A good friend of mine posted one of the most detailed descriptions of the Navy Seals raid on Osama bin Laden’s property the very day before a helicopter with 22 of those SEALs was shot down, and all were killed. I know these details because I am utterly fascinated by these guys, the ultimate warriors. And while I am completely enthralled with the military Special Forces I am completely against the very idea of war. How can I hate the war but I love the warrior? This past year I’ve had to confront this dichotomy of feelings, and ask myself how can a person be so against something yet still be so amazed by the instruments of it. Could I celebrate banjos but dislike the music they make? Could I love strawberries but hate their taste? Could I exalt a writer but express abhorrence at all their work? I think not. Yet, I know I’m not alone in these feelings of both war and the warrior. I had these discordant points of view pointed out to me early this year by an ex-girlfriend who was adamantly opposed to the death penalty, as am I. It is one of the few hot-button social issues that my mind is made up on. But when these SEALs charged into the compound and ultimately killed the big scary terrorist number one, I gave a “way to go SEALs” shout-out in a public forum. It was quickly pointed out that I cannot be against the death penalty but yet cheer for the providers of that ultimate sentence. I did agree, but it forced me think about how I reached this place, and what path brought me to those feelings. Some introspection was obviously in order! Why am I fascinated by the Navy SEALs? I traced it back. Most of us guys who grew up in the ‘80’s watched Chuck Norris in “Delta Force”
or Sylvester Stallone as “Rambo”
or my father who watched Bruce Lee and John Wayne. And before that we played with our GI Joes, or we were outside “playing” war with our friends in the woods. I, along with about every other guy I grew up with, have been idolizing warriors since we could hold a toy gun. In fact, an amusing thing to watch is well meaning, but slightly over-protective (or in my case hippie) parents try to keep their boys from playing with toy guns, or playing “war.” It’s damn near impossible! It’s ingrained in us, and the more I thought about it the more I realized it’s just a pure biological evolutionary trait that has been passed down through the generations reaching back thousands of years. We have a massive yearning to be the toughest and baddest guy around from a young age so we can protect our “clan” and give our genes the best opportunity to be passed to the next generation. Males have a desire to emulate the alpha-male of the “clan,” but in today’s world, with today’s media, our “clan” is much bigger so we look to the Rambo’s of Hollywood or the Navy Seal’s of real life. And this is only speaking of the most primal of urges, survival. Obviously there are many other traits everyone looks up to as a child, but there is no stronger urge in the human body and mind than survival. One has to look no further than the fantastic and moving story of Aron Ralston. But thousands of years of evolutionary traits be damned, I am absolutely fascinated by these guys. They are the elite male archetype. One of the best books I’ve read in a long time was the story of Marcus Luttrell, “Lone Survivor,” who was one of four SEAL’s to take on over 100 Taliban fighters and was the only one to make it out alive. This bears repeating; four SEAL’s fought over 100 heavily armed Taliban fighters for HOURS over open ground before taking casualties. Here is the team.
This isn’t about war, it’s about the human will to survive. The story would be amazing even if it were pure fiction, the fact that it is true leaves any reader with a sense of awe at what a human is capable of surviving when pushed to the ultimate limits of life. 6 months later I still get chills just thinking about it…but war still sucks.
So...your explanation is that you're a guy, basically? :)ReplyDelete
Yes, but "Hey, I'm a guy" doesn't really work much in these times. Yall are too smart for that!ReplyDelete
And it would have made a VERY short blog post.ReplyDelete
Hey now dancing_lemur - I take offense to that as a girl that loves war movies. I'd say that as a anti-death penalty anti war gal who supports her troops and loves a good war movie (my fave by far is Apocalypse Now)I can understand the quandary - and answer it with the fact that it's hard not to admire the sacrifice involved in such endeavors as well as the extraordinary actions involved. How can you not get a little worked up? And yet when you step back and look at the big picture it's also fairly impossible, for me at least, to support the actual war. Some gut instinct makes us cheer those justice actions like Bin Laden's death, but when we step back from the moment we can realize that it doesn't match our convictions. Am I glad he's gone? Yes. Do I approve of the way it was done - well, that's much more complicated....ReplyDelete
The death penalty quandary in the case of bin Laden is something I purposefully avoided here knowing that it is a different conversation. But this is where we get into the "grey area." Should we kill (if no other option is available) someone that is preparing to harm innocent people? Most all would say yes. If I had to save my family from death by an intruder using a weapon I would. But I don't agree with individual states sentencing people to death for quite a few reasons, the biggest of which is that innocent people are wrongly convicted. I feel very strongly about that. Where does bin Laden fit into this picture?ReplyDelete
I think further complicating the Bin Laden thing is that we essentially did it in a foreign country that we essentially had no permission to be operating under those terms in - now I know some Special Forces folks so I know that it happens more often than we think but I don't know that it's the right way to go about it - particularly when we're already so hated in the world. Innocence projects nationwide have shown the problems with the death penalty by far, but for those it doesn't convince I usually point out the cost differences between life in prison and the death penalty. Last I checked it was significant......... eh, it's a long conversation, and difficult, huh?ReplyDelete