What’s a Brother To Do?
It will come as no surprise that I struggle with Veterans Day. Memorial Day too. The idea of national holidays that glory in war makes me, as a follower of Jesus and as a person committed to non-violence, feel very uncomfortable.
Don’t get me wrong…I have nothing but respect for veterans in the same way that I have respect for every other person. The reasons why people choose to serve in our armed forces are many and varied. For those who really believe they are serving the cause of freedom here at home, how could you not offer respect?
However, I have to say…the US has not fought a war having anything to do with freedom in over 70 years. We now live in a time of perpetual warfare, committed not to the cause of freedom, but to the aims of corporate greed and imperial hegemony.
Our corporations are nothing more than war profiteers. The Constitutional boundaries that give authority for war are routinely ignored. We have trivialized war. Our use of drones increasingly separate us from the immediacy of military action and it’s human toll. We have set precedent for maximizing our military might while convincing ourselves that we’re minimizing the costs in American lives. We care nothing for the lives of others.
We exalt our military personnel as heroic, worthy of our admiration. And yet, when they return from service we provide them with nothing by way of health care, housing, and support. We have turned them into convenient tools, and use holidays such as today to whip ourselves into nationalistic frenzy - because how can we not support our Veterans, right? We live in mythologies rather than in truth.
And the truth is that the United States has become an aggressor nation, whose wars are maintained to be for the cause of peace - and after over a decade of military adventures we all ought to be capable by now of seeing this for the lie that it is.
We maintain that we are a Christian nation. There is no such thing. And it is striking to me how passionately we wrap ourselves in the flag rather than the mantle of peace.
If you want to support our Veterans, if you want to honor them; if you want to ensure that they are treated with the respect they deserve, then do your part to ensure that we never again fight a war on foreign soil merely to protect the interests of the corporate class. That same corporate class that profits from war at a distance, and then lobbies for cuts to programs that benefit the very people who have put their lives on the line to protect their interests.
Your freedoms aren’t being protected by our men and women who serve. Your freedoms are being undermined by the architects of war. Your freedoms are being sold for corporate profit.
Yes…it is a hard day for me. And so, committed as I am to following the Prince of Peace; and desiring as I do not to disrespect anyone, my wish for our Veterans is to have - at the very least - the security and care that you were promised in exchange for doing what you believe is right.
And as for the rest of us? We ought to repent! Repent sincerely that we have given our permission — either by silence or by nationalist fervor, by fear or folly — for the violence done in our name.