War, 1 of 4

“A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.” – Mahatma Ghandi

Brothers and Sisters of the Congregation, we need to move on to more serious topics today.  Enough cow hypnotism and golfers getting their balls cleaned.  Our duly elected President and Commander in Chief had decided that we need some more war.  Apparently the last eight years of pointless killing and destruction weren’t enough.  Now we need to send 30,000+ more troops to Afghanistan in order to save the world.  Wrong wrong wrong.  But I’ll get to that later.  Let’s bite the proverbial bullet and talk about war.

War is a juicy subject.  I’ve given it a lot of thought and I’m going to give it some serious blog space.  Four posts in fact.  My next three will cover our current wars, my view of what should happen after we end our current wars, and the antiwar movement.  I may even use actual facts!  But first I’d like to talk about war in general, giving you some background on how and why I think what I do.

As a Reverend I am a Man of God.  As a part time Buddhist I believe that as a species we should strive towards peace.  Pacifism and nonviolence are wonderful ideals.  And like a lot of ideals they’re worth all the energy you can spare in working for them.  But they’re IDEALS, they’re GOALS, not workable blueprints for the world we live in.  Keep them in your heart and in your mind.  Teach your children their value.  But understand that they are limited at the moment and live in the real world.

Humans are violent little fuckers.  Each and every one of us.  In the right circumstances I would kill another man.  So would you.  Hell, I might even enjoy it.  It’s part of who we are, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it.  Ghandi said that only a man who truly understood his own capacity for violence could make a meaningful choice for nonviolence and I heartily agree.  By accepting our nature and coming to terms with it we might stand a chance of making some more peaceful choices.  Otherwise, we’ll just keep doing the same shit over again.  And a lot of that shit is horrifically violent.

If you think an individual human is violent, let me tell you that when a bunch of them get together it gets even worse.  Our collective history is defined by war.  Epic battles, revolutions, uprisings, ethnic cleansing, nation building and other various other atrocities.  Empires rise and fall, tactics change, sensibilities grow, but war is always there.  And as we’ve gathered into ever larger groups those wars have gotten to be pretty fucking spectacular.  And that’s not likely to change any time soon.  Even if our country could get together and choose a peaceful path (I know it can’t, just play along) it wouldn’t matter much because much of the world is hundreds of years behind us when it comes to human rights.  So war is here to stay for the foreseeable future.  It sucks, but there it is.

Having accepted this unfortunate fact, we come to another grim reality.  Losing sucks even more.  Being conquered would totally blow.  A soldier dying is bad, but a soldier you know dying is worse.  All in all it’s way better to win.  And to win you need a pretty good military.  Unlike most lefties, I appreciate the military.  I think there’s value to the military way of life.  Discipline, sacrifice, service.  Those are all good qualities.  A standing military with superior training, the best weapons, and brilliant commanders is a damn good thing.  All for it.  In this case Einstein was wrong.  You can prepare for war while simultaneously pursuing peace.  In fact you must.

Having said that, the military is very limited.  Since they have a lot of fucking hammers, they think everything is a nail.  The military must ALWAYS remain under civilian control and have NO political power.  That Village Idiot who used to be our president was very fond of saying “I just do what my generals say”.  Wrong, you poor excuse for a human being.  The generals were supposed to do what you said.  That’s why we have a fucking constitution, not a military dictatorship.  Dumbass.

The military also needs to kept in perspective.  We won WWII because of our technology and our manufacturing.  These are the things that will keep us truly safe in the long term, not extra soldiers or wars against terrorism.  Wanna know why we triumphed over the Soviet Union?  Because we didn’t send some of our smartest people to prison for thought crimes.  Wanna know why we’ll beat back Islamic extremism?  Cause girls are smart too, and we let ours get educated.  Wanna know why we’ll ultimately prevail over China?  Cause the free exchange of ideas wins EVERY FUCKING TIME.  God doesn’t win wars, big infantries don’t win wars, science wins wars.  The fake patriotic idiots on the far right of this country would do well to remember this.

So let’s be real.  Wars will happen and we need a strong, supplied military to win them for us.  But let’s also keep our eyes on our real strengths; freedom of thought, equality, open ideas, and freedom from religious oppression.  That’s fucking patriotic!  Tomorrow, the war in Afghanistan.  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.  Amen