Monday, November 11, 2013

Thinking Of Our Veterans Today With Admiration, Gratitude, Concern ... And Resolve

I haven't done much to observe this Veterans' Day. I've thought with gratitude and admiration of people who've offered their lives in military service.

But (without considering the appropriateness beforehand), I also watched The Bridge On The River Kwai today--and yesterday, Ender's Game.

Bridge On The River Kwai is a depressing fable about the madness and futility of war. And Ender's Game--well, the movie was a poor adaptation of the book, unnecessarily introducing tired old tropes that obscured the philosophical themes--but the book, anyway, (which I hurriedly read the day before yesterday) raises the question: to what extent do we want to become violently brutal in order to protect ourselves (and our loved ones) from violent brutality?

Ender's Game (the book) poignantly illustrates the weight of--what shall we call it? Regret? Responsibility? The heaviness and terror felt by someone who never wanted to become ruthlessly violent, and yet, when faced with murderous intent, chose to respond in kind.

I have a great deal of respect for soldiers; for their sacrifice, which I consider genuinely noble. But I also feel concerned for soldiers, since, in combat, they must develop a side of themselves which most human beings generally strive to suppress. (And of course, much happens in combat that is severely emotionally traumatic for various reasons--in addition to the physical harm suffered.)

I don't know what else to say. Thank you, veterans, for your service, and I'm sorry it was necessary (or, worse, asked for even though not necessary). So today I resolve once again to do what I can to work for peace so that the horror of war can be avoided as much as possible in future. I will try to become the kind of person who forgives, who is gracious when others are mean and conciliatory when others are hostile. I will try to set aside my pride when I disagree with someone, listen with an open mind, and make a way for peace where there is no way.

I do believe that the best hope of changing the world is to change oneself, especially since personal transformation tends to be at least somewhat contagious. So ... I'll try to be a peacemaker in my relationships to honor those that have bought peace at a very dear price.