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Monday, May 26, 2014

Don't Let Them Use The Valor Of Our Troops As A Moral Shield

Every holiday that focuses on the military brings the same nebulous message: 'Support the troops because they are defending our freedoms.' Tragically, such a message relegates the courage of and sacrifices made by our troops to the role of a pet dog in a house full of turmoil. Certainly, everybody may be at each other's throats, but because everybody likes and pets the dog we learn to tolerate each other's actions. 

Thus, our leaders' call to support the troops  works likes a misdirection play in football where you fake giving the ball to one player so that there are fewer defenders there to tackle the real ballcarrier. The call to 'Support the troops,' whether it comes from the officials in our government or leaders from the media, is an emotional appeal to make sure one will pay more attention to what the troops suffer through than to why our leaders are sending them in harm's way. Then the claim, 'they are defending our freedoms,' tells us they are being sent for noble reasons. We might question our leaders' wisdom of sending them to a particular place but we won't question their motives. 

Because we become so engulfed in supporting the troops in their "defense" of our freedoms, the prospect of questioning why our troops are engaged in their missions can create an overwhelming amount of dissonance. That is because if our troops are not defending our freedoms, the decisions of our leaders makes the scars of our troops both unbearable for them and an indictment on us. 

So for many of us, the only way to handle the dissonance is to avoid it altogether. But because avoiding the dissonance requires our silent cooperation, the sending of troops for other reasons than defending freedom or helping others continues. 

Thus we have a choice. We can brave the dissonance, just as our troops brave the suffering and dangers of their missions, by thoroughly investigating the whys of each time they are being sent in harm's way or we can stay within the safety of our slogans. If we do the latter, then the only courage we will have displayed is vicarious as we continue to compensate for our guilt by admiring our troops' valor. At the same time, our troops will continue to suffer by being objects of power for our leaders whose reasons for sending our troops will remain a secret. And for as long as our leaders' reasons remain a secret, we will have fallen short of giving our troops the respect and honor they deserve.



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