Day after Memorial Day reflection

It’s hard to have a rational, compassionate discussion about violence on Memorial Day, the day after, or any day in a country in which we strongly believe that violence solves problems without creating new ones.  It is uncomfortable for many when we question the role of our military in foreign affairs and the way we have supported dictators, toppled democratically elected governments, and created false pretenses for war.

The focus should never be on criticizing the rank and file of our armed forces.  They are indeed brave and courageous people, most of whom have noble reasons for joining the military such as fighting for freedom.

The questions we have to ask are those directed to our leaders.  Are our leaders’ motivations for war accurate and true?  Is the worldview their motivations stem from actually supported by evidence (i.e. do their wars actually solve problems they say they will, or any problems at all)?  Are they really just interested in establishing and broadening control over other countries?

And more broadly, how does power tend to corrupt people?  What is the role of power in bringing peace?  Is there a role?  If so, what is the potential role of armed or unarmed peacekeeping forces as opposed to invading forces?

And let’s look for parallels in our own lives, because all around the world people are people, are human beings.  So maybe people in other countries respond to violence similarly to how we might.

Does force solve disputes, problems, and differences within our families and friendships, with people who are close to us and understand us pretty well?  I don’t think so.  Will force then work in other countries, where people don’t understand us well and there are pronounced differences in race, religion, and culture?  Sounds worse to me.

It’s difficult to have our worldviews shaken, and to see that the United States has a very real dark side in addition to the freedom and prosperity many of us experience.  But recognizing and addressing this dark side is actually more patriotic than ignoring it, because we can express our love of country by making it better.

2 thoughts on “Day after Memorial Day reflection

  1. I have long thought that the “fatal flaw” in the human animal just may be that as a species, our intellect has far out-developed our limbic system – leaving us as as an emotionally labile creature, who just happens to also be bright enough to develop ways to express those emotions with unimaginable destructiveness.
    This combination of traits puts us in great peril. Unless we can learn to modify our emotional needs, to choose to develop ourselves deliberately toward rationality, we are in danger of self destruction. And here lies our great hope, for we are intelligent, enough so that we just may be able to do what no species before us has done. We may learn how to master ourselves, to change our fundamental nature. There are a few cultures, a few bright stars among us now who stand out as signposts to this new way. It must begin with recognising that we are one community, that we will rise or fall together. I have hope when I see the young, communicating across cultures and borders, in defiance of governments that would manipulate them, set them against one another. Perhaps this wisdom will generate the change humanity needs. I hope so.

    • We definitely have to learn to think long-term and to take a more cooperative, compassionate stance toward all of humanity and the planet – that’s for sure!

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