I recently saw a picture of a woman lying on an air mattress in front of a casket covered with an American flag. Perhaps you've seen it. The man in the casket is her husband, 2nd Lt. James Cathey of the United States Marine Corps, killed in Iraq. As I read through the 7,000+ comments underneath the photo, I noticed a common theme. Weeping, crying, sadness, respect, amazing, bless the wife, God bless our troops...these are some of the phrases they used to express their feelings. People were of course reaching out to the woman and her family and were sad for her loss. Some were thanking the soldier for serving our country, referring to him as patriotic and other heroic terms. Some people even said things like, "this is awesome!"
Among these comments I also spotted a single person who, though saddened by this photo, also passionately expressed his hatred for the war which would cause such a death. He seemed to believe that such a death was unnecessary, and could have been prevented.
As I continued reading, I saw this latter commenter labeled by others as disrespectful, jerk, douche bag, an embarrassment, sad, miserable, a 'bored' human being, and a sadist.
American families today have invested much in our efforts to "spread democracy". They believe implicitly that what we are doing in these other countries is done for our own protection. Their dedication and faith in such a belief is obvious. Would they risk the lives of their husbands, their brothers, sisters, and sons in a war for which they had any doubts as to its reasoning? Would men dedicate their lives to something they didn't believe was a just cause? Would they?
How embarrassing, how awful, and how hurtful would it be for Americans and American families today to acknowledge that we have gone too far? How difficult would it be for us to say that our loved ones had died in a unjustifiable war? It is no wonder that this controversial commenter was so pummeled with criticism and name-calling. If your husband died for a cause which someone criticized, would you not be angry too? Of course you would.
But, what if you found out later that this person was right? Would you not be angry for a different reason? Would you not begin to question those who gave him his orders, or even those who continue to follow such orders? You may actually come to appreciate this person's information. True, it would take some time, and a tremendous amount of pain. But would you not want to know the truth?
Now, obviously there is a time and place for everything. But after our mourning, have we not as a society tried to prevent deaths when possible? If someone dies in a car accident, don't we want to do what we can to prevent such accidents in the future? If someone has information about a war being unjust, are we too good, too prideful to listen without criticizing them? Will the death of our loved ones be honored any more by accepting a lie? How many more should die just because we are so blindly invested? Is this REALLY patriotism??
People seem to see a sort of "beauty" in this photo. They see a hero, while I see a terrible tragedy. This man had so much faith in the lies, the propaganda, the military commercials, that he truly believed that risking his life for this cause would in fact bring safety to his family, while defending our freedom. His wife is now alone, and his kids (if he had any), will be forced to live without a father. Of course it's sad. It's terrible!
America is in the business of nation building. We now have so many bases in so many countries, that the actual numbers are difficult to keep track of. Some say that the US has more than 1,000 military bases dotting the globe. Some say the numbers are much higher. How would we feel if other countries had bases in OUR country? We're trying to "spread our democracy?" What if other countries came over here to "spread their communism?" Would we welcome them with open arms? Do their military bases have any business over here?
America is now over $14 TRILLION in debt. More than $700 billion of this is for the military and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over 14 million are unemployed. The economy and, not to mention, the morality of our country is in shambles. Isn't it about time we get our own house in order?
On January 17th, 1961, Dwight Eisenhower, in his farewell address, warned about the dangers of standing armies and the military industrial complex:
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together....
I believe these lives are sacred. Sometimes, I believe death can be justified. However, if there is any doubt that what we are fighting for justifies these deaths, we MUST swallow our pride and carefully examine the possibility that our faith could be misplaced. We say, "God bless our troops." I say let us pray that more of these troops will begin to study and perhaps question just WHAT they are doing -- and WHO they are serving. Let's start supporting those troops who are scared to death that they will be criticized if they start to examine their own actions and go against the status quo. Let us begin to challenge our own beliefs about what truly is patriotic, no matter how much it hurts our pride.
If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. - 2 Chronicles 7:14