Sunday, June 22, 2008

"Heroic Actions" - and The Military

I was listening to Air America Radio yesterday and was bothered by the repeated references the program host made to essentially saying that soldiers and veterans of the U.S. military are heroes whom we should honor. Given that repeatedly on Air America one hears of the need to end the War in Iraq and how President Bush was totally wrong in sending troops there for the current War, such references - stand out in my mind.

Obviously it was wrong for Americans to disrespect and do worse towards veterans returning from Vietnam in the late 1960's and early 1970's. The soldiers are not responsible for the war policies that our "leaders" repeatedly take. We should not criticize the soldiers, but rather the "warmakers".

There is a difference between trashing veterans and making them into heroes in one's statements.

Saying that soldiers and veterans are "heroes" glorifies their "sacrifices" and indirectly makes the military and through them Wars out to be a Logical place for young people to go seeking heroism and similar.

IF we really believe in ending racism, sexism, domestic violence, rape, economic injustice and similar we really need to view those who do a lot in such areas as our true heroes. Marion Wright Edelman who founded The Children's Defense Fund in 1973 is a good example of someone I would call a "hero". She has done an incredible amount of wonderful work to help others over many years. Paul Robeson, Cesar Chavez, I.F. Stone, Bayard Rustin and many others - often not famous are some of my heroes.

A civil-rights fixture in Louisville for more than five decades, Anne Braden fought tirelessly for desegregated schools, open housing, equal policing, gay rights and racial tolerance. .... Braden and her husband, Carl Braden, gained national attention in 1954 when they bought a house for an African-American couple in an all-white neighborhood near Shively. .....Since then, she's spoken out on a range of issues, including gay rights, Rubbertown pollution and police shootings of black residents. She taught classes on civil rights and social-justice history at Northern Kentucky University and at the University of Louisville. ....Even after turning 80, Braden continued to show up at local council meetings and protests. She attended an antiwar march in Washington last fall, riding in a wheelchair amid thousands of marchers.
(from her obit - 2006 - Anne and Carl Braden - were true "heroes".

Many heroes do incredible things in their lives despite facing abuse as a child or as an adult, or simply doing "simple" (complex really) things like caring for a severely handicapped child or helping others in many, many ways. Many such heroes give an incredible amount to others seeing how giving helps them within their spirit - their soul - their essence. Often they see the interconnectedness of many issues and don't see their lives and causes in isolation from the larger worlds around them.

I wouldn't want to say that a soldier could not be a Hero. I would, though say that saving the lives of others and similar in war, while certainly is honorable, supporting the killing of others by being a soldier is Not always "good". It is sad that joining the military is seen by so many as either an economic necessity or as a The Way to be Heroic. Someday I hope that people will see being a nurse or teacher or many other things as being "the way to be heroic" -
in the ways that so many of our young and others see being a soldier and veteran today.


No comments: