I was a career solider for the empire. I started this career before I learned. If I hadn’t been a state soldier, I may have never learned. I fear that I would have been one of those “flag-waving” chickenhawks who think that everything the U.S. Empire does is for our freedom (ha!) and for peace. Ironic how the loudest voices for violence are those walled up in the fortress.
Further, my status as a retired soldier rebuts the idiotic claim that you can’t fight for peace “if you’ve never served.” Think of that, just for a moment. Somebody [else] who discovers that war is nothing but organized mindless death before they ever even consider entering military service, thus they never become a trained killer for the State. Somebody who puts their action with their beliefs gets some knucklehead who tells them, “it’s a good thing there are those wiling to fight for your right to be a hippie/commie/coward” or just “you’ve never served.” …and yet, many lend credibility to those who have “served” (the State). It’s like saying how can you know rape [or insert any sin here] is wrong unless you’ve tried it. All the while, countless cowards sit in the fortress (see above) beating the war drums, calling for more cruelty.
While having committed a sin definitely is not a requirement to speak against it, those with a conscience that have recognized their wrongdoing do have a lesson to teach others. It is my hope that my experience can do this. As a teenager, I felt compelled to serve a higher calling. I thought the U.S. Air Force would allow me to serve, that is, to defend freedom. I entered the Academy already infected with the belief that I was protecting liberty, but I think the four years of indoctrination successfully planted the seed that would eventually lead me to the truth: that war as logical had to be forced on the mind. The military academy did everything it could to convince me that the State was the ultimate defender of freedom. That I was “better” because I would give up my life for its interests. This teaching was effective in suppressing the truth, but it did not brainwash me. In short, the “over the top” re-education provided by the military, starting with my Academy days, had the opposite effect of what was intended. It took me years to work this out, but war after war after war helped me see the ludicrosity (yes, I made that word up special, just for this moment) of the State.
Yes, I have “served” and I think of war not as a last resort, but as a tumor on human thought…it is no resort at all, and its root is the State. I am not so naive as to think war will be eradicated from our existence. Humans are masters at violence and power, and when these combine there will be the smell of death to innocents in the air. So what is one to do? How does one build speed bumps on the road to war? As alluded to, I am convinced it is to reduce (i.e. divide) the power first, rather than the violence, and the State is where the monopoly on power resides. My only route is to persuade, and to persuade, and to persuade that power concentrated over so many subjects is how tyranny prevails.
Those who think that “war is not the ugliest of things” (vis-a-vis John Stewart Mill, read the full quote here), have given up. There are so many more options available before violence is an option. However, the State has us convinced that war is the way, way too soon. Why? When all you have is a hammer, then everything is a nail.
It is my hope that by thinking this through together, by continuing the dialogue about liberty, the individual will gain power at the expense of the State. Then, when there is a call to war, nobody will come. The effort of liberty-lovers will require persistence. The belief in true liberty has to be so strong and pervasive, that action (or rather inaction) will be required. It’s a grand goal, but certainly worth the effort. Eventually, we may hit a tipping point of thought, where liberty trumps nationalism…one can hope, no?
You see, I am “for the troops.” For their liberty, their sanity, and their safety. Bring them home.
“We who have touched war have a duty to bring the truth about war to those who have not had a direct experience of it. We are the light at the tip of the candle. It is really hot, but it has the power of shining and illuminating. If we practice mindfulness, we will know how to look deeply into the nature of war and, with our insight, wake people up to that together we can avoid repeating the same horrors again and again” –Thich Nhat Hanh