Sorrow after war:
Back in the mist of early youth I received some coaching from my father about art.  So far as I could see American art was ugly.  European art was beautiful.  Everything else was weird.  When years later I turned my hand to it, my art was weird, too.  A great exception was Norman Rockwell, an American painter with a warm heart.  One of his paintings was of a soldier, little older than a boy, coming home from war.  It was a modest, crowded urban neighborhood.  Family and neighbors cheered and greeted him with open arms.  His girl was looking bashful and adoring.  He was home in one piece and everything was going to be all right. 

Viet Nam taught us that things don’t work out that way a lot of the time.  I made a sort of personal crusade to turn attention to the difficulties that combat veterans were having.  I have no idea whether I accomplished anything, but at least attention was given to them.

But all is not well.  (The Waiting Wounded ECONOMIST vol. 406 no. 8828 March 23, 2013 page 33)  The article says that “Nearly half of the 1.6 million soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have asked for disability benefits from the government.”  This is an increase and some of the increase is due to better field medical care of the wounded.  More survive.  The VA system charged with helping veterans has crumbled under the load.  The Navy SEAL, a member of a highly motivated, high morale outfit has filed for disability (and is still waiting).  So far as I know he wasn’t wounded; his problem is that he shot somebody.  It was under orders, indeed, but I don’t see the people who sent him there apologizing. 

Maybe the gloomiest number is that in 2012 more combat soldiers died of suicide than of combat.

Obviously two things must be done.  The VA has to be fixed pronto and we have to stop getting into wars.

I am not a total pacifist.  If we need to deploy people to defend our shores, let them be defended.  Ironically this is not being done.  We have immigration, much of it (my voice cracks) not even legal.  Yet we are told that immigration is a good thing and that Americans favor it.  I don’t believe it at all.  And if it isn’t necessary to defend our borders, what in the world are we doing having a military anyway?  Yet we spend more on the military than does the rest of the world combined. 

The inescapable truth to me is that warfare is simply not a fit activity for a human being.  It isn’t what we are about.  It isn’t what we want to do.  It isn’t in our nature. 

I have thought as much for many years.  There is a line from the movie “Conspiracy Theories”: “Doesn’t anybody see what I see?”  The answer is “no” on a number of counts, but this one seems to me to be something you can’t possibly miss.

I think the fact of war is an exaggeration and perversion of a perfectly healthy instinct.  You have to marry medium distant kin.  Otherwise your population will die out.  So you have an instinct to recognize kin and be drawn to them.  That instinct now is generally ignored.  Instead we turn violent against people who are quite different indeed.  That hostility is totally misplaced.  Once you get out past tenth cousin or so, everybody in the world is the same: do not marry them if you cherish anything for you are sacrificing your future contribution to everything, and for goodness sake don’t try to harm anybody.  Maybe for purposes of civil peace there need to be rules and those rules need to be maintained by main force and even violence.  I cannot prove otherwise.  We probably do need our police.

But if we drew the line where it belongs, where it has biological meaning, where the edge of our acceptable mating pool lies, maybe we would learn that all that outside violence is unwarranted.  Putting an end to such wholesale slaughter of course would be a welcome side benefit to the real prize, which would be survival.

There have been 85 visitors over the past month.

Home page