Thought pieces

Discussion in 'Dog Brothers Martial Arts' started by Crafty Dog, Dec 14, 2011.

  1. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Why Men Love War
    by William Broyles, Jr.*

    I last saw Hiers in a rice paddy in Vietnam. He was nineteen then--my wonderfully skilled and maddeningly insubordinate radio operator. For months we were seldom more than three feet apart. Then one day he went home, and fifteen years passed before we met by accident last winter at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. A few months later I visited Hiers and his wife, Susan, in Vermont, where they run a bed-and-breakfast place. The first morning we were up at dawn trying to save five newborn rabbits. Hiers built a nest of rabbit fur and straw in his barn and positioned a lamp to provide warmth against the bitter cold.

    "What people can't understand," Hiers said, gently picking up each tiny rabbit and placing it in the nest, "is how much fun Vietnam was. I loved it. I loved it, and I can't tell anybody."

    Hiers loved war. And as I drove back from Vermont in a blizzard, my children asleep in the back of the car, I had to admit that for all these years I also had loved it, and more than I knew. I hated war, too. Ask me, ask any man who has been to war about his experience, and chances are we'll say we don't want to talk about it--implying that we hated it so much, it was so terrible, that we would rather leave it buried. And it is no mystery why men hate war. War is ugly, horrible, evil, and it is reasonable for men to hate all that. But I believe that most men who have been to war would have to admit, if they are honest, that somewhere inside themselves they loved it too, loved it as much as anything that has happened to them before or since. And how do you explain that to your wife, your children, your parents, or your friends?

    That's why men in their sixties and seventies sit in their dens and recreation rooms around America and know that nothing in their life will equal the day they parachuted into St. L or charged the bunker on Okinawa. That's why veterans' reunions are invariably filled with boozy awkwardness, forced camaraderie ending in sadness and tears; you are together again, these are the men who were your brothers, but it's not the same, can never be the same. That's why when we returned from Vietnam we moped around, listless, not interested in anything or anyone. Something had gone out of our lives forever, and our behavior on returning was inexplicable except as the behavior of men who had lost a great--perhaps the great--love of their lives, and had no way to tell anyone about it.

    In part we couldn't describe our feelings because the language failed us: the civilian-issue adjectives and nouns, verbs and adverbs, seemed made for a different universe. There were no metaphors that connected the war to everyday life. But we were also mute, I suspect, out of shame. Nothing in the way we are raised admits the possibility of loving war. It is at best a necessary evil, a patriotic duty to be discharged and then put behind us. To love war is to mock the very values we supposedly fight for. It is to be insensitive, reactionary, a brute.

    But it may be more dangerous, both for men and nations, to suppress the reasons men love war than to admit them. In Apocalypse Now Robert Duvall, playing a brigade commander, surveys a particularly horrific combat scene and says, with great sadness, "You know, someday this war's gonna be over." He is clearly meant to be a psychopath, decorating enemy bodies with playing cards, riding to war with Wagner blaring. We laugh at him--Hey! nobody's like that! And last year in Grenada American boys charged into battle playing Wagner, a new generation aping the movies of Vietnam the way we aped the movies of Vietnam the way we aped the movies of World War II, learning nothing, remembering nothing.

    Alfred Kazin wrote that war is the enduring condition of twentieth-century man. He was only partly right. War is the enduring condition of man, period. Men have gone to war over everything from Helen of Troy to Jenkins's ear. Two million Frenchmen and Englishmen died in muddy trenches in World War I because a student shot an archduke. The truth is, the reasons don't matter. There is a reason for every war and a war for every reason.

    For centuries men have hoped that with history would come progress, and with progress, peace. But progress has simply given man the means to make war even more horrible; no wars in our savage past can begin to match the brutality of the wars spawned in this century, in the beautifully ordered, civilized landscape of Europe, where everyone is literate and classical music plays in every village caf. War is not an aberration; it is part of the family, the crazy uncle we try--in vain--to keep locked in the basement.

    Consider my own example. I am not a violent person. I have not been in a fight since grade school. Aside from being a fairly happy-go-lucky carnivore, I have no lust for blood, nor do I enjoy killing animals, fish, or even insects. My days are passed in reasonable contentment, filled with the details of work and everyday life. I am also a father now, and a man who has helped create life is war's natural enemy. I have seen what war does to children, makes them killers or victims, robs them of their parents, their homes, and their innocence--steals their childhood and leaves them marked in body, mind, and spirit.

    I spent most of my combat tour in Vietnam trudging through its jungles and rice paddies without incident, but I have seen enough of war to know that I never want to fight again, and that I would do everything in my power to keep my son from fighting. Then why, at the oddest times--when I am in a meeting or running errands, or on beautiful summer evenings, with the light fading and children playing around me--do my thoughts turn back fifteen years to a war I didn't believe in and never wanted to fight? Why do I miss it?

    I miss it because I loved it, loved it in strange and troubling ways. When I talk about loving war I don't mean the romantic notion of war that once mesmerized generations raised on Walter Scott. What little was left of that was ground into the mud at Verdun and Passchendaele; honor and glory do not survive the machine gun. And it's not the mindless bliss of martyrdom that sends Iranian teenagers armed with sticks against Iraqi tanks. Nor do I mean the sort of hysteria that can grip a whole country, the way during the Falklands war the English press inflamed the lust that lurks beneath the cool exterior of Britain. That is vicarious war, the thrill of participation without risk, the lust of the audience for blood. It is easily fanned, that lust; even the invasion of a tiny island like Grenada can do it. Like all lust, for as long as it lasts it dominates everything else; a nation's other problems are seared away, a phenomenon exploited by kings, dictators, and presidents since civilization began.


    And I don't mean war as an addiction, the constant rush that war junkies get, the crazies mailing ears home to their girlfriends, the zoomies who couldn't get an erection unless they were cutting in the afterburners on their F-4s. And, finally, I'm not talking about how some men my age feel today, men who didn't go to war but now have a sort of nostalgic longing for something they missed, some classic male experience, the way some women who didn't have children worry they missed something basic about being a woman, something they didn't value when they could have done it.

    I'm talking about why thoughtful, loving men can love war even while knowing and hating it. Like any love, the love of war is built on a complex of often contradictory reasons. Some of them are fairly painless to discuss; others go almost too deep, stir the caldron too much. I'll give the more respectable reasons first.

    Part of the love of war stems from its being an experience of great intensity; its lure is the fundamental human passion to witness, to see things, what the Bible calls the lust of the eye and the Marines in Vietnam called eye ****ing. War stops time, intensifies experience to the point of a terrible ecstasy. It is the dark opposite of that moment of passion caught in "Ode on a Grecian Urn": "Forever warm and still to be enjoy'd/ Forever panting, and forever young." War offers endless exotic experiences, enough "I couldn't ****ing believe it!"'s to last a lifetime.

    Most people fear freedom; war removes that fear. And like a stern father, it provides with its order and discipline both security and an irresistible urge to rebel against it, a constant yearning to fly over the cuckoo's nest. The midnight requisition is an honored example. I remember one elaborately planned and meticulously executed raid on our principal enemy--the U.S. Army, not the North Vietnamese--to get lightweight blankets and cleaning fluid for our rifles, repeated later in my tour, as a mark of my changed status, to obtain a refrigerator and an air conditioner for our office. To escape the Vietnamese police we tied sheets together and let ourselves down from the top floor of whorehouses, and on one memorable occasion a friend who is now a respectable member of our diplomatic corps hid himself inside a rolled-up Oriental rug while the rest of us careered off in the truck, leaving him to make his way back stark naked to our base six miles away. War, since it steals our youth, offers a sanction to play boys' games.

    War replaces the difficult gray areas of daily life with an eerie, serene clarity. In war you usually know who is your enemy and who is your friend, and are given means of dealing with both. (That was, incidentally, one of the great problems with Vietnam: it was hard to tell friend from foe--it was too much like ordinary life.)

    War is an escape from the everyday into a special world where the bonds that hold us to our duties in daily life--the bonds of family, community, work--disappear. In war, all bets are off. It's the frontier beyond the last settlement, it's Las Vegas. The men who do well in peace do not necessarily do well at war, while those who were misfits and failures may find themselves touched with fire. U.S. Grant, selling firewood on the streets of St. Louis and then four years later commanding the Union armies, is the best example, although I knew many Marines who were great warriors but whose ability to adapt to civilian life was minimal.

    I remember Kirby, a skinny kid with JUST YOU AND ME LORD tattooed on his shoulder. Kirby had extended his tour in Vietnam twice. He had long since ended his attachment to any known organization and lived alone out in the most dangerous areas, where he wandered about night and day, dressed only in his battered fatigue trousers with a .45 automatic tucked into the waistband, his skinny shoulders and arms as dark as a Montagnard's.

    One day while out on patrol we found him on the floor of a hut, being tended by a girl in black pajamas, a bullet wound in his arm.

    He asked me for a cigarette, them eyed me, deciding if I was worth telling his story to. "I stopped in for a mango, broad daylight, and there bigger'n hell were three NVA officers, real pretty tan uniforms. They got this map spread out on a table, just eyeballin' it, makin' themselves right at home. They looked at me. I looked at them. Then they went for their nine millimeters and I went for my .45."

    "Yeah?" I answered. "So what happened?"

    "I wasted 'em," he said, them puffed on his cigarette. Just another day at work, killing three men on the way to eat a mango.


    Isolation is the greatest fear in war. The military historian S.L.A. Marshall conducted intensive studies of combat incidents during World War II and Korea and discovered that at most, only 25 percent of the men who were under fire actually fired their own weapons. The rest cowered behind cover, terrified and helpless--all systems off. Invariably, those men had felt alone, and to feel alone in combat is to cease to function; it is the terrifying prelude to the final loneliness of death. The only men who kept their heads felt connected to other men, a part of something, as if comradeship were some sort of collective life-force, the power to face death and stay conscious. But when those men came home from war, that fear of isolation stayed with many of them, a tiny mustard seed fallen on fertile soil.

    When I came back from Vietnam I tried to keep up with my buddies. We wrote letters, made plans to meet, but something always came up and we never seemed to get together. For a few years we exchanged Christmas cards, then nothing. The special world that had sustained our intense comdradeship was gone. Everyday life--our work, family, friends, reclaimed us, and we grew up.

    But there was something not right about that. In Vietnam I had been closer to Hiers, for example, than to anyone before or since. We were connected by the radio; our lives depended on it, and on each other. We ate, slept, laughed, and were terrified together. When I first arrived in Vietnam I tried to get Hiers to salute me, but he simply wouldn't do it, mustering at most a "Howdy, Lieutenant, how's it hanging?" as we passed. For every time that he didn't salute I told him he would have to fill a hundred sandbags.

    We'd reached several thousand sandbags when Hiers took me aside and said, "Look, Lieutenant, I'll be happy to salute you, really. But if I get in the habit back here in the rear I may salute you when we're out in the bush. And those gooks are just waiting for us to salute, tell 'em who the lieutenant is. You'd be the first one blown away." We forgot the sandbags--and the salutes. Months later, when Hiers left the platoon to go home, he turned to me as I stood on our hilltop position, and gave me the smartest salute I'd ever seen. I shot him the finger, and that was the last I saw of him for fifteen years. When we met by accident at the Vietnam memorial it was like a sign; enough time has passed--we were old enough to say goodbye to who we had been and become friends as who we had become.

    For us and for thousands of veterans the memorial was special ground. War is theater, and Vietnam had been fought without a third act. It was a set that hadn't been struck; its characters were lost there, with no way to get off and no more lines to say. And so when we came to the Vietnam memorial in Washington we wrote our own endings as we stared at the names on the wall, reached out and touched them, washed them with our tears, said goodbye. We are older now, some of us grandfathers, some quite successful, but the memorial touched some part of us that is still out there, under fire, alone. When we came to that wall and met the memories of our buddies and gave them their due, pulled them up from their buried places and laid our love to rest, we were home at last.

    For all these reasons, men love war. But these are the easy reasons, the first circle, the ones we can talk about without risk of disapproval, without plunging too far into the truth or ourselves. But there are other, more troubling reasons why men love war. The love of war stems from the union, deep in the core of our being, between sex and destruction, beauty and horror, love and death. War may be the only way in which most men touch the mythic domains in our soul. It is, for men, at some terrible level the closest thing to what childbirth is for women: the initiation into the power of life and death. It is like lifting off the corner of the universe and looking at what's underneath. To see war is to see into the dark heart of things, that no-man's-land between life and death, or even beyond.

    And that explains a central fact about the stories men tell about war. Every good war story is, in at least some of its crucial elements, false. The better the war story, the less of it is likely to be true. Robert Graves wrote that his main legacy from World War I was "a difficulty in telling the truth." I have never once heard a grunt tell a reporter a war story that wasn't a lie, just as some of the stories that I tell about the war are lies. Not that even the lies aren't true, on a certain level. They have a moral, even a mythic, truth, rather than a literal one. They reach out and remind the tellers and listeners of their place in the world. They are the primitive stories told around the fire in smoky teepees after the pipe has been passed. They are all, at bottom, the same.

    Some of the best war stories out of Vietnam are in Michael Herr's Dispatches. One of Herr's most quoted stories goes like this: "But what a story he told me, as one-pointed and resonant as any war story I ever heard, it took me a year to understand it:

    "Patrol went up the mountain. One man came back. He died before he could tell us what happened."

    "I waited for the rest, but it seemed not to be that kind of story; when I asked him what had happened he just looked like he felt sorry for me, ****ed if he'd waste time telling stories to anyone as dumb as I was."

    It is a great story, a combat haiku, all negative space and darkness humming with portent. It seems rich, unique to Vietnam. But listen, now, to this:

    "We all went up to Gettysburg, the summer of '63: and some of us came back from there: and that's all except the details." That is the account of Gettysburg by one Praxiteles Swan, onetime captain in the Confederate States Army. The language is different, but it is the same story. And it is a story that I would imagine has been told for as long as men have gone to war. Its purpose is not to enlighten but to exclude; its message is not its content but putting the listener in his place. I suffered, I was there. You were not. Only those facts matter. Everything else is beyond words to tell. As was said after the worst tragedies in Vietnam: "Don't mean nothin'." Which meant, "It means everything, it means too much." Language overload.

    War stories inhabit the realm of myth because every war story is about death. And one of the most troubling reasons men love war is the love of destruction, the thrill of killing. In his superb book on World War II, The Warriors, J. Glenn Gray wrote that "thousands of youths who never suspected the presence of such an impulse in themselves have learned in military life the mad excitement of destroying." It's what Hemingway meant when he wrote, "Admit that you have liked to kill as all who are soldiers by choice have enjoyed it at some time whether they lie about it or not."

    My platoon and I went through Vietnam burning hooches (note how language liberated us--we didn't burn houses and shoot people; we burned hooches and shot gooks), killing dogs and pigs and chickens, destroying, because, as my friend Hiers put it, "We thought it was fun at the time." As anyone who has fired a bazooka or an M-60 machine gun knows, there is something to that power in your finger, the soft, seductive touch of the trigger. It's like the magic sword, a grunt's Excalibur: all you do is move that finger so imperceptibly, just a wish flashing across your mind like a shadow, not even a full brain synapse, and poof! in a blast of sound and energy and light a truck or a house or even people disappear, everything flying and settling back into dust.

    There is a connection between this thrill and the games we played as children, the endless games of cowboys and Indians and war, the games that ended with "Bang bang you're dead," and everyone who was "dead" got up and began another game. That's war as fantasy, and it's the same emotion that touches us in war movies and books, where death is something without consequence, and not something that ends with terrible finality as blood from our fatally fragile bodies flows out onto the mud. Boys aren't the only ones prone to this fantasy; it possesses the old men who have never been to war and who preside over our burials with the same tears they shed when soldiers die in the movies--tears of fantasy, cheap tears. The love of destruction and killing in war stems from that fantasy of war as a game, but it is the more seductive for being indulged at terrible risk. It is the game survivors play, after they have seen death up close and learned in their hearts how common, how ordinary, and how inescapable it is.

    I don't know if I killed anyone in Vietnam, but I tried as hard as I could. I fired at muzzle flashes in the night, threw grenades during ambushes, ordered artillery and bombing where I thought the enemy was. Whenever another platoon got a higher body count, I was disappointed: it was like suiting up for the football game and then not getting to play. After one ambush my men brought back the body of a North Vietnamese soldier. I later found the dead man propped against some C-ration boxes. He had on sunglasses, and a Playboy magazine lay open in his lap; a cigarette dangled jauntily from his mouth, and on his head was perched a large and perfectly formed piece of ****.


    "How are you ever going to go back to the world?" I asked him. (He didn't. A few months later a ten-year-old Vietcong girl blew him up with a command-detonated booby trap.)

    War is a brutal, deadly game, but a game, the best there is. And men love games. You can come back from war broken in mind or body, or not come back at all. But if you come back whole you bring with you the knowledge that you have explored regions of your soul that in most men will always remain uncharted. Nothing I had ever studied was as complex or as creative as the small-unit tactics of Vietnam. No sport I had ever played brought me to such deep awareness of my physical and emotional limits.

    One night not long after I had arrived in Vietnam, one of my platoon's observation posts heard enemy movement. I immediately lost all saliva in my mouth. I could not talk; not a sound would pass my lips. My brain erased as if the plug had been pulled--I felt only a dull hum throughout my body, a low-grade current coursing through me like electricity through a power line. After a minute I could at least grunt, which I did as Hiers gave orders to the squad leaders, called in artillery and air support, and threw back the probe. I was terrified, I was ashamed, and I couldn't wait for it to happen again.

    The enduring emotion of war, when everything else has faded, is comradeship. A comrade in war is a man you can trust with anything, because you trust him with your life. "It is," Phillip Caputo wrote in A Rumor of War, "unlike marriage, a bond that cannot be broken by a word, by boredom or divorce, or by anything other than death." Despite its extreme right-wing image, war is the only utopian experience most of us ever have. Individual possessions and advantage count for nothing; the group is everything. What you have is shared with your friends. It isn't a particularly selective process, but a love that needs no reasons, that transcends race and personality and education--all those things that would make a difference in peace. It is, simply, brotherly love.

    What made this love so intense was that it had no limits, not even death. John Wheeler, in Touched with Fire, quotes the Congressional Medal of Honor citation of Hector Santiago-Colon: "Due to the heavy volume of enemy fire and exploding grenades around them, a North Vietnamese soldier was able to crawl, undetected, to their position. Suddenly, the enemy soldier lobbed a hand grenade into Sp4c. Santiago-Colon's foxhole. Realizing that there was no time to throw the grenade out of his position, Sp4c. Santiago-Colon retrieved the grenade, tucked it into his stomach, and, turning away from his comrades, absorbed the full impact of the blast." This is classic heroism, the final evidence of how much comrades can depend on each other. What went through Santiago-Colon's mind for that split second when he could just as easily have dived to safety? It had to be this: my comrades are more important to me than my most valuable possession--my own life.



    Isolation is the greatest fear in war. The military historian S.L.A. Marshall conducted intensive studies of combat incidents during World War II and Korea and discovered that at most, only 25 percent of the men who were under fire actually fired their own weapons. The rest cowered behind cover, terrified and helpless--all systems off. Invariably, those men had felt alone, and to feel alone in combat is to cease to function; it is the terrifying prelude to the final loneliness of death. The only men who kept their heads felt connected to other men, a part of something, as if comradeship were some sort of collective life-force, the power to face death and stay conscious. But when those men came home from war, that fear of isolation stayed with many of them, a tiny mustard seed fallen on fertile soil.

    When I came back from Vietnam I tried to keep up with my buddies. We wrote letters, made plans to meet, but something always came up and we never seemed to get together. For a few years we exchanged Christmas cards, then nothing. The special world that had sustained our intense comdradeship was gone. Everyday life--our work, family, friends, reclaimed us, and we grew up.

    But there was something not right about that. In Vietnam I had been closer to Hiers, for example, than to anyone before or since. We were connected by the radio; our lives depended on it, and on each other. We ate, slept, laughed, and were terrified together. When I first arrived in Vietnam I tried to get Hiers to salute me, but he simply wouldn't do it, mustering at most a "Howdy, Lieutenant, how's it hanging?" as we passed. For every time that he didn't salute I told him he would have to fill a hundred sandbags.

    We'd reached several thousand sandbags when Hiers took me aside and said, "Look, Lieutenant, I'll be happy to salute you, really. But if I get in the habit back here in the rear I may salute you when we're out in the bush. And those gooks are just waiting for us to salute, tell 'em who the lieutenant is. You'd be the first one blown away." We forgot the sandbags--and the salutes. Months later, when Hiers left the platoon to go home, he turned to me as I stood on our hilltop position, and gave me the smartest salute I'd ever seen. I shot him the finger, and that was the last I saw of him for fifteen years. When we met by accident at the Vietnam memorial it was like a sign; enough time has passed--we were old enough to say goodbye to who we had been and become friends as who we had become.

    For us and for thousands of veterans the memorial was special ground. War is theater, and Vietnam had been fought without a third act. It was a set that hadn't been struck; its characters were lost there, with no way to get off and no more lines to say. And so when we came to the Vietnam memorial in Washington we wrote our own endings as we stared at the names on the wall, reached out and touched them, washed them with our tears, said goodbye. We are older now, some of us grandfathers, some quite successful, but the memorial touched some part of us that is still out there, under fire, alone. When we came to that wall and met the memories of our buddies and gave them their due, pulled them up from their buried places and laid our love to rest, we were home at last.

    For all these reasons, men love war. But these are the easy reasons, the first circle, the ones we can talk about without risk of disapproval, without plunging too far into the truth or ourselves. But there are other, more troubling reasons why men love war. The love of war stems from the union, deep in the core of our being, between sex and destruction, beauty and horror, love and death. War may be the only way in which most men touch the mythic domains in our soul. It is, for men, at some terrible level the closest thing to what childbirth is for women: the initiation into the power of life and death. It is like lifting off the corner of the universe and looking at what's underneath. To see war is to see into the dark heart of things, that no-man's-land between life and death, or even beyond.

    And that explains a central fact about the stories men tell about war. Every good war story is, in at least some of its crucial elements, false. The better the war story, the less of it is likely to be true. Robert Graves wrote that his main legacy from World War I was "a difficulty in telling the truth." I have never once heard a grunt tell a reporter a war story that wasn't a lie, just as some of the stories that I tell about the war are lies. Not that even the lies aren't true, on a certain level. They have a moral, even a mythic, truth, rather than a literal one. They reach out and remind the tellers and listeners of their place in the world. They are the primitive stories told around the fire in smoky teepees after the pipe has been passed. They are all, at bottom, the same.

    Some of the best war stories out of Vietnam are in Michael Herr's Dispatches. One of Herr's most quoted stories goes like this: "But what a story he told me, as one-pointed and resonant as any war story I ever heard, it took me a year to understand it:

    "Patrol went up the mountain. One man came back. He died before he could tell us what happened."

    "I waited for the rest, but it seemed not to be that kind of story; when I asked him what had happened he just looked like he felt sorry for me, ****ed if he'd waste time telling stories to anyone as dumb as I was."

    It is a great story, a combat haiku, all negative space and darkness humming with portent. It seems rich, unique to Vietnam. But listen, now, to this:

    "We all went up to Gettysburg, the summer of '63: and some of us came back from there: and that's all except the details." That is the account of Gettysburg by one Praxiteles Swan, onetime captain in the Confederate States Army. The language is different, but it is the same story. And it is a story that I would imagine has been told for as long as men have gone to war. Its purpose is not to enlighten but to exclude; its message is not its content but putting the listener in his place. I suffered, I was there. You were not. Only those facts matter. Everything else is beyond words to tell. As was said after the worst tragedies in Vietnam: "Don't mean nothin'." Which meant, "It means everything, it means too much." Language overload.

    War stories inhabit the realm of myth because every war story is about death. And one of the most troubling reasons men love war is the love of destruction, the thrill of killing. In his superb book on World War II, The Warriors, J. Glenn Gray wrote that "thousands of youths who never suspected the presence of such an impulse in themselves have learned in military life the mad excitement of destroying." It's what Hemingway meant when he wrote, "Admit that you have liked to kill as all who are soldiers by choice have enjoyed it at some time whether they lie about it or not."

    My platoon and I went through Vietnam burning hooches (note how language liberated us--we didn't burn houses and shoot people; we burned hooches and shot gooks), killing dogs and pigs and chickens, destroying, because, as my friend Hiers put it, "We thought it was fun at the time." As anyone who has fired a bazooka or an M-60 machine gun knows, there is something to that power in your finger, the soft, seductive touch of the trigger. It's like the magic sword, a grunt's Excalibur: all you do is move that finger so imperceptibly, just a wish flashing across your mind like a shadow, not even a full brain synapse, and poof! in a blast of sound and energy and light a truck or a house or even people disappear, everything flying and settling back into dust.

    There is a connection between this thrill and the games we played as children, the endless games of cowboys and Indians and war, the games that ended with "Bang bang you're dead," and everyone who was "dead" got up and began another game. That's war as fantasy, and it's the same emotion that touches us in war movies and books, where death is something without consequence, and not something that ends with terrible finality as blood from our fatally fragile bodies flows out onto the mud. Boys aren't the only ones prone to this fantasy; it possesses the old men who have never been to war and who preside over our burials with the same tears they shed when soldiers die in the movies--tears of fantasy, cheap tears. The love of destruction and killing in war stems from that fantasy of war as a game, but it is the more seductive for being indulged at terrible risk. It is the game survivors play, after they have seen death up close and learned in their hearts how common, how ordinary, and how inescapable it is.

    I don't know if I killed anyone in Vietnam, but I tried as hard as I could. I fired at muzzle flashes in the night, threw grenades during ambushes, ordered artillery and bombing where I thought the enemy was. Whenever another platoon got a higher body count, I was disappointed: it was like suiting up for the football game and then not getting to play. After one ambush my men brought back the body of a North Vietnamese soldier. I later found the dead man propped against some C-ration boxes. He had on sunglasses, and a Playboy magazine lay open in his lap; a cigarette dangled jauntily from his mouth, and on his head was perched a large and perfectly formed piece of ****.


    I pretended to be outraged, since desecrating bodies was frowned on as un-American and counterproductive. But it wasn't outrage I felt. I kept my officer's face on, but inside I was . . . laughing. I laughed--I believe now--in part because of some subconscious appreciation of this obscene linkage of sex and excrement and death; and in part because of the exultant realization that he--whoever he had been--was dead and I--special, unique me--was alive. He was my brother, but I knew him not. In war the line between life and death is gossamer thin; there is joy, true joy, in being alive when so many around you are not. And from the joy of being alive in death's presence to the joy of causing death is, unfortunately, not that great a step.

    A lieutenant colonel I knew, a true intellectual, was put in charge of civil affairs, the work we did helping the Vietnamese grow rice and otherwise improve their lives. He was a sensitive man who kept a journal and seemed far better equipped for winning hearts and minds than for a combat command. But he got one, and I remember flying out to visit his fire base the night after it had been attacked by an NVA sapper unit. Most of the combat troops had been out on an operation, so this colonel mustered a motley crew of clerks and cooks and drove the sappers off, chasing them across the rice paddies and killing dozens of these elite enemy troops by the light of flares. That morning, as they were surveying what they had done and loading the dead NVA--all naked and covered with grease and mud so they could penetrate the barbed wire--on mechanical mules like so much garbage, there was a look of beatific contentment on the colonel's face that I had not seen except in charismatic churches. It was the look of a person transported into ecstasy.

    And I--what did I do, confronted with this beastly scene? I smiled back, as filled with bliss as he was. That was another of the times I stood on the edge of my humanity, looked into the pit, and loved what I saw there. I had surrendered to an aesthetic that was divorced from the crucial quality of empathy that lets us feel the sufferings of others. And I saw a terrible beauty there. War is not simply the spirit of ugliness, although it is certainly that, the devil's work. But to give the devil his due, it is also an affair of great and seductive beauty.

    Art and war were for ages as linked as art and religion. Medieval and Renaissance artists gave us cathedrals, but they also gave us armor, sculptures of war, swords and muskets and cannons of great beauty, art offered to the god of war as reverently as the carved altars were offered to the god of love. War was a public ritual of the highest order, as the beautifully decorated cannons in the Invalides in Paris and the chariots with their depictions of the gods in the Metropolitan Museum of Art so eloquently attest. Men love their weapons, not simply for helping to keep them alive, but for a deeper reason. They love their rifles and their knives for the same reason that the medieval warriors loved their armor and their swords: they are instruments of beauty.

    War is beautiful. There is something about a firefight at night, something about the mechanical elegance of an M-60 machine gun. They are everything they should be, perfect examples of their form. When you are firing out at night, the red tracers go out into the blackness as if you were drawing with a light pen. Then little dots of light start winking back, and green tracers from the AK-47s begin to weave in with the red to form brilliant patterns that seem, given their great speeds, oddly timeless, as if they had been etched on the night. And then perhaps the gunships called Spooky come in and fire their incredible guns like huge hoses washing down from the sky, like something God would do when He was really ticked off. And then the flares pop, casting eerie shadows as they float down on their little parachutes, swinging in the breeze, and anyone who moves in their light seems a ghost escaped from hell.

    Daytime offers nothing so spectacular, but it also has its charms. Many men loved napalm, loved its silent power, the way it could make tree lines or houses explode as if by spontaneous combustion. But I always thought napalm was greatly overrated, unless you enjoy watching tires burn. I preferred white phosphorus, which exploded with a fulsome elegance, wreathing its target in intense and billowing white smoke, throwing out glowing red comets trailing brilliant white plumes. I loved it more--not less--because of its function: to destroy, to kill. The seduction of war is in its offering such intense beauty--divorced from all civilized values, but beauty still.

    Most men who have been to war, and most women who have been around it, remember that never in their lives did they have so heightened a sexuality. War is, in short, a turn-on. War cloaks men in a costume that conceals the limits and inadequacies of their separate natures. It gives them an aura, a collective power, an almost animal force. They aren't just Billy or Johnny or Bobby, they are soldiers! But there's a price for all that: the agonizing loneliness of war, the way a soldier is cut off from everything that defines him as an individual--he is the true rootless man. The uniform did that, too, and all that heightened sexuality is not much solace late at night when the emptiness comes.

    There were many men for whom this condition led to great decisions. I knew a Marine in Vietnam who was a great rarity, an Ivy League graduate. He also had an Ivy League wife, but he managed to fall in love with a Vietnamese bar girl who could barely speak English. She was not particularly attractive, a peasant girl trying to support her family. He spent all his time with her, he fell in love with her--awkwardly, formally, but totally. At the end of his twelve months in Vietnam he went home, divorced his beautiful, intelligent, and socially correct wife, and then went back to Vietnam and proposed to the bar girl, who accepted. It was a marriage across a vast divide of language, culture, race, and class that could only have been made in war. I am not sure that it lasted, but it would not surprise me if, despite great difficulties, it did.

    Of course, for every such story there are hundreds, thousands, of stories of passing contacts, a man and a woman holding each other tight for one moment, finding in sex some escape from the terrible reality of the war. The intensity that war brings to sex, the "let us love now because there may be no tomorrow," is based on death. No matter what our weapons on the battlefield, love is finally our only weapon against death. Sex is the weapon of life, the shooting sperm sent like an army of guerrillas to penetrate the egg's defenses--the only victory that really matters. War thrusts you into the well of loneliness, death breathing in your ear. Sex is a grappling hook that pulls you out, ends your isolation, makes you one with life again.

    Not that such thoughts were anywhere near conscious. I remember going off to war with a copy of War and Peace and The Charterhouse of Parma stuffed into my pack. They were soon replaced with The Story of O. War heightens all appetites. I cannot describe the ache for candy, for taste; I wanted a Mars bar more than I had wanted anything in my life. And that hunger paled beside the force that pushed us toward women, any women; women we would not even have looked at in peace floated into our fantasies and lodged there. Too often we made our fantasies real, always to be disappointed, our hunger only greater. The ugliest prostitutes specialized in group affairs, passed among several men or even whole squads, in communion almost, a sharing more then sexual. In sex even more than in killing I could see the beast, crouched drooling on its haunches, could see it mocking me for my frailties, knowing I hated myself for them but that I could not get enough, that I would keep coming back again and again.

    After I ended my tour in combat I came back to work at division headquarters and volunteered one night a week teaching English to Vietnamese adults. One of my students was a beautiful girl whose parents had been killed in Hue during the Tet Offensive of 1968. She had fallen in love with an American civilian who worked at the consulate in Da Nang. He had left for his next duty station and promised he would send for her. She never heard from him again. She had a seductive sadness about her. I found myself seeing her after class, then I was sneaking into the motor pool and commandeering a deuce-and-half truck and driving into Da Nang at night to visit her. She lived in a small house near the consulate with her grandparents and brothers and sisters. It had one room divided by a curtain. When I arrived, the rest of the family would retire behind the curtain. Amid their hushed voices and the smells of cooking oil and rotted fish we would talk and fumble toward each other, my need greater then hers.

    I wanted her desperately. But her tenderness and vulnerability, the torn flower of her beauty, frustrated my death-obsessed lust. I didn't see her as one Vietnamese, I saw her as all Vietnamese. She was the suffering soul of war, and I was the soldier who had wounded it but would make it whole. My loneliness was pulling me into the same strong current that had swallowed my friend who married the bar girl. I could see it happening, but I seemed powerless to stop it. I wrote her long poems, made inquires about staying on in Da Nang, built a fantasy future for the two of us. I wasn't going to betray her the way the other American had, the way all Americans had, the way all men betrayed the women who helped them through the war. I wasn't like that. But then I received orders sending me home two weeks early. I drove into Da Nang to talk to her, and to make definite plans. Halfway there, I turned back.

    At the airport I threw the poems into a trash can. When the wheels of the plane lifted off the soil of Vietnam, I cheered like everyone else. And as I pressed my face against the window and watched Vietnam shrink to a distant green blur and finally disappear, I felt sad and guilty--for her, for my comrades who had been killed and wounded, for everything. But that feeling was overwhelmed by my vast sense of relief. I had survived. And I was going home. I would be myself again, or so I thought.

    But some fifteen years later she and the war are still on my mind, all those memories, each with its secret passages and cutbacks, hundreds of labyrinths, all leading back to a truth not safe but essential. It is about why we can love and hate, why we can bring forth life and snuff it out, why each of us is a battleground where good and evil are always at war for our souls.

    The power of war, like the power of love, springs from man's heart. The one yields death, the other life. But life without death has no meaning; nor, at its deepest level, does love without war. Without war we could not know from what depths love rises, or what power it must have to overcome such evil and redeem us. It is no accident that men love war, as love and war are at the core of man. It is not only that we must love one another or die. We must love one another and die. War, like death, is always with us, a constant companion, a secret sharer. To deny its seduction, to overcome death, our love for peace, for life itself, must be greater than we think possible, greater even than we can imagine.

    Hiers and I were skiing down a mountain in Vermont, flying effortlessly over a world cloaked in white, beautiful, innocent, peaceful. On the ski lift up we had been talking about a different world, hot, green, smelling of decay and death, where each step out of the mud took all our strength. We stopped and looked back, the air pure and cold, our breath coming in puffs of vapor. Our children were following us down the hill, bent over, little balls of life racing on the edge of danger.

    Hiers turned to me with a smile and said, "It's a long way from Nam, isn't it?"

    Yes.

    And no.
     
  2. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Will wonders never cease, two posts in two days on this thread :)

    Jonah Goldberg writes:

    This reminds me of a story Kevin Williamson tells in his book.

    There is a lovely apocryphal story, generally told about Dwight D. Eisenhower during his time as president of Columbia University: The school was growing, necessitating an expansion of the campus, which produced a very hot dispute between two groups of planners and architects about where the sidewalks should go. One camp insisted that it was obvious -- self-evident! -- that the sidewalks had to be arranged thus, as any rational person could see, while the other camp argued for something very different, with the same appeals to obviously, self-evident, rational evidence. Legend has it that Eisenhower solved the problem by ordering that the sidewalks not be laid down at all for a year: The students would trample paths in the grass, and the builders would then pave over where the students were actually walking. Neither of the plans that had been advocated matched what the students actually did when left to their own devices. There are two radically different ways of looking at the world embedded in that story: Are our institutions here to tell us where to go, or are they here to help smooth the way for us as we pursue our own ends, going our own ways?
     
  3. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    [h=5]Woof All:

    Epitaphs: What would you like on your tombstone?

    I rather like this one:

    From an interview with actor Peter O'Toole, who died Saturday, on TCM Word of Mouth, December 2008:

    "Many years ago I sent an old, beloved jacket to a cleaner, the Sycamore Cleaners. It was a leather jacket covered in Guinness and blood and marmalade, one of those jobs . . . and it came back with a little note pinned to it, and on the note it said, "It distresses us to return work which is not perfect." So that will do for me. That can go on my tombstone."

    If I were to have one, (I want to be cremated) it would be "The Adventure continues!"

    CD[/h]
     
  4. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

  5. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Once upon a time there was a man who worked very hard just to keep food on the table for his family.

    This particular year a few days before Christmas he punished his little five-year old daughter after learning that she had used up the family’s only roll of expensive gold wrapping paper.

    As money was tight, he became even more upset when on Christmas Eve he saw that the child had used all the expensive gold paper to decorate one shoebox she had put under the Christmas tree. He also was concerned about where she had gotten the money to buy what was in the shoebox.

    Nevertheless, the next morning the little girl, filled with excitement, brought the gift box to her father and said, “This is for you, Daddy!”

    As he opened the box, the father was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, now regretting how he had punished her. But when he opened the shoebox, he found it was empty and again his anger flared. “Don’t you know, young lady,” he said harshly, “when you give someone a present, there is supposed to be something inside the package!”

    The little girl looked up at him with sad tears rolling from her eyes and whispered: “Daddy, it’s not empty. I blew kisses until it was full.”

    The father was crushed. He fell on his knees and put his arms around his precious little girl. He begged her to forgive him for his unnecessary anger.

    An accident took the life of the child only a short time later. It is told that the father kept this little gold box by his bed for all the years of his life. Whenever he was discouraged or faced difficult problems, he would open the box, take out an imaginary kiss, and remember the love of this beautiful child who had put it there.

    In a very real sense, each of us has been given an invisible golden box filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, family, friends, and God. There is no more precious possession anyone could hold.
     
  6. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Many of us do MMA, BJJ and other things which bring us in to close proximity to other people in a way that is ideal for transmission of infections. There are several posts in this thread http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1148.50 regarding the developing of drug resistant bacteria.

    At the very least, be considerate of others. You are NOT heroic when you go to train when you are sick. You are an anus. Similarly feel free to tell sick people to go home until they are well again.
     
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    Crafty Dog Active Member

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    Crafty Dog Active Member

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    Crafty Dog Active Member

  14. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    From 2010:
    That is the Mystery of It (c) 2010
    Guro Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny


    I used to look at the holiday season as a collective madness wherein at the same time every year most people went on a frenzy of spending and consuming in which killing lots of pine trees played an important role. Gyms had shortened hours or even were closed on some days. I mean, what if the 25th was squat day?!?


    Now, many years later I have come to realize that I was peeing into the wind; that from Thanksgiving to the first week of January is a time for hibernation and recharging-of Mind, Body, and Spirit.


    BODY

    For me spring throught fall this year involved quite a bit of heavy physical training, teaching and travel-- including some trips with major time zone changes. I pushed hard and progressed well, and now it is time for my training to focus on recharging and laying the foundations for future growth.

    After several months away from it, I've returned to the site of my rucking training at Bluff Cove, only now I do it un-weighted for forty minutes for speed in my Vibram five-fingered "barefooting" shoes instead in boots with a fifty pound weight vest for three hours. There's been lots of work re-opening hips and re-establishing alignment and core strength (long, international flights in steerage class don't help!), re-establishing aerobic levels, a squat cycle of one day a week with another day a week of sprints and football/lacrosse type agility, and so forth. Today Cindy and I started a Bikram Yoga class together. (Bikram is done in a room heated to over one hundred degrees-how utterly perfect for a season of hibernation!)


    MIND

    I usually do my squat routine at a gym on the beach in Hermosa Beach called "The Yard". Last week when I was there we were in the midst of several summer-like days in the mid-eighties. The Hermosa Beach pier is but a block and a half away and so I walked to its end. With the warmth of the sun on my skin, good waves for the surfers, and a school of nervous mackerel made skittish by a couple of dolphins, the feng shui was quite nice.

    I sat there a while shirtless in the warm glow of the afternoon sun and entered the altered space. As we get older, we begin to notice how where we are is a result of what we have done with where we have been. So, how on earth did I get to where I am? Tis a mystery to me! As the line in a Grateful Dead song says "What a long strange trip it has been!"


    SPIRIT

    Often we seek simultaneously to become both more purposeful in how we live and more humble about thinking that we know what we are doing. In my humble opinion, whether we realize it or not, ultimately for all our plotting and planning there comes the time to put our Word to something and, as Juan Matus would say, to "act with abandon"... and turn it all over to our Creator. Vaguely remembering a line from a movie, "Things will work out. We may not know how-that's the mystery of it."
     
  15. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

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    Crafty Dog Active Member

    http://www.liberty-page.com/foundingdocs/americancrisis/1.html


    The Crisis Number I
    by Thomas Paine
    Founding Documents > The Crisis Papers >





    I.


    THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to tax) but "to bind us in all cases whatsoever," and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.
    Whether the independence of the continent was declared too soon, or delayed too long, I will not now enter into as an argument; my own simple opinion is, that had it been eight months earlier, it would have been much better. We did not make a proper use of last winter, neither could we, while we were in a dependent state. However, the fault, if it were one, was all our own*; we have none to blame but ourselves. But no great deal is lost yet. All that Howe has been doing for this month past, is rather a ravage than a conquest, which the spirit of the Jerseys, a year ago, would have quickly repulsed, and which time and a little resolution will soon recover.


    * The present winter is worth an age, if rightly employed; but, if lost or neglected, the whole continent will partake of the evil; and there is no punishment that man does not deserve, be he who, or what, or where he will, that may be the means of sacrificing a season so precious and useful.
    I have as little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupportedly to perish, who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by every decent method which wisdom could invent. Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that He has relinquished the government of the world, and given us up to the care of devils; and as I do not, I cannot see on what grounds the king of Britain can look up to heaven for help against us: a common murderer, a highwayman, or a house-breaker, has as good a pretence as he.
    'Tis surprising to see how rapidly a panic will sometimes run through a country. All nations and ages have been subject to them. Britain has trembled like an ague at the report of a French fleet of flat-bottomed boats; and in the fourteenth [fifteenth] century the whole English army, after ravaging the kingdom of France, was driven back like men petrified with fear; and this brave exploit was performed by a few broken forces collected and headed by a woman, Joan of Arc. Would that heaven might inspire some Jersey maid to spirit up her countrymen, and save her fair fellow sufferers from ravage and ravishment! Yet panics, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is always short; the mind soon grows through them, and acquires a firmer habit than before. But their peculiar advantage is, that they are the touchstones of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered. In fact, they have the same effect on secret traitors, which an imaginary apparition would have upon a private murderer. They sift out the hidden thoughts of man, and hold them up in public to the world. Many a disguised Tory has lately shown his head, that shall penitentially solemnize with curses the day on which Howe arrived upon the Delaware.

    As I was with the troops at Fort Lee, and marched with them to the edge of Pennsylvania, I am well acquainted with many circumstances, which those who live at a distance know but little or nothing of. Our situation there was exceedingly cramped, the place being a narrow neck of land between the North River and the Hackensack. Our force was inconsiderable, being not one-fourth so great as Howe could bring against us. We had no army at hand to have relieved the garrison, had we shut ourselves up and stood on our defence. Our ammunition, light artillery, and the best part of our stores, had been removed, on the apprehension that Howe would endeavor to penetrate the Jerseys, in which case Fort Lee could be of no use to us; for it must occur to every thinking man, whether in the army or not, that these kind of field forts are only for temporary purposes, and last in use no longer than the enemy directs his force against the particular object which such forts are raised to defend. Such was our situation and condition at Fort Lee on the morning of the 20th of November, when an officer arrived with information that the enemy with 200 boats had landed about seven miles above; Major General [Nathaniel] Green, who commanded the garrison, immediately ordered them under arms, and sent express to General Washington at the town of Hackensack, distant by the way of the ferry = six miles. Our first object was to secure the bridge over the Hackensack, which laid up the river between the enemy and us, about six miles from us, and three from them. General Washington arrived in about three-quarters of an hour, and marched at the head of the troops towards the bridge, which place I expected we should have a brush for; however, they did not choose to dispute it with us, and the greatest part of our troops went over the bridge, the rest over the ferry, except some which passed at a mill on a small creek, between the bridge and the ferry, and made their way through some marshy grounds up to the town of Hackensack, and there passed the river. We brought off as much baggage as the wagons could contain, the rest was lost. The simple object was to bring off the garrison, and march them on till they could be strengthened by the Jersey or Pennsylvania militia, so as to be enabled to make a stand. We staid four days at Newark, collected our out-posts with some of the Jersey militia, and marched out twice to meet the enemy, on being informed that they were advancing, though our numbers were greatly inferior to theirs. Howe, in my little opinion, committed a great error in generalship in not throwing a body of forces off from Staten Island through Amboy, by which means he might have seized all our stores at Brunswick, and intercepted our march into Pennsylvania; but if we believe the power of hell to be limited, we must likewise believe that their agents are under some providential control.

    I shall not now attempt to give all the particulars of our retreat to the Delaware; suffice it for the present to say, that both officers and men, though greatly harassed and fatigued, frequently without rest, covering, or provision, the inevitable consequences of a long retreat, bore it with a manly and martial spirit. All their wishes were one, which was, that the country would turn out and help them to drive the enemy back. Voltaire has remarked that King William never appeared to full advantage but in difficulties and in action; the same remark may be made on General Washington, for the character fits him. There is a natural firmness in some minds which cannot be unlocked by trifles, but which, when unlocked, discovers a cabinet of fortitude; and I reckon it among those kind of public blessings, which we do not immediately see, that God hath blessed him with uninterrupted health, and given him a mind that can even flourish upon care.

    I shall conclude this paper with some miscellaneous remarks on the state of our affairs; and shall begin with asking the following question, Why is it that the enemy have left the New England provinces, and made these middle ones the seat of war? The answer is easy: New England is not infested with Tories, and we are. I have been tender in raising the cry against these men, and used numberless arguments to show them their danger, but it will not do to sacrifice a world either to their folly or their baseness. The period is now arrived, in which either they or we must change our sentiments, or one or both must fall. And what is a Tory? Good God! what is he? I should not be afraid to go with a hundred Whigs against a thousand Tories, were they to attempt to get into arms. Every Tory is a coward; for servile, slavish, self-interested fear is the foundation of Toryism; and a man under such influence, though he may be cruel, never can be brave.

    BUT, before the line of irrecoverable separation be drawn between us, let us reason the matter together: Your conduct is an invitation to the enemy, yet not one in a thousand of you has heart enough to join him. Howe is as much deceived by you as the American cause is injured by you. He expects you will all take up arms, and flock to his standard, with muskets on your shoulders. Your opinions are of no use to him, unless you support him personally, for 'tis soldiers, and not Tories, that he wants.

    I once felt all that kind of anger, which a man ought to feel, against the mean principles that are held by the Tories: a noted one, who kept a tavern at Amboy, was standing at his door, with as pretty a child in his hand, about eight or nine years old, as I ever saw, and after speaking his mind as freely as he thought was prudent, finished with this unfatherly expression, "Well! give me peace in my day." Not a man lives on the continent but fully believes that a separation must some time or other finally take place, and a generous parent should have said, "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace;" and this single reflection, well applied, is sufficient to awaken every man to duty. Not a place upon earth might be so happy as America. Her situation is remote from all the wrangling world, and she has nothing to do but to trade with them. A man can distinguish himself between temper and principle, and I am as confident, as I am that God governs the world, that America will never be happy till she gets clear of foreign dominion. Wars, without ceasing, will break out till that period arrives, and the continent must in the end be conqueror; for though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can never expire.

    AMERICA did not, nor does not want force; but she wanted a proper application of that force. Wisdom is not the purchase of a day, and it is no wonder that we should err at the first setting off. From an excess of tenderness, we were unwilling to raise an army, and trusted our cause to the temporary defence of a well-meaning militia. A summer's experience has now taught us better; yet with those troops, while they were collected, we were able to set bounds to the progress of the enemy, and, thank God! they are again assembling. I always considered militia as the best troops in the world for a sudden exertion, but they will not do for a long campaign. Howe, it is probable, will make an attempt on this city [Philadelphia]; should he fail on this side the Delaware, he is ruined. If he succeeds, our cause is not ruined. He stakes all on his side against a part on ours; admitting he succeeds, the consequence will be, that armies from both ends of the continent will march to assist their suffering friends in the middle states; for he cannot go everywhere, it is impossible. I consider Howe as the greatest enemy the Tories have; he is bringing a war into their country, which, had it not been for him and partly for themselves, they had been clear of. Should he now be expelled, I wish with all the devotion of a Christian, that the names of Whig and Tory may never more be mentioned; but should the Tories give him encouragement to come, or assistance if he come, I as sincerely wish that our next year's arms may expel them from the continent, and the Congress appropriate their possessions to the relief of those who have suffered in well-doing. A single successful battle next year will settle the whole. America could carry on a two years' war by the confiscation of the property of disaffected persons, and be made happy by their expulsion. Say not that this is revenge, call it rather the soft resentment of a suffering people, who, having no object in view but the good of all, have staked their own all upon a seemingly doubtful event. Yet it is folly to argue against determined hardness; eloquence may strike the ear, and the language of sorrow draw forth the tear of compassion, but nothing can reach the heart that is steeled with prejudice.

    QUITTING this class of men, I turn with the warm ardor of a friend to those who have nobly stood, and are yet determined to stand the matter out: I call not upon a few, but upon all: not on this state or that state, but on every state: up and help us; lay your shoulders to the wheel; better have too much force than too little, when so great an object is at stake. Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet and to repulse it. Say not that thousands are gone, turn out your tens of thousands; throw not the burden of the day upon Providence, but "show your faith by your works," that God may bless you. It matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach you all. The far and the near, the home counties and the back, the rich and the poor, will suffer or rejoice alike. The heart that feels not now is dead; the blood of his children will curse his cowardice, who shrinks back at a time when a little might have saved the whole, and made them happy. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death. My own line of reasoning is to myself as straight and clear as a ray of light. Not all the treasures of the world, so far as I believe, could have induced me to support an offensive war, for I think it murder; but if a thief breaks into my house, burns and destroys my property, and kills or threatens to kill me, or those that are in it, and to "bind me in all cases whatsoever" to his absolute will, am I to suffer it? What signifies it to me, whether he who does it is a king or a common man; my countryman or not my countryman; whether it be done by an individual villain, or an army of them? If we reason to the root of things we shall find no difference; neither can any just cause be assigned why we should punish in the one case and pardon in the other. Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man. I conceive likewise a horrid idea in receiving mercy from a being, who at the last day shall be shrieking to the rocks and mountains to cover him, and fleeing with terror from the orphan, the widow, and the slain of America.

    THERE are cases which cannot be overdone by language, and this is one. There are persons, too, who see not the full extent of the evil which threatens them; they solace themselves with hopes that the enemy, if he succeed, will be merciful. It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war; the cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf, and we ought to guard equally against both. Howe's first object is, partly by threats and partly by promises, to terrify or seduce the people to deliver up their arms and receive mercy. The ministry recommended the same plan to Gage, and this is what the tories call making their peace, "a peace which passeth all understanding" indeed! A peace which would be the immediate forerunner of a worse ruin than any we have yet thought of. Ye men of Pennsylvania, do reason upon these things! Were the back counties to give up their arms, they would fall an easy prey to the Indians, who are all armed: this perhaps is what some Tories would not be sorry for. Were the home counties to deliver up their arms, they would be exposed to the resentment of the back counties who would then have it in their power to chastise their defection at pleasure. And were any one state to give up its arms, that state must be garrisoned by all Howe's army of Britons and Hessians to preserve it from the anger of the rest. Mutual fear is the principal link in the chain of mutual love, and woe be to that state that breaks the compact. Howe is mercifully inviting you to barbarous destruction, and men must be either rogues or fools that will not see it. I dwell not upon the vapors of imagination; I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as A, B, C, hold up truth to your eyes.

    I thank God, that I fear not. I see no real cause for fear. I know our situation well, and can see the way out of it. While our army was collected, Howe dared not risk a battle; and it is no credit to him that he decamped from the White Plains, and waited a mean opportunity to ravage the defenceless Jerseys; but it is great credit to us, that, with a handful of men, we sustained an orderly retreat for near an hundred miles, brought off our ammunition, all our field pieces, the greatest part of our stores, and had four rivers to pass. None can say that our retreat was precipitate, for we were near three weeks in performing it, that the country might have time to come in. Twice we marched back to meet the enemy, and remained out till dark. The sign of fear was not seen in our camp, and had not some of the cowardly and disaffected inhabitants spread false alarms through the country, the Jerseys had never been ravaged. Once more we are again collected and collecting; our new army at both ends of the continent is recruiting fast, and we shall be able to open the next campaign with sixty thousand men, well armed and clothed. This is our situation, and who will may know it. By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils- a ravaged country- a depopulated city- habitations without safety, and slavery without hope- our homes turned into barracks and bawdy-houses for Hessians, and a future race to provide for, whose fathers we shall doubt of. Look on this picture and weep over it! and if there yet remains one thoughtless wretch who believes it not, let him suffer it unlamented.

    COMMON SENSE.

    Philadelphia, December 19, 1776.
     
  19. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    "The culture preserving and, consequently, life sustaining function of this mechanism has, however, as a necessary precondition, something similar to a state of equilibrium between the immutability of old traditions and the capacity for adaptability through which throwing overboard certain parts of the traditional inheritance cannot be avoided. A preponderance of that which is conservative causes exactly the same result in the biological development of species as in the development of cultures-- the formation of "living fossils"; an overabundance of variability, on the other hand, causes in both the formation of abnormalities. Examples of such mal-developments in social behavior can be cited the emergence of such phenomena as terrorism and the current popularity of quite inept religious sects. , , , (However) , , , It is an error to believe that after the form and content of an old culture are thrown overboard a new and better, a ready-made one will quite naturally be brought into being to take its place instantaneously. We must seriously confront the sobering fact that there is no purpose oriented pre-determinism of what happens in our world to protect our culture. We must be clearly aware that we humans, ourselves, bear the burden of responsibility for preserving our culture both from erroneous developments and from rigidity."


    Konrad Lorenz
    PS: My son Conrad is named after this man.
     
  20. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    http://patriotpost.us/alexander/35848

    Fathers and Freedom: Irrevocably Linked
    The Fatherless Factor
    By Mark Alexander • June 17, 2015
    “The foundation of national morality must be laid in private families. ... In vain are schools, academies, and universities instituted, if loose principles and licentious habits are impressed upon children in their earliest years.” --John Adams (1778)

    Annually, on the third Sunday in June, millions of Americans of all ages are reminded that they grew up in homes without fathers. Many also recognize that this absence has had a significant influence on every day of their lives.

    For much of history, it was not uncommon for children to have one parent — having lost the other to disease, war or occupations that took them far away from the home. Unfortunately, the United States today ranks high among nations with children growing up in single-parent homes. In the vast majority of these cases, the single parent is the mother, and the absent parent is the biological father who elected to abandon them.

    This elective rejection by fathers, the result of birth to absentee "baby daddies" or divorce, is epidemic. And the consequence of this epidemic for families, and the future of Liberty, is dire.

    The vital role of fathers has been extolled throughout history and in virtually every religion and culture. In 295 B.C., Mencius wrote, "The root of the kingdom is in the state. The root of the state is in the family. The root of the family is in the person of its head."

    When I think of the word "father," tit first invokes my relationship with the person who irrevocably shaped my own life. Dad was always there for my siblings and me, and he was always a devoted husband to my mom. He was a real man, in every sense of the word, a type "A" fighter pilot — and of the most aggressive breed, a naval aviator. He was a competitive entrepreneur in business and a fierce competitor in sports.

    Since he passed along that same "A" gene, we butted heads for most of my formative years. When recalling my early trials with my father, I'm reminded of a great quote attributed to that sagacious humorist, Samuel Langhorne Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain): "When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."

    Like Twain, it took me a few years to figure out that my old man was a good father and a good mentor to boot. Today, I'm so grateful for the steadfast example he set and the love we share for each other.

    "Father" also evokes thoughts about my relationship with our children, and that is precious beyond words — a greater gift I could not imagine. But having failed my own children in some ways, I hope in due time by grace that they will grant their old man forgiveness for those errors.

    "Father" also invokes gratitude for all that is provided by our heavenly Father, as it does the heritage bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers.

    These four contexts for "father" — God the Father, my own earthly father, my role as father to my children, and the legacy of our forefathers — combine to create a rich and abiding sense of what fatherhood really means, how it should look and feel in heart and practice.

    But for tens of millions of American children growing up in fatherless homes, the consequences of that void are enormous. How enormous?
    Considering the wide range of data associated with the fatherless factor, Twain also offered this erudite insight: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

    So when evaluating data from the last two decades associated with the consequences of fatherless homes, I have been careful to rely on only the most reputable professional journals, national research organizations and polling firms. 
Here is accurate data on the consequences for American children without fathers in their homes: About 43% of children live without a father — more than 20 million children — and millions more have fathers who may be physically present but emotionally absent. Forty-four percent of children living in poverty are fatherless. Eighty-five percent have behavior problems, often "diagnosed" as ADHD (or, as I refer to it, PDHD — "Parental Deficit in the Home Disorder"). Children from fatherless homes account for 63% of youth suicides, 90% of all homeless and runaways, 70% of youths in state-operated institutions, 71% of high school dropouts, 75% of adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers and 85% of all youths in prison. Of course, women without husbands and children without fathers are at much greater risk of being victimized.

    Most notably, however, 71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father, which is to say they are perpetuating the misery. And tragically, 72% of black children are born out of wedlock.

    Arguably, the vast majority of social problems confronting our nation today originate in homes without fathers, which would include those without functioning or effective fathers.

    While most fatherless homes are the result of men putting their own interests ahead of their marriage and family, an increasing number of fatherless homes are the result of mothers who separate from fathers because they are unable to establish a healthy marriage bond. In many such cases, the broken trust between a daughter and her father is directly related to the inability of that daughter to, later in life, form a trusting bond necessary for a healthy marriage with her husband.

    Notably, there are young people who were raised by a single parent, or in critically dysfunctional or impoverished homes, but who overcame those enormous obstacles. Either they were blessed with a parent who, against almost insurmountable odds, instilled their children with the values and virtues of good citizenship or, somewhere along the way, those children were lifted out of their misery by the grace of God — often in the form of a significant mentor who modeled individual responsibility and character.
    As a result, they have been empowered to take responsibility for the consequences of their choices and behavior.

    However, the vast majority of those from homes without fathers externalize responsibility for problems and solutions, holding others to blame for their ills, and bestowing upon the state the duty of providing basic needs and, ultimately, of arbitrating proper conduct.

    The failure of fatherhood is more than just a social problem; it is a menacing national security threat. The collective social pathology of the fatherless has dire consequences for the future of Liberty, free enterprise and the survival of our Republic.

    One may rightly conclude that most "liberalism" is rooted in pathology that runs much deeper than topical ideological indoctrination. Indeed, psychopathology dictates and frames worldview, and worldview is manifested in such expressions as political affiliation.

    This pathology manifests in mental rigidity, fear, anger, aggression and insecurity. These are the result of low self-esteem and arrested emotional development associated, predominantly, with fatherless households or critically dysfunctional families in which children were not adequately affirmed. Such individuals harbor contempt for those who are self-sufficient for much the same reason. They believe that conforming to a code of non-conformity is a sign of individualism, when it is nothing more than an extreme form of conformism for those who are truly insecure. Though they feign concern for the less fortunate and the primacy of individual liberty, they are ardent statists.
    They fear loss because most have suffered significant loss. They often come from socially or economically deprived single-parent homes, though inheritance-welfare trust-babies (see Gore, Kerry, the Kennedys, et al.) manifest similar insecurities about helplessness without external sustenance (their trust funds). They reject individual and social responsibility because such principles were not modeled for them as children — and the generational implications for Liberty are ominous.

    Some of the fatherless (or those with ineffectual fathers) seek to compensate for the resulting insecurities through overachievement and are case studies of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

    Mark Twain even had an applicable insight on the subject of political narcissists: "A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval."

    Nowhere is that pathology more evident than when fatherless children, in their relentless pursuit of approval never provided by their own fathers, ascend to positions of power. The pages of 20th century history are rife with the tragic results of those who were raised with ineffectual or no fathers. The short list includes Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Mussolini, Idi Amin, Castro, Pol Pot, Saddam and bin Laden.

    Among those who have ascended from broken homes to positions of political influence in our own nation, there is a distinctive pathology associated with their insatiable quest for approval and power and their resulting advocacy for a platform of statism upon which to build their throne.

    The most notable recent examples are Bill Clinton, Al Gore and, of course, Barack Obama, who is a textbook case study of the threat posed to Liberty by such individuals in positions of power. The political, social, cultural and economic damage that these men have done in their warped search for power is considerable.

    It's no coincidence that Obama's most loyal constituencies are the product of the social, cultural and economic blight he leverages on urban poverty plantations.

    In his first campaign for president, Obama proclaimed, "What Washington needs is adult supervision." Unfortunately, young Barack never received any such supervision after having been abandoned by his own father. He is, consequently, in no position to provide it to anyone else, much less an entire nation. To be sure, all good-hearted Americans should possess a measure of compassion for Obama, whose bizarre formative years were marked by complete familial disintegration — none of which he is responsible for or deserved.

    I would suggest that the most revealing and honest remark Obama has uttered since his election was this unscripted observation: "I wish I had a father who was around."
    In his 1834 "Commentaries on the Conflict," Justice Joseph Story wrote, “Marriage is in its origin a contract of natural law. It is the parent, and not the child of society; the source of civility and a sort of seminary of the republic.” Indeed, marriage and family are a critical pillar of Liberty.

    So, what are Obama and his Democrat Party leaders doing to restore marriages and families across our nation?

    Nothing. And in fact they are overtly hostile toward these vital foundational institutions.

    Democrats are not only responsible for the so-called "Great Society" policies that have been instrumental in destroying families; they are advancing that destruction in every way possible.
    Their most successful assault on marriage and family since Obama took office has been the "progressive" homosexual agenda.

    Though only 3.4% of Americans self-identify as "gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered," the pernicious advancement of their agenda is very well funded, coordinated and executed. Consequently, almost half of adult Americans believe that 20-25% of Americans are LBGT. Part of the misconception might be that the highest percentage of LBGT are among the high-profile entertainment and Beltway media elite.

    Notably, it is women, youth and those with lower education who buy into the big percentage myth, which is why Democrats depend on their emotive voter strategy for election and re-election.

    Having declared June as "LGBT Pride Month," Obama, who tweeted accolades about how courageous "Caitlyn" Jenner is, announced the first appointment of a transgendered woman to a senior government post and invited Army Gen. Randy Taylor to introduce his "husband Lucas" at a "Pentagon Gay Pride" event.

    In addition to the Democrats' state-by-state assault on marriage, so-called "gay advocacy" organizations are targeting institutions that have strong family traditions, such as the church, our military service branches and even the Boy Scouts of America.

    Now, for the record, I'm a borderline Libertarian when it comes to personal Liberty, and as such I believe it's up to individuals to determine with whom they want to be "intimate." But Obama's "gay" agenda has nothing to do with individual freedom and everything to do with undermining Liberty and empowering the state.
    So where to go from here?

    The fate of the fatherless is, at best, a broken heart. At worst, it is the root cause of the social entropy we observe in contemporary American culture.

    On this Father's Day Centennial, we should pay tribute to the irreplaceable institutions of marriage and fatherhood — and the importance of a father's love, discipline, support and protection for his children. Every day, those of us who are fathers should encourage other fathers to be accountable for their marriages and their children.
    There is much that can be done for the fatherless — mentoring, coaching little-league sports, tutoring and volunteering to work with high-risk kids through an inner-city ministry, to name just a few. We, as American Patriots, must bridge the gap for these kids.

    With this in mind, I encourage you to support these good marriage and family advocacy organizations:

    Tony Dungy, the former professional football player who coached the Indianapolis Colts to their 2007 Super Bowl victory, has devoted much of his post-football years to coaching fathers. His All Pro Dad fatherhood mentoring organization produces an outstanding resource, a daily email for dads called the "Play of the Day." If you're a father of young children, I highly recommend you click here for this great resource and spread the word to other fathers. It's a quick read, and I guarantee fathers will find something in every edition that will improve their relationships with their children and their wives.

    Also visit First Things First, an outstanding organization under the leadership of my friend Julie Baumgardner. There are other fine national fathering resources at the National Center for Fathering and the National Fatherhood Initiative, Focus on the Family and James Dobson's great resources, American Family Association, the Family Research Council, Art of Manliness, and my colleague Jim Lee's Living Free Ministries.
    Mark Alexander
    Publisher, The Patriot Post ​
     

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