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The Reality of War

War is a highly romanticized and glorious notion, as Hollywood would have us believe. They portray it in a heroic and honorable scene of zealous soldiers storming to battle in a blaze of glory. But what they fail to express is the horrible carnage and pointless taking of human life.

In shows and movies, wars always have a “good guy” and a “bad guy.” And, supposedly, the “good guys” conquer the evil army in order to rescue all of humanity. They march home championed and unscathed to a crowd of worshipping civilians. But real wars don’t have good and bad guys, they just have sides. Neither side is evil; neither has an army of blood thirsty demons or half human monsters. No, they are just people: fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters, sons, and daughters; many of whom were drafted, thrust a gun, and told “Defend your country!”

And, God forbid, your action movie hero is forced to sacrifice himself, it can only be to save the planet. The main character is seemingly indestructible and will only fall to secure the fight. But soldiers pinned on the front line are shot down without second thought. Bombs and shrapnel send plumes of dust rising in the air, explosions light up the fading sky, and you are hit. You will fall, and you will die, and no tragic song will play for you. There will not be a slow motion scene where thousands crowd around to mourn your fate. Even your fellow soldiers are oblivious, each of them are tunnel-visioned with each pore dripping pure terror, no one would notice you collapse alongside them, gulping your last few lungfuls of air. And slowly, the world fades out in an ocean of pain, and you shut your eyes for the last time.

And Hollywood still insists on dementing this reality to an unrecognizable, ninety minute story of heroism.

Still worse are the causes for these “legal” massacres. Money and territory are the powder keg that lies dormant until someone flicks in a match. Land is land; it does not change if you drive in a sign that says “Cuba” or “Spain.” The “rightful owner” of the territory changes nothing, yet hundreds of thousands of people died in battle and in camps over this dispute. And it is truly sad when a nation values economics over human life.

The problem is disassociation. The civilians handed and gun and stuck on the front lines were not the ones who decided to go to war. And while these people are left to die in a foreign land, the politicians responsible sit in their cozy desk chairs giving speeches about patriotism and justice to the blood thirsty media. The Shaolin Monks of China were deadly masters of kung fu. They trained tirelessly for hours every day to master this art, but it was a matter of honor to only use this in self defense. They never banded together to march into neighboring countries. They never shouted “Obey us or you die!” to terrified villagers.

Where has the honor gone? The word had been stretched and torn and disfigured, and soon it meant wielding a gun and raining fire on another nation to “better your own country.”

We’ve hit a point of no return, as a nation, as a world. There is no reverting to the ethics of the monks; the world cannot conform to pacifist ways. And we continue to value map labels above our own lives.



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M.A.C. said...
Nov. 23, 2009 at 7:36 pm:
I agree. War is definitely undefinable.
 
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