November 12, 2010

Lest We Forget

Just as individuals can suffer from a variety of delusional mental conditions, so too, whole societies exhibit signs of collective psychoses.
This hidden malady becomes especially apparent to me every year around the ironically named 'Remembrance Day.'

To me, that is the day we (society) pay special tribute to the soldiers who gave their lives or their health while serving in uniform in some military capacity... so that we can purge our emotions about the whole foolishness of war, and carry on for another year without reconsidering it.

For Canadians, it's a day when we can feed our fantasies about our military adventures with the comforting assurances that our troops, like glorified boy scouts, go abroad to bring peace, order, and good government to hapless nations. There's a whole matrix of subsidiary delusions that all contribute to the military myth. A major element is patriotism, which entails not only love of country but protection of all things Canadian, especially our soldiers... or perhaps, our illusions about our soldiers.

If we really wanted to protect our troops, we would simply not send them into far-away wars with no obvious benefit to Canada. But that little truth is always plastered over with copious platitudes about 'defending democracy,' and such flimsy nonsense. A little insight should show anyone that a poverty-stricken region like Afghanistan poses no threat to Canada, especially if we'd been prudent enough to maintain at least the thin veneer of honest broker that this country once enjoyed before becoming what amounts to 'Amerika-lite.'

Of course, any suggestion that 'our wars' are as futile as all the others is met with instant hostility and accusations of dishonoring our valiant soldiers who died so that I could make my outrageous claims. Yes, the regular soldiers place themselves in harm’s way to carry out the commands of the generals back in HQ... who are carrying out the orders from the politicians who happen to be in office when the 'threats' are addressed. We must honor their sacrifices, and that means a group pretense that it was all worthwhile, and forget about nagging doubts that haunt the memories of the survivors and their loved ones.

We are locked in this sick pattern of lamenting the loss of our youth in recurring wars, while refusing to squarely face the question of why we get involved in these conflicts in the first place. As long as society persists in this unhealthy cycle, there is no hope of ever ending it.

And so, while individuals can go to psychiatrists for deliverance from their delusions, societies simply lurch along, nurturing their myths until some national crisis arises to render denial no longer viable, and the therapy is drastic.

It's early November and, once again, time to remember, lest we forget. But, what do we choose to remember? We get focused on the departed, and invent a mythos that makes their untimely demise somehow valuable. Anyone who tries to ask the fundamental questions about how this happens, is ignored or denounced as unpatriotic.

It’s November 12, and we can now carry on sending more young soldiers off to war, satisfied with the promise that we’ll honor them next Remembrance Day if they should make the ultimate sacrifice.

I call it madness; few seem to agree.

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