For some reason I have been fascinated by World War II since listening to an audio book early last year about a German Air Force Ace and his experience during WWII with a shot-up American bomber (that is putting the whole story succinctly; it is a must read/listen to). My interest was further stoked by four years of work out near White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico (2012-2016). The V-2 rocket was a master of death and destruction that Hitler’s scientist created and brought with them to the United States of America under Operation Paperclip.
But why do I want to slap you? I don’t. At least not just you. I want to slap myself too.
We, collectively as Americans, Canadians, Europeans, Russians, etc…have forgotten what war looks like. So here are a few images to jar your memory. Try to put yourself in any one of the person’s shoes who you see in these pictures.
During this time frame I have also struggled with patriotism. As a combat war veteran I bought into the war machine – hook, line, and sinker. I believed in what we were doing. Or so I thought. I did not fight for my country as much as I did for the men and women I served with. Our political leaders said we were supposed to go do something and we signed up to do their bidding in defense of the Constitution of the United States of America. Starting to see the disconnect yet? How does our Constitution apply to other countries and/or citizens of other countries? I am not a 100% isolationist now, but I am definitely a believer in pulling back our forces from around the world to invest in our nation again on multiple levels: spiritual, economic, educational, and scientifically.
One of my points for this posts is this: I realized I was a pawn on someone else’s chess board – whether that was political or corporately I am not entirely sure, but I was done.
This has caused me to question our nation’s history, prior wars, foreign policies, and just nationalism in general.
But then I started reading and watching documentaries about World War II. About the German men who believed that what they were doing was not only right, but that it was justified and necessary for the success of the human race to its highest capability. Only thing was, they were picking who got to be human and I am not okay with that.
Or am I? My actions seem to indicate that I place a higher priority on some people’s lives than others. I bet yours is the same way. Maybe it is survival?
And then I thought about what would have happened if we had stayed out of the war? Or how about this….what would have happened if we did not drop two atomic bombs on Japan and instead tried to fight two major wars on two different fronts? The answer is: WE WOULD HAVE BEEN CONQUERED.
To what end? This is the important question. Japanese nationalist believed that we were not human either. That is why American and Allied prisoners of war were treated as harshly as they were. How about Nazi Germany? If you were of European descent and could prove that you had no inferior blood in your blood line then your family might have lived. Otherwise….
But I see history starting to be rewritten before my eyes. As we become comfortable in our 1st World society where instant gratification reigns supreme I am becoming more fearful that we are forgetting the horrors of the past 100 years. I despise America’s ‘drone’ policy where we are killing thousands of so called insurgents, terrorist, key leaders within various terrorist networks, etc… under the premise that these men and women are plotting our demise. It is akin to the movie Minority Report in which people are arrested and sentenced for a crime before they even commit it because the three ‘gifted’ women are able to see crimes before they happen. However, I am fully aware of the intensity of the hatred towards the infidel by Islamic conservatives. I am not deluded into thinking that Imams are going to change their tune if we stopped killing their proselytes, but doesn’t the killing have to stop somewhere even in the face of an ideology that seeks to wipe other humans from the face of the earth?
Isn’t there a better way forward that treats them as humans with equal rights and protections as what our founding documents for this great nation believe are inherent for each individual (which ironically and sadly was not inherent to all humans when it was written but only applied to white or European male land owners). But it was a step in the right direction. And this brings me to the main point of this post.
It is extremely important to understand that good and evil are not arbitrary terms (just check out this pinterest site and shoot me an email if you think morality is relative still). If good and evil were arbitrary then why should we have interfered and intervened during World War II? Maybe a more important question to ask is whether we all have gotten away from not just standing up for what is good,but living it in our own lives as well? Why is it we let conversations around us happen that tear down the fabric of goodness that has been a beacon of hope for those suffering in America and beyond? Does war bring peace? It does, but the peace that war brings is temporal and painful (see above pictures again).
I worry that I am setting myself up for weakness by being concerned for the ‘things’ of this world instead of being more concerned with the welfare, morality, and hope of my fellow man.
So let me encourage you with this bit of advice; when you find yourself burdened by your first world problem then remember to slap yourself and to slap those you love who you see going down the path of self-absorption and self-pity too. There are people dying in this world because they are of the wrong religion, race, political party, sect, etc… They are reachable through various organizations and possibly your local religious group. There are people dying in your neighborhood, community, town, and city from malnourishment, living in a home without hope, fear, neglect, and more. Please. PLEASE. Keep your eyes open to see who you can help. At the grocery store, Lowe’s, Walmart, Kroger, etc… can you put up a wayward cart? Can you pay for the person’s groceries in front of you or behind you? Can you ask the cashier if you can do anything for them to make their day better? Can you mow a person’s lawn who can’t afford lawn service? Does someone you know have children who needs new shoes? Is it sinking in yet? Slap yourself before someone close to you slaps you first.
We are not in a position to make nuclear decisions but our decisions on the small level have ripple affects that impact the entire world. Help stop the next war and write your congressional representatives and senators to tell them to stop using drones to kill people in other nations. Invest in the people around you because they have inherent value as human being.