Sunday, June 26, 2005

If I Was a Soldier...

As a pacifist, I never spent much time thinking about what it would be like to be a soldier in a war. I grew up watching John Wayne war movies, but, even as a young lad, I realized these flicks were over-romanticized and sanitized versions of reality. Suffice it to say, I thought war must be a dirty business and anyone who willingly served must be itching to kill somebody.

My perspective changed dramatically upon seeing the 1986 movie, Platoon. As my soon-to-be wife & I left the theater in Kansas City, my reaction to the film was far different than most of the other males headed toward their cars in the parking lot. I heard lots of comments like "Ooh man, that was cool" or "Hey, let's go see it again."

I was numb and somber. My fiance was worried about my reaction. I didn't say much at the time and I brooded for several days. To put it bluntly, the film blew me away.

As happens with most good films, I tried to put myself in the place of Charlie Sheen's character. How do I think I would have reacted in those situations? My answer to this question may surprise you.

Despite the fact I'm a devout pacifist, I really don't know how I would react to lots of people I don't know trying to kill me. I'm fairly certain I would be scared beyond belief. I also realize that absolute fear can cause people to do things they could never imagine themselves doing. I realize that there's a 50/50 chance that -- if placed in such a horrific situation -- I could become a capable killer!

If a person is overwhelmed with fear, people are shooting at you and you have an automatic weapon in your hand, one way to mitigate the terror for the moment is to shoot back and try to kill those trying to kill you. In fact, if fear becomes your constant companion, one might easily get to the point where, if anything moves, you shoot first and ask questions later.

We hear about cases in every war in which friendly fire is the cause of death for one or more of our own servicemen/women. Just as often, there are reports of innocent bystanders who are gunned down by trigger-happy soldiers. While such reports greatly disturb me, I understand that many soldiers have a reason to be trigger-happy; fear was in total control. They weren't thinking, they were on automatic pilot. Something moved; they shot it.

It is because of all these contemplations that I feel great empathy for some of those serving today in the US military. I say "some" because I believe there are two different types of soldiers.

I believe that the majority of service personnel have signed on for honorable reasons. They believe they are serving our country. If given the choice, they'd want to do almost anything other than go into combat to shoot people. In other words, killing the enemy is disturbing to them, but they do so out of a steadfast belief in duty.

There's a second group of individuals who join the military who I have no empathy for whatsoever. These are the men who seem EAGER to kill. These are the men who whine when there's a lull in the battle. These are the type of guys who mug for the camera and brag about gunning down gooks, ragheads or whatever other derisive name is "fashionable".

Fortunately, these "let's go gun 'em down" types are the minority. I'd be awfully worried about the future of humankind if they were the majority.

I'm glad that I've never been put in the position to be a soldier in any war. I'm scared to think how I would have handled it. This goes a long way toward explaining why I'm even more steadfast against warfare than before. As a person who cares about others as much as myself, I don't like the idea of placing other people into this situation. I don't like the idea of others wondering to themselves, "Will my fear turn me into trigger-happy killing machine?"

If there is no war, there would be no need for a such a question ever to be asked...or answered.


  1. WOW, A great reason for people like you too enjoy the freedoom too express yourself(nothing wrong with that),but in these end times, that freedoom seems to be a high octane fuel for those that you have "tolerence" for who when the "excrement" hits that fan, will tell you.."GO MY WAY, OR LOOSE YOUR HEAD!" and since you will not fight for what you sign your name to COWARD...People like me, my son, and others who now have more "trigger time" then his old man, the stance of a pacfist, will get us all killed.

    At 47, WHY DIDN'T YOU SERVE AS A COMBAT MEDIC??? bet you were not 4F either.

    Al-Jazeera to look at open U.S. border
    Arab news network interested in lack of security

    Posted: June 25, 2005
    1:00 a.m. Eastern

    © 2005

    The Arab TV news network criticized by the new Iraqi government and others for its anti-American bias and willingness to carry the messages of terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida, is headed for the U.S.-Mexico border to document how easy it is to enter America illegally.

    Chris Simcox

    Al-Jazeera has contacted Minuteman Civil Defense Corps leader Chris Simcox to try to arrange interviews. Simcox, who rejected the request for cooperation with the TV network, says al-Jazeera, seen by millions throughout the Arab world and elsewhere, is producing an hour-long documentary news special on lack of security at the U.S. southern border.

    Al-Jazeera reporter Naisser Hssaini mentioned the increase in apprehensions of illegal aliens known as OTMs – other than Mexicans. These foreigners increasingly include Arabs, Muslims and others from the Middle East. The reporter also mentioned his familiarity with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement police of catching and releasing OTMS – particularly those not specifically known to be on any terrorist watch list.

    "The group has been denied requests for interviews by Minuteman Civil Defense Corps organizers but they still insist on filming the groups’ activities along with the rest of the media during a July 4th weekend mission near Arivaca, Arizona," said Simcox.

    Simcox has contacted the offices of Arizona's two Republican U.S. senators – John McCain and Jon Kyl – to invite them to do interviews with al Jazeera, "so perhaps they can explain to the viewers of this news outlet just how secure America's borders really are."

    "The offices of the Arizona members of the United States House of Representatives will also be contacted to alert them to the presence and the intent by the al-Jazeera news crew to film the lack of security along the U.S. border with Mexico," said Simcox. "The office of the Department of Homeland Security will also be notified. The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps also wonders just what DHS would tell al-Jazeera about the condition of our border security."

    Simcox also mentioned the U.S. Border Patrol has already been notified.

    "Would we allow Japanese or German television to film the unsecured border during World War II?" asked Minuteman spokeswoman Connie Hair. "These people broadcast to the enemies of America. It's not a news story, it's recon."

    The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps is the citizen border patrol that virtually stopped illegal crossings from Mexico in a highly trafficked area of Arizona. It is now making plans for similar actions in other areas, other states and along the Canadian border.

    Dear Mr. Smith, If your stance on war persists,Why don't you give an interview to these folks?

    Then the badguys can be assured that if your offense to defending our country anywhere, at anytime is carrying over to the rest of us, please get off my planet.

  3. Trey admits he is a pacifist - just a cute term that means coward, one the whines and complains yet has no problem reaping the rewards that soldiers have provided. These people bash our country yet they wouldn't think of moving to another. They see evil only in the USA and condone the senseless murdering done by terrorist and so-called insurgents.

    It is more than obvious they have an agenda against our country, against our way of life, against our freedom. The reality is their agenda is getting more and more visible and the freedom-loving people of this country will push their efforts back from whence they came.

    (Probably in no small part thanks to bloggers!)

  4. After reading these 3 tirades, all I can say is the person or persons who wrote them are so filled with hate that it seems to be consuming them.

    Here I wrote a personal piece about how I could envision myself or anyone else becoming a good soldier (i.e., a lean, mean killing machine) and yet this isn't good enough for some. It seems not to be enough to kill out of fear or duty; you must enjoy it with gusto because this particular enemy is viewed as not even human.

    These tirades also spread the fallacy that "good" Americans are those who dare not question or criticize anything that goes on in this country (though it's interesting that the writers of such rants seem to bitch and whine all the time). This nation was founded by dissenters, people who rose up against their government -- some with the gun and some with the pen.

  5. Trey,
    Well I can see what you mean about extremists attacking the person.
    My only observation would be that dissent is pretty much how our country got started. But, I think there is a lot of sensitivity to dissent vice undermining the administration's successful execution of the conflict (war).
    But again, discuss the idea and not attack the person. Later.

  6. I copied and pasted your own words. My question to you from reading your own words. How is it you know anything you said to be true about anyone serving in the Armed Forces of the United States. I think you have watched to many war films. Possibly you pay way to much attention to Hollywood then you should. I will even bet you not only wasted your hard earned money on Mike Moore films, you without doubt believe them to be truth, rather then the fiction they are. Your type amaze me you actually look at Charlie Sheen as a war hero, he is not. Nor the other druggie that was in the film with him. I would like to suggest you trying listening to WABC newstalk radio 77 in the evenings. John Loftus and well know Democrat is on the broadcast with the headliner John Batchelor.You might learn something. If your really into finding out whats going on try website
    Many links to sites can be found there. They are neither Democrat or Republican. It may take you a few weeks to check all the sites
    but you may have a better appreciation of those that sacrifice for our freedom.

    Debbie Button

    I'm glad that I've never been put in the position to be a soldier in any war. I'm scared to think how I would have handled it. This goes a long way toward explaining why I'm even more steadfast against warfare than before. As a person who cares about others as much as myself, I don't like the idea of placing other people into this situation. I don't like the idea of others wondering to themselves, "Will my fear turn me into trigger-happy killing machine?"

  7. How is it you know anything you said to be true about anyone serving in the Armed Forces of the United States.

    This may come as a shock to you, but I know a lot of people who have served in the armed forces: my uncle, my father, 2 sisters-in-law, 3 brothers-in-law and many friends. Some of these people support the war in Iraq and some do not.

    During a peace march in Salem two years ago, I was flanked by 2 War vets (one who served in Vietnam & the other who served in Desert Storm) -- both are staunchly against the current Iraq invasion. You can castigate me all you want because I've never served in the military, but what will you say to people who have served and yet are vehemently opposed to what we're doing in Iraq? Are you going to call them cowards too?

    Both of these vets are heroes. One, in particular, protested at the School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, GA, and was sent to prison for standing up for what he believes in. I call that courage! Last summer he went to Palestine as a peacekeeper, putting himself in harm's way to protect innocent Palestinians. While you may not agree with his actions, I can't think of anything more courageous than that.

    So, to answer your question, yes I've spoken to many in the armed forces. They've told me of their pride in serving our country as well as the fear they felt and their later disillusionment.

  8. It's sad when a reporter says. 'I DON'T KNOW WHAT I WOULD DO '

    Seems to me America should be glad his sister is not doing pat downs at the airports.

  9. Anonymous said...
    Your last comments Mr. Smith speak for themselfs.

    Perhaps history says one thing too you, and too me, something different.

    Your coward rear would not be here,if not for the soldiers who did what they do, for the last 200 plus yrs.

    Your not worthy of breathing the same air with any member of the armed services.

    When your Dad saw my uniform, he called me a "baby killer" and spit on me, for that took 3 SFO cops to pull me off him(GOD, I can still see the blood from his nose) He cried like Dick Durbin, he actually cried.

    The mention of My lai, you didn't mention that the people lead by Cally had just like in the movie you saw...found a "grunt", well shall we say,"pretty messed up" and this village did harbor VC because one, they had no choice, or two they were VC and for that people got wasted.

    That's right, you're aa "veggey" kind of guy, no meat, I KNOW CAN'T KILL ANYTHING.

    I wonder who you would call if you were ever placed in harms way?

    Your pastor? NO, you don't like God, your best friend? Sounds like they maybe few and far, I know, a cop! No, you hate those too, and it would certainly not be the USMC ,because while they would come, it's their duty to place themselfs into harms way to save your worthless ungreatful a--, they would come, and after they removed the threat, your genes, from your Dad, would take over, and perhaps the Gunney Sargent would get to you in time like the SFO cops did me, and then?????

    Mr. SMITH, do me a favor and speak out on other subjects,because this subject is pissing me off, and you, Mr. Smith are boring me.

  10. Hey Anonymous,
    Try reading my post entitled "Pacificism Does Not Equal Cowardice" and see if you can honestly answer the questions in the last 2 paragraphs.

    BTW, my dad (who was in the Army Reserves) wasn't in SF in 1969.

  11. ARMY RESERVES??? Whose army?

  12. US Army. Ever heard of 'em? He was stationed out of Ft. Sill, OK.




Comments are unmoderated, so you can write whatever you want.