Honor and Glory ; what does it mean to an old soldier?
Some time ago someone raised the question of whether things like Remembrance Day , Memorial Day,Veterans Day or even Anzac Day should be quietly put to rest because they appeared to give war a mystique and aura of glory to the young.
People question whether war which is really such a traumatic life -changing experience for the survivors and definitely life -changing for the dead; should be remembered as it is? They were of course shouted down and vilified but seriously do you think they have a point. Should we not teach that diplomacy, compromise and above all else an understanding of the facts is a far preferable solution and war a very absolute desperate last resort?
War is tied to nationalism and my belief that nationalism has brought the world, as we know it, to its knees
Of course we should forget such things, as homage days for the those who were killed in meaningless wars for, although it is hypocritically put on as a show of remembrance it really glorifies conflict.
For instance, in world war one the young men from Australia and New Zealand joined the forces in droves to get to defend a country that enslaved them and tied them to the "British Empire"
They could not wait to travel to see the worst side of humanity, the side that enjoys killing his fellow human beings, for what reason I believe that nobody has put the finger on, for sure.
My own opinion is that to fight and kill or hurt is a part of the human form and psyche. This is based on the fact that in us all there is a rage than can, and does consume us at times, a rage that can turn us against our friends even, for, how quick we are to turn on the temper that we have within us all
We argue and get heated about things that are often so unimportant and inconsequential that it is tragic that we would be willing to lose a friend over, just to be right.
As proof of this, every time this subject comes up I can feel the fire rise up in me and all hell breaks lose in my mind, so strong .... this quirk of human nature
I have seen the people in other countries on Armistice day stand in the rain and cold to, "Honor" their dead and then go to the pub, get intoxicated and then argue and fight over the slightest thing .
Just watch them on the other 364 days when they pass a monument to the dead and see if they bow their heads, salute, or show any emotion at all, no, they reserve it for that one day. I keep well away on that day from this show of hypocrisy that, in my opinion demeans us as people
Those who know me tell me that I am wrong and it worries me not as it is the one time that I say, with confidence, "They have gone to a better place" They must have ,as the battlefield is the place for fools , Prophet/profit's and of violence ...where they go they will find the unconditional acceptance that has eluded them on earth. A new beginning.
As a disabled vet I know what a dreadful scourge the pursuit of war is and I do think that the sacrifice of all the millions of blessedly innocent young on both sides must be acknowledged and not seen as in vain. But at the same time war has to be rejected as a way of solving the world's problems. We have to find a less virulent solution
How can we both hate the war and support our troops? They are half of the problem over there. When are we going to teach our children to stop waving flags and use their reason to think it through to the end.
I dislike the use of the term,"our boys".One trained to kill and one who murders his fellow man is no longer a boy in my book."I'm only doing my job",but it’s a volunteer army, who told you to do it? Its your choice to kill.
Yeah but in situations a soldier finds themselves in ; maybe self-preservation kicks in because it is usually kill or be killed. Although I have to admit that nowadays warfare can almost be conducted as a remote experiment.
No one wants peace more than a soldier, and few understand better how easy it is to waste... one life. When men reduce their world to ‘ two dogs fighting over a bone’ ... the things in life that hold true value ...as a culture , suffer. I think instead of fighting we should consider finding a new ‘bone’, re-evaluate our values as a society starting with money...
I could go on about war but I don’t think it offers anything productive which is why I say ‘thanks but no thanks, I am staying stateside.’
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Political division is nothing new. Throughout American history there have been numerous flare ups in which the political arena was more than just tense but incideniary. In a letter addressed to William Hamilton in 1800, Thomas Jefferson once lamented about how an emotional fervor had swept over the populace in regards to a certain political issue at the time. It disturbed him greatly to see how these political issues seemed to seep into every area of life and even affect people's interpersonal relationships. At one point in the letter he states:
"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend."
Today, we Americans find ourselves in a similar situation, with our political environment even more splintered due to a number of factors. The advent of mass digital media, siloed identity-driven political groups, and a societal lack of understanding of basic discursive fundamentals all contribute to the problem.
Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In a 2017 Free Speech and Tolerance Survey by Cato, it was found that 71% of Americans believe that political correctness had silenced important discussions necessary to our society. Many have pointed to draconian university policies regarding political correctness as a contributing factor to this phenomenon.
It's a great irony that, colleges, once true bastions of free-speech, counterculture and progressiveness, have now devolved into reactionary tribal politics.
Many years ago, one could count on the fact that universities would be the first places where you could espouse and debate any controversial idea without consequence. The decline of staple subjects that deal with the wisdom of the ancients, historical reference points, and civic discourse could be to blame for this exaggerated partisanship boiling on campuses.
Young people seeking an education are given a disservice when fed biased ideology, even if such ideology is presented with the best of intentions. Politics are but one small sliver for society and the human condition at large. Universities would do well to instead teach the principles of healthy discourse and engagement across the ideological spectrum.
The fundamentals of logic, debate and the rich artistic heritage of western civilization need to be the central focus of an education. They help to create a well-rounded citizen that can deal with controversial political issues.
It has been found that in the abstract, college students generally support and endorse the first amendment, but there's a catch when it comes to actually practicing it. This was explored in a Gallup survey titled: Free Expression on Campus: What college students think about First amendment issues.
In their findings the authors state:
"The vast majority say free speech is important to democracy and favor an open learning environment that promotes the airing of a wide variety of ideas. However, the actions of some students in recent years — from milder actions such as claiming to be threatened by messages written in chalk promoting Trump's candidacy to the most extreme acts of engaging in violence to stop attempted speeches — raise issues of just how committed college students are to
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Most college students do not condone more aggressive actions to squelch speech, like violence and shouting down speakers, although there are some who do. However, students do support many policies or actions that place limits on speech, including free speech zones, speech codes and campus prohibitions on hate speech, suggesting that their commitment to free speech has limits. As one example, barely a majority think handing out literature on controversial issues is "always acceptable."
With this in mind, the problems seen on college campuses are also being seen on a whole through other pockets of society and regular everyday civic discourse. Look no further than the dreaded and cliche prospect of political discussion at Thanksgiving dinner.
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
As a result of this increased tribalization of views, it's becoming increasingly more difficult to engage in polite conversation with people possessing opposing viewpoints. The authors of a recent Hidden Tribes study broke down the political "tribes" in which many find themselves in:
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
Understanding these different viewpoints and the hidden tribes we may belong to will be essential in having conversations with those we disagree with. This might just come to a head when it's Thanksgiving and you have a mix of many different personalities, ages, and viewpoints.
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
You'll find that depending on what group you identify with, that nearly 100 percent of the time you'll believe in the same way the rest of your group constituents do.
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 51% of Democrats support a law that requires Americans use transgender people's preferred gender pronouns.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Understanding the fact that tribal membership indicates what you believe, can help you return to the fundamentals for proper political engagement
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Avoid logical fallacies. Essentially at the core, a logical fallacy is anything that detracts from the debate and seeks to attack the person rather than the idea and stray from the topic at hand.
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
- Have the idea that there is nothing out of bounds for inquiry or conversation once you get down to an even stronger or new perspective of whatever you were discussing.
- Keep in mind the maxim of : Do not listen with the intent to reply. But with the intent to understand.
- We're not trying to proselytize nor shout others down with our rhetoric, but come to understand one another again.
- If we're tied too closely to some in-group we no longer become an individual but a clone of someone else's ideology.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
Debate and civic discourse is inherently messy. Add into the mix an ignorance of history, rabid politicization and debased political discourse, you can see that it will be very difficult in mending this discursive staple of a functional civilization.
There is still hope that this great divide can be mended, because it has to be. The Hidden Tribes authors at one point state:
"In the era of social media and partisan news outlets, America's differences have become
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
We need to start teaching people how to approach subjects from less of an emotional or baseless educational bias or identity, especially in the event that the subject matter could be construed to be controversial or uncomfortable.
This will be the beginning of a new era of understanding, inclusion and the defeat of regressive philosophies that threaten the core of our nation and civilization.
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