Friday, July 30, 2004

Something I just don't get

Something I just don't get

I was mulling over the Kerry speech in my head today and it hit me. I just don't get the military thing. At all.

Maybe it's the deep resentment of any type of authority that I got from some unknown place deep inside me. Maybe it's pacifism - although I think I'm more anti-authority that I am truly a pacifist. A real pacifist would be more at inner peace than I am. Or maybe it's just that no one in my immediate family was ever in the military, just a couple cousins who are basically strangers, so I was never acclimated to that culture.

Why is it that "serve your country" means "serve your country in the military"? My parents served our country. They were teachers for about 35 years each. I consider my little courthouse job to be "serving my country".

Our office is next door to the National Guard. It gives me the willies. I just don't understand how someone can accept that type of social order, where you die or kill without questioning "orders" from your "superiors". How does any one get to be "superior" in a society where all men are created equal? (well, except women, blacks, Natives, poor people...) How can you defend democracy with an institution that is fundamentally undemocratic?

I understand that in the draft days it was different. And I understand that our economy gives some people very little real choice. But, without trying to come off as morally superior or anything: everybody over in Iraq now volunteered.

I read a couple years back that attitudes toward military service is one of those party indicators, like church attendance. Looks like I'm definitely a blue state kind of guy. One of the first things I ever liked about Bill Clinton was when they released his "I loathe the military" letter. They say Kerry has to talk about this stuff to build up his defense bona fides and to win over those all important, 6 percent, Fear Factor swing voters. Well, I guess. But it leaves me... well, just empty. Kerry's military stuff balances out for me: he's not a chickenhawk hypocrite like a certain Acting President, and VVAW was a brilliant rhetorical stroke. You can't bash these guys for being against the war, they WENT! But the saga of the swift boat, the band of brothers, the honor and duty - it just doesn't connect, and I don't think it ever will.

I don't get the rituals, I don't get the ceremonies, I don't get the mindset, I don't get it at all. To me it all seems like some kind of primitive throwback to the feudal lords.

Good thing I'm never going to run for office again, huh?

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