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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Poor, Dumb Sonsabitches

There must be one good reason above all that the soldiers of any nation are always drawn almost entirely from a particular segment of the population, one that, believe it or not, I was once a willing part of. The reason must lie in the fact that the aptitude most required to be a good soldier consists of recklessness combined with an abnormally high number of unused brain cells, and this mix is most often found in males in the first stages of their adulthood.

Compared to that, the fact that these men are also the ones most likely to be strong, agile, and fast on their feet is important but still secondary.

Youth must necessarily carry with it a certain degree of obtuseness, hiked even higher because they are totally unaware that this condition marks them, and instead they are absolutely convinced that they are in full possession of the facts. But the reality is that they haven't been in the world long enough to pick up enough information to be able to figure out the real truths of things, and along with that they are also necessarily lacking in the ability to determine how to dodge, as much as possible, the nonsense that is always offered by societies and individuals, though it seems that this can never be done with all of it.

When you think about it, a person, especially one still close to the dawn of his life, has to be fatally deficient in his thought processes to be ready and willing to give up the only life he will ever have for something he will forever afterward be unable to enjoy, his country.

Ironically, it is almost always the case that that society for which he is so willing to take some bullets will not have been nearly as generous in giving him some breaks in life as it had been with those who will remain behind to throw dirt on his coffin. In fact in most cases this youth joined the military precisely to get some better breaks, though he was allowed to do so only at the cost of making the supreme gamble that he will survive to enjoy them.

Nothing is more miraculous than a single human life here on Planet Earth. Remind yourself -- or let space travel experts inform you -- of how unimaginably far you would have to travel anywhere in the universe to find anything like it. But the existence of any nation at all falls somewhat short of being a marvel. High ideals are wonderful things to have, but countries also have governments that are too easily and often taken over by groups of gangsters who don't hesitate to set those ideals aside when they see a chance to aggrandize the country and themselves at the expense of others, or they misuse the power centers of the country to engage in endless petty squabbles, the resolution of which by peaceful means they dismiss as being only unacceptable exercises in weakness.

In sending out young men to so donate such a precious thing as their lives -- an act that in no way benefits them while the rest of the more clever elements in the population can continue to enjoy their lives for many years to come -- we hand out useless war decorations by the bucketful, and we play fast and loose with the term "hero" by applying it to anybody who puts on a uniform and picks up a gun.

That it is mandatory for a soldier to have a certain lack of wits if he is not naturally suicidal was unintentionally conceded by no less an authority on the matter than that legendary Soldier of Soldiers, the late General George S. Patton, during the Second Stage of the current Endless World War -- that is, if the speech that the late great actor, Sir George W. Scott, gave in the unforgettable beginning of the film about the pistol-packing general is accurate.

Boys, I just want you to remember one thing, Patton tells his men. Nobody ever won a war ...by giving up his life ...for his country. (Another sideways stride and a slap of his riding crop on his horse-riding boots that had been polished so diligently by his ever-reliable Rainbow orderly --I am telling this as it stands so vividly in my memory rather than verifying it on DVD.) He won the war instead by making the other poor, dumb son of a bitch die for his country."

In an earlier time, while looking at the results of yet another wholesale taking and giving of lives that he himself had ordered, another U.S. general -- W.T. Sherman I think it was -- said something like, It is well that war is so horrible, else we would become too fond of it.

What a tragedy it is for all concerned that those numerous poor, dumb souls that lay at his feet, along with the countless millions of others who are now feeding the grasses from below in forgotten fields all over the world, can't, on one particular day every year in May, send up from the earth in terrible unison the reply, Yeah! That's easy for you to say!


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