Monday, May 30, 2011

Knights of the Air and Sea

On Memorial Day I reflect about loved ones gone and the ultimate sacrifice of our honored Veterans who died in the elusive cause of freedom and protection of their people as a community. War is horrible. And while I remain a temperate pacifist, I actually agree with Grant and Sherman that if war is necessary, then it should be total war to end the horror as soon as possible. I want none of that gentlemanly, organized slaughter where we line up across a field and take shots at the other side under European rules of "civilization.". Now we have the option of ending human life on our planet. And that has tempered the world to avoid all-out war. Yet, one day it could all end by the action of enough crazed people. It will take more than one to push enough nuclear buttons for the full effect of global annihilation.

Having contemplated the absolute horror of war and potential global destruction we see the necessity of avoiding that total war at all costs. Yet, I still find in my heart a human need to respect and honor those who served in the cause or at least the genuine and sincere intent of protection of the lives and the ideals of the people with whom they are united in the community of a nation.

I'm trying to understand how I can see that idealistic nobility in the general futility of war. Fascination gripped me recently spending some hours on the US Midway, a decommissioned aircraft carrier in San Diego Harbor now a museum principally created and staffed by the veterans of the US Navy who served on it or carriers like it.

There are symbols of camaraderie and might turned to idealistic good. On the carrier museum in the midst of patches, plaques, and pictures of the squadrons that trained and fought from our carrier fleet, I found the most interesting symbol of warfare - a crusader sword.

Such an anachronistic symbol of what was not always a noble endeavor must mean something. We all know that the Crusades were horrible as the Christian "jihad" against Islam of the Middle Ages. We shudder to picture the indiscriminate slaughter of Muslims, Jews, and even Christians as the First Crusade was surprisingly successful in actually entering and taking the Holy City of Jerusalem. And they claimed they were on God's errand. So what does it mean?

Not for a moment do I wish to excuse such a slaughter or the arrogance of  religious wrongs too numerous to count. Yet there is something in the deep divides internal to the human heart that does ultimately reveal why a human fights for good or for ill. Alexander Solzhenitsyn said, "the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being." And when one raises that sword knowing and accepting full well that he may die by that sword, yet striking in the intended defense of family, home, and sincere religious faith, can't that possibly raise the brutality of the violence into a more noble act?

I don't know that I will ever understand it. And I will keep trying. In the meantime, I do respect and honor those who died horrific and some would say meaningless deaths as faithful soldiers of high ideals in the hope for a more perfect Union of a people united in that hope.

My American flag is flying in the cold breeze of today's Memorial Day.


  1. (Anon/M) OK, I can't stand it anymore. I see you spend time on giving us thought-provoking posts almost every day. Yet, you get zero reaction or comment most of the time. By the numbers on the right, you know you're being read. Still. So, thank you for giving us well-researched items to think about. Occasionally, you even allow yourself to be funny, even if unintentionally so ("Lambie Lives!" comes to mind).

  2. @Anon/M
    Yeah, but Lambie should only work as humor in the sense of childlike mirth.

    But thank you for the compliments. It is difficult to establish a blog following. I understand it's even harder to get published in real books. Blogging is certainly a narcissistic, belly-button-gazing, enterprise. But it is a way to throw your thoughts out there for any takers without having to self-promote to a great extent. (which I find very difficult to do - that is, to directly tell anyone about my blogging)

    I get hits from various connections. First, are some family and friends who still like me (not that many). Second, are the curious links I get back from my commenting on other, mostly Mormon, blogs. But I'm getting kind of tired of some of those other blogs and the fact that they haven't listed me yet (back to self-indulgence issues). So I may give that up. Third, I get hits from the one blog that has listed, linked, and allowed me to post a guest piece: (Yay, for mutual plugging!) fourth, and perhaps most interesting, are those who find me by internet searches for some of my topics - the most common are on that "Constitutional compound republic" thing. And finally, I get a few, random curious who find me by accident somehow.

    I just can't stop as this is my current obsession. The ideas to blog on just keep coming. It is so amazing to just put my thoughts out whether anyone sees them or not. Because there's always that hope that someone might . . . And apparently a few have.

  3. (Anon/M) I agree with most of what you said. It would be a temptation to create controversy by throwing some raw meat out there. By what I see, you try very hard to be fair and balanced...painfully so sometimes. There is nothing wrong in calling a spade a spade, once in a while. Probably it's the lawyer in you.
    PS - About Lambie, what made me laugh was picturing you lovingly shampooing and blow drying the old toy...Your daughter was right, it was a little weird, but in a touching way.


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