Erasmus of Rotterdam, by Hans Holbein the Younger
A couple of new guests have added some late posts to some of the older threads that are due to roll off soon. I think they have good points in them, and I’d like to let some of the more frequent guests here see them and free feel to comment on them too.
Mike McG posted on 'Baghdad ER – The Cost of War'.
Mike McG... said...
1. "We can't kill our way out of this war." So true; a profoundly helpful reframing. Thank you.
2. My wife and I saw Bagdad ER last night. Incredibly moving. We need to see the wages of war. Only regret: too little focus on Iraqi casualties.
3. While observing the stirring recent marches on behalf of undocumented immigrants, I reflected that we haven't seen such a massive outpouring on behalf of a peace and justice issue since the end of the Vietnam war. Commonalities, then and now: there were concrete, personal consequences for not marching. The House bill would criminalize the undocumented; the draft put middle class boys' lives at risk.
I seriously doubt we'd be in Iraq today if there were a draft. Middle class Americans wouldn't stand for sending their children, but somehow the economic conscription of the poor is tolerable, even to us progressives.
Mike makes a good point that the Baghdad ER program could have focused more on Iraqi casualties than it did, particularly Iraqi civilian casualties. I heard one doctor in the program saying that they kept our troops on one side of the unit, Iraqi civilians on the other, and “the bad guys” in between. The progam didn’t focus much on the Iraqi casualties, but the ‘On Point’ Radio program did a bit more. There was an interview with one doctor who related how an insurgent was brought into the unit, “coded” several times, but was rescued and revived. The insurgent was furious to have been rescued by the Americans. For all the suffering we’ve endured and inflicted there, I do think it says something about us as a people that we are willing to give the same level of care and effort to the insurgent casualties as we do to our own troops.
On the third point, Mike is absolutely right. If there was a draft in this country this Iraqi adventure would never have been embarked upon. Not a chance. Due to the fact that these soldiers all volunteered, there is far less reticence on the part of the government to use them, and there is danger in this. Our founding fathers were very distrustful about the idea of professional soldiery. That is why they preferred to see a citizen militia. As it stands now, our all-volunteer military, impressive as they are, are not reflective of the country as a whole. They tend to be “red-state”, southern in style and character, and politically conservative. I’m not saying that this is wrong in and of itself. It just tends to build an atmosphere in which the military feels isolated from the very people it has been assigned to protect. I fear that over time this professional class of warriors will tend to see themselves more and more as an embattled minority which lives in loyalty to itself and its own members, and its own values, and not to the “slackers” they’ve been commisioned to defend.
In the thread 'Greeley on Poland: Does affluence trump traditionalism?', my old friend Joseph has weighed in.
Joe is one of my two best buddies in the world. He has lived in Madrid since 1989. My other best friend, Kevin, lives in Berlin… as in Berlin, Massachusetts. :-)
Back in the 80’s we used to spend long nights talking into the small hours of the morning, exploring mysteries on faith, women, and trying to fix the world’s problems. Faith and the world’s problems were pretty easy relative to the other one. Women are still a mystery to us, and we admit that better men than us have tried to figure them out. ;-D
Joe gives his take on Spain, and I think his comments are eloquent and insightful. Donald Rumsfeld talks about “Old Europe”. There is still some wisdom left in old Europe, as my good friend has discovered.
We are what we eat. Its true in that the food we eat each day (lifestyle, culture, beliefs, biased and unbiased media, stance justification, etc ) shapes our perpective on everything from patriotism to religion. Put another way, its difficult to have the Vision to climb out of the box we live in to see (and accept) the experiences and views in the boxes just around us or in the ones far away from us. In fact, it takes a Visionary to do so, in spite of the fact that information at a global level is more available than ever.
The Spanish post-Franco knee-jerk reaction to the institutional church was predictable. Mass attendance and "practicing Catholicism" is about as low as it can go, yet the real stuff of Faith remains strong just below the surface of the collective Spanish skin.
Living the hard experience of 40 years of dictatorship and forced fed institutional Catholicism is quite a learning experience to have in your knapsack. The Spanish Civil war and the dictatorship that followed is recent enough for people here to have 1st and 2nd hand experiences "fresh" in their minds. Learning experiences can be painful (even unjust). But they always provide us a perspective that we did not have before that experience. In that sense even the painful experience has an extremely positive side in that it provides Wisdom and heightened perspective.
Growing up as an American Catholic (in my box) it was pretty easy to write off the European attitude as cynicism. After 17 years of living abroad its been interesting to discover that Wisdom is not so scarce (or cynical) as I might have believed.
I always had my own particular view on the "practice" of the Catholic Faith. I've always asked myself what Christ might have thought of the church born of His name, (which is another rant for another time...) My time in Europe has accentuated that perspective. Its so much about humanity through the perspective of the figure of Christ than about Divinity through the doctrine of an institution called the catholic church.
I honestly don't feel its self justification for where I find myself today. I feel blessed to "find myself" in tune with the journey toward Christ with many of the folks around me here on the old continent.