Pray for War
"Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace. Where there is hatred,
let me sow love, Where there is offense, pardon, Where there is
discord, unity, Where there is doubt, faith, Where there is
error, truth, Where there is despair, hope, Where there is
sadness, joy, Where there is darkness, light. O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand, To be loved as to love. For it
is in giving that we receive, It is in pardoning that we are
pardoned, It is in dying that we are born to eternal life."
by Giovanni Francesco Bernardone, Saint Francis of Assisi
If you listened to most spokesmen, all of whom are trying to
persuade you to adopt their perspective, you would think that
everybody except them is agitating for war! They
would have you believe that they, and only they, are instruments
of peace and well being and prosperity in this earthly paradise.
That's pure bunkum, malarkey or persiflage, to put it politely.
The truth cannot be parsed from a multiplicity of distortions and
falsifications, and the pose of objectivity is just
another fraudulent device. Such exclusivity is reminiscent of the
old sardonic dismissal: all of them are wrong or suspect or
whatever, except thee and me, and I'm not too sure about
Nice company, but neither realistic nor practical. Some people
can't even get along with themselves, much less others, but none
of us lives in an ideal world. Community, by definition, is the
process of getting along with our neighbors, many of whom we
dislike, some of whom are disreputable and dangerous. And what
are international relations except the problems of
interpersonal relations writ large, with barriers of custom and
The media, which thrives on controversy in the same way that
lawyers benefit from dissension, would have you believe that
nobody is happy, that everybody is upset about something, that
many people are suffering, and that a few people are responsible
for all this strife ... the identities shifting depending upon
which allegedly unbiased journalists are reporting to which
captive audience of true believers.
Please don't misunderstand ... all of the liars probably believe
they're telling the truth, but there is no singular static truth
... not in human affairs. And I have never found people to be
willing to change their hearts and minds as a result of
words or facts. After all, information is a
weapon too. When used against our pet prejudice, it's condemned
as disinformation or propaganda.
I used to be astonished by the state of affairs wherein my fellow
citizens preferred to believe our nation's enemies rather than
trust their own government and their own neighbors ... but I was
young and innocent, and my idealism made me somewhat gullible.
And, since we reap what we sow, the mistrust that now pervades
our society is a result of the chicanery and betrayal employed
against our own populace. Whether successive generations can
restore a sense of mutuality before our institutions are forever
dismantled is debatable ... and a fight for another day coming.
While our factionalism continues to impress me, I'm surprised
that more people haven't grown impatient with the outright
manipulation. We are repeatedly treated to variants of How
can we fool them today? scenarios, and yet they continue to
evoke the expected response. I would think that the cries of
wolf would pall after such persistent usage. Sages tell
us that history repeats itself, and the patterns of action and
insight echo through the ages, but so do the utter stupidities.
If we can see the right then we can see the
wrong and change accordingly ... except that we are not
doing so, for any number of reasons. As the pundits also say:
mankind has brains but that doesn't mean that he uses them!
America may be unique in all of history for having a substantial
population working for its destruction without punishment or
retribution, and without (as yet) the disintegration of the
edifice. It's tempting to construe an analogy to Samson and the
collapse of the Temple, but we really are the ultimate experiment
in human liberty, and the best hope for freedom around the world.
I am not vindictive enough to compel these traitors and cowards
to live in an environment that would not indulge their foibles,
that would mock their pleas for civil liberties and trounce their
pretentious principles. But I resent their ignorance and
arrogance. In their childish tantrum, they are attempting to
destroy what better men have wrought, what many of us still
cherish, and what is categorically irreplaceable.
They have impugned me as a warmonger because I have gone
to war on their behalf, have done what they would not do ... what
some of them claim they could never do and should never be done,
under any circumstances. At least some of them, those with
religious convictions, have volunteered to serve as medics,
knowing that the results of war would affect them more because of
the tenets of their faith. We, who have undergone the
crucible of battle, have been accused of heinous crimes
simply for being in the combat zone, for wearing the uniform, for
surviving war and enduring its aftermath. What we have achieved
should endear us to our countrymen, but they have compounded our
degradation with callous dismissal. They are the
ones filled with hate!
They are the ones seething with violent passion
... forever angry, always malicious.
Every soldier knows that emotions cannot be sustained on the
battlefield. So unless someone is pathological, emotions are
momentary and transient. Soldiers do not hate their
enemy ... for one thing, there isn't enough spare energy to hate
anyone in combat, and besides, the enemy is anonymous, and hate
is a personal emotion. But soldiers are constantly accused of
being pathological killers who murder innocent babies
and slaughter innocuous animals and rape vulnerable women ...
such grotesque fantasies! Their mantra seems to
be: so much hatred and so little time!
A rational postulate contends that if men go into the military
with a hostile attitude then the soldier comes home from war with
all hostility exhausted. This is relatively true because the
horrors of war are sufficient to mature the most boneheaded
person, but most military personnel don't experience actual
fighting during wartime. What the military does is impose a
strict discipline upon the individual until they acquire the
habit of self-discipline, and simultaneously offers them a
community of fellow sufferers with whom to commiserate. Given the
mental and physical challenges of a stressful tour of duty in a
hazardous area, most people grow up as quickly as
possible. In a society that delays maturation and postpones
responsibility well beyond childhood, veterans are profoundly
precocious when compared to their sheltered peers. To assert that
someone with practical experience and personal insight is
ruthless or bloodthirsty is churlish and
specious. Veterans know what war truly means and are the
last to wish for it; but when confronted with the obligations of
war, they are not afraid to resolve it. Conflict
resolution may be the current euphemism for war
fighting, but it's still a dirty and dangerous job that
someone has to undertake on behalf of others.
The world is full of persuaders vying for your adoption, but my
espousal of good sense is not among them. Those
self-annointed arbitrators of progress do not have a monopoly on
right thought and right action ... as almost
everybody has hope for the best. Without a belief in
betterment, we are doomed to devolve. That each of us is
presented with more challenges than rewards is an opportunity to
develop strength of character. Believe what you will,
but only a fool prays for war! And soldiers are among the many
who pray for peace ... for peace and harmony and love.
by Argus Deiktik
... who is a combat veteran, a schoolteacher, and a freelance
writer, whose work has appeared previously in this magazine.