ or ‘if you happen upon a hungry stranger, then….’ But concerning peace, the teaching says, Pursue peace. Don’t wait for the circumstances to happen, go for it, make it. Peace is the treasure worth chasing after.
Our greatest soldiers teach us to take Life this seriously, to pursue peace with a diligence, to cease that part of the seeding of the next generation of wars that comes through the reverent attention we devote to the whole enterprise. It is not an insignificant factor. What our unborn, future generations pray for, is a living generation of truly courageous warriors, those who don’t fall short of the bravery required for pursuing peace, whose caring for humanity is so great that their service can include this call they make to pursue peace so passionately that we stop commemorating and memorializing and venerating and honoring and celebrating war. These greatest soldiers understand that all associated with war needs to be seen in the light of our consensual shame for having fallen into this most heinous of scenes repeatedly, tragically. Would not every mother who has ever waited at the door for a son who won’t walk through again be on board?
And if they—our children who are in the military—can quietly guide us in this way, well, are we not called on to give all of these soldiers who take Life seriously and sincerely enough to be these new and greatest of war heroes a livelihood with pay that is considerably better than average and with liberal benefits diligently maintained.