Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Monday, March 15, 2004  

An eternal problem with people

Yesterday I read (can't remember where) an article or blog that posed a simple question -- does freedom redeem the violence and deaths caused to create it?

We often celebrate the freedoms we have in America, but forget the cost involved after 1776. I believe that some 5000 men alone died of disease and mistreatment in the prison ships anchored in New York harbor during the war. Men who literally rotted away in those filthy, rotten hulks year after year while they awaited the outcome of the war. Most who had hardly been able to fire even a shot.

Tories and patriots were hanged, burned out of homes, driven from their land, not to mention the British losses.

We all agree that such a struggle was worth it. We generally like the result of that war, but I can see a Buddhist or Christian arguing that no act of rebellion is worthwhile. St. Paul makes the argument that slaves are to be submissive to their masters, it's their duty, and to accept their circumstances without bitterness or anger, but to serve all the more readily and pleasantly.

There is litle difference then in arguing that passive submission by citizens toward a ruling class or despot is the better part of valor.

Socrates said, "Do we not say that it is better to suffer evil than to do evil?" We can take him to mean a personal, social sense rather than a civic one. Socrates had no problem with war and violence to defend his city. But many pacifists today take that to mean a civic sense (while they are vicious personally toward individuals).

Violence is a terrible, terrible thing, yet I cannot accept that freedom is not worth it. Even though we are mortal, and freed from contention after a time; and that free societies are fleeting, and that many people are free riders on the sacrifices of others -- it still seems worth it to me. Even though, we must demand that young men (and now some women), who are filled with the springtime of life wanting to marry, mate, and beget, risk their beckoning futures for the sake of very imperfect, and less than grateful fellows -- still, heroic sacrifice and violent action seems worth it to me.

Samuel Johnson said, "Every man thinks meanly of himself for having never been a soldier."

That's a keen feeling and true one.

I doubt I shall stand before God as a man who has killed another. I do not envy those who have done so, yet as I value freedom, I wish I could share in the culpability of the violence that has made me and kept me free. I wish I could have been a warrior, or had a son raised to be a warrior (among other things).

We have enough effete, clever, scheming, smart men in America. What we need now are more warriors, and respect for a martial ethos.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 12:30 PM |