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Thursday, 20 August 2009

The paths we choose.
Is joining up a good choice?

“War is the statesman’s game, the priest’s delight, the lawyer’s jest, the hired assassin’s trade.” — (Shelly)
Admiral retirement
The tinsel and glamour of Army
 The other day I got into a conversation with two guys who intended to join up, but were now having second thoughts they shared with the others hoping to resolve their doubts. An animated discussion followed that led us to agree on many points. Here is the gist of it in case someone is facing the same dilemma and trying to get a different view.

You’d better measure the depth, before plunging into the water; otherwise you are in for a nasty surprise.
Mind that once you are in the army you could go to war and now ask yourself a question, are you ready for it?

In the past military service was obligatory, so hardly anyone managed to eschew it, but today you join the army by choice, therefore you should be aware of what comes with the territory.
Someone said, ‘Would anyone give his life for the Queen or his country if he could think?’

On the other hand, peacetime social misfits see the war as a chance to rampage freely and get away with it (that would explain cases of prisoner abuse in Iraq, for instance), besides, carrying a gun boosts their self-esteem.

A friend of mine went to one of such meaningless wars when he was eighteen. I remembered him as a childish, rather cowardly mummy’s boy; several years later I ran into him in the street: he pulled up in front of me and called me by my name. I flinched away as I didn’t recognized him until he told me who he was  — he looked twenty years older, a mature, weather-beaten man, and his facial expression suggested certain mental instability. I wasn’t even sure whether it was safe to get into his car. ‘You can’t imagine what I’ve been through’, he said with the hurt in his eyes.

Another vet I met shortly after told me that no one came back from the war quite normal — it took great strength of mind not to go literally mad, he himself acknowledged his wartime experiences made him into a short-tempered, neurotic person, and it showed, indeed! For both of them survival in peacetime proved to be an uphill task. And the story could go on for ever...

Any war is a tragedy, apart from casualties or collateral damage, it ruins lives and families, but those who survive deserve respect and all kinds of support from any Government. I shiver with horror every time I remember a documentary about the desperate plight of the Gulf War vets who suffered terrible consequences of exposure to chemicals, including their children born with genetic deformities.

So weigh the benefits against the costs and take the plunge.
Wars have existed ever since mankind emerged on this planet and Cain killed his brother Abel, which should make us think that war is inherent to human nature and was probably conceived as a tool to offset population growth, to create business opportunities or to give otherwise good-for-nothing people an occupation.
We need military conflicts to sell arms, so that those who produce them don’t lose their income and jobs, which would lead to social unrest – a vicious circle (remember ‘Lord of War’?).
If you are lucky to survive, even though unscathed both physically and mentally (e.g. battle fatigue and combat stress), you’ll probably have to fight yet another battle for getting back to normal life.

All through the centuries vets have been neglected once the conflict was over and they outlived their usefulness; by the time new conflict arises fresh cannon fodder has grown up. It’s common for us humans to make expendable whatever we consider unprofitable. The powers that be have always succeeded in beguiling the unwary into risking their lives for the well-being of the ruling classes by means of patriotism, religion or ideology.

"You'll never have a quiet world until you knock the patriotism out of the human race" (George Bernard Shaw, O'Flaherty V.C.)

It goes without saying that the least the State should do is take care of those who sacrifice their lives for their country rather than engage in senseless public ceremonial once they're dead.

Whoever hopes things will change someday is a naive idealist, unless humankind evolves from the Stone Age mentality of our prehistoric ancestors that smashed each other’s heads for a chunk of mammoth meat.
We still fight over territory and resources just as animals do, so can we honestly consider ourselves civilised creatures?

http://freezeframe4vets.org/Blogs/


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