Posts Tagged ‘army’

Armed Forces Day

Saturday, June 29th, 2013 | Religion & Politics


Today is Armed Forces Day. A event that I am sure we will all agree to be a very important one.

After all, it’s easy to overlook the armed forces. Too often we think about heros who save likes, likes doctors and firefighters, and forget about those people who do just the opposite – take lives away. In exchange for money.

It’s not easy to shoot in Iraqi civilian in the face. That’s not a joke – it’s genuinely very difficult. And even if you manage it, you then have to live with the fact that you’re a murder for the rest of your life. Even if you leave the military in good physical health, veterans often suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.

So let us take the time to remember those who accept our tax money in exchange for killing other people. The sad reality is that they too are a victim of the military venerating brainwashed society we live in.

New recruitment campaign

Thursday, September 27th, 2012 | Photos, Religion & Politics

Venerating the military

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011 | Religion & Politics, Thoughts

The Humanist Society of West Yorkshire recently had a discussion about whether we should participate in an official remembrance service, as many faith groups do and the BHA had encouraged local groups to join in by laying a wreath. In the end, the group decided not to, because there was a split feeling about whether it was a cause we should endorse.

After all, killing is wrong. The military is not a positive institution; it’s an institution of death. In a perfect world, it wouldn’t exist.

Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world and the military does exist in practically every country in the world. Even Switzerland has a small armed forces. War is even arguably necessary – though in some cases, significantly less so than others.

Yet we, as a society, have a great reverence for the military. The United States, significantly more so. Being a solider is something noble, something to be looked up to, people sacrificing themselves for their country. This is an attitude reinforced by many different groups within our society and is deeply ingrained in our traditions.

But, I would propose that this isn’t congruent with many peoples attitudes. Many people, humanists and religious people alike, strongly detest the idea of war. A million people marched through the streets of London to protest against the Iraq war.

And anyway, is it really that noble to sacrifice yourself in such a way? The military is quite well paid, not to mention you get accommodation, free meals, a company car (so the advert picturing a young soldier driving a tank would have me believe) and get to travel round the world going to a variety of interesting, if a little dangerous, places.

Not to mention the fact that many people sacrifice themselves in a similar way. Yes, soliders can be seen as putting their lives on the line to keep us safe (though when was the last time sovereign British territory was under threat – The Falklands?), but similarly fishing is a very dangerous industry, it has one of the highest mortality rates of any industry and yet we don’t have remembrance days for those who lost their lives filling Tesco with cod fillets. This special privilege is afforded to the military alone.

However, I think I have an idea why. Much like Doctor Who’s The Beast Below, it’s hiding a terrible secret that none of us really want to acknowledge – giving special reverence to the military is the only way we can trick poor people into going to fight the wars we want to fight, so that we don’t have to go ourselves.

That, I suspect, is the cold hard truth.

We always send the poor to go die in our wars. It’s not officially conscription but when you have little education, little chance of gaining a well paid job and improving your quality of life significantly, the military must sometimes seem like the only option. It’s called economic conscription. It’s a condition created intentionally by us as a society, to railroad poor people into joining the army.

However, simply by forcing people to join up, doesn’t mean that you can automatically get them to lay down their lives for their country. You can brainwash them of course, and that is essentially what basic training is, but the best way is to make them think there is some noble, higher cause for what they are doing.

In a way, there is. It’s just not one that we think is personally worth fighting for. Because given the choice, none of us are going to join the military. It’s not worth it – we might die, and there is nothing worse than dying. That’s the worst thing that can happen to you, the end of the line, nothing is worth your life.

But we have a problem. Wars need to be fought. This is a whole separate argument in itself, but lets agree that whether we personally agree that wars need to be fought or not – society on balance, especially the government, thinks that wars do need to be fought. More so in more clear cut examples like defending ourselves from invasion in World War II, but also you could argue that humanitarian intervention is countries like Iraq, Zimbabwe and North Korea are well worth while.

So the problem is this – how do you fight a just war, if you’re not willing to actually do it yourself because you don’t want to die and as a rational human being you therefore won’t go to war. The solution is simple. You convince other people, through a combination of creating a society which venerates the military and coerces poor people with economic conscription, that it is noble for them to lay down their lives for their country.

But what do you do about this? If you agree that there is in some situations an argument for war, such as those mentioned above, and you agree that as a rational human being you don’t want to go to war, then have you rationalised yourself into a corner where you can morally support the propagation of nobility in military sacrifice? I’m not sure what the answer to that question is yet. Answers on a post card.