Supporting the war

am I the only one here who doesn’t support our troops?

On the one hand, I know that “war is hell.” Violence is ugly. On the other hand, I grew up in the 1950s around WWII veterans. They had no choice. They were drafted “for the duration” which mean, indefinitely until the war is over. So “support” is a complex question or a two edged sword if you will. If a service person needed a place to sleep in NYC I would pull out the air mattress for the living room floor. I do not think that war with Iraq and Afghanistan was the only possible course of action but then I am not an expert in such questions of foreign affairs and issues of military defense. Each and every war is different. The Civil War seemed to be individual battles in different farmers fields. WWI was trench warfare. WWII had moving “front lines” but a definite distinction between combatants and civilians. Vietnam did not have front lines but rather PERIMETERS. One was encircled and one could not easily distinguish between civilian and combatant so there were “free fire zones.” It is my understanding that the Spanish first developed Guerrilla (little war) tactics which successfully kept Napoleon out. I am doing this off the top of my head so pardon any errors or omissions. Now, as I see it, terrorism is as far beyond guerrilla as guerrilla was beyond American Revolutionary tactics, which in turn was a far cry from the regimented and choreographed wars of Napoleon. Someone once commented that every General is a professional historian. Even in Russian military academies the American Civil War battles are studies, as well as ancient battles.

My wife and I were watching a weekly television crime drama and a physician who was also a police officer was forced to shoot a criminal. The criminal collapsed. The officer/physician placed his finger on the criminals neck to detect a pulse and confirm death. The actors expression was obviously meant to explore the conflict between the physician who swears an Hippocratic (or Maimonidean) oath to preserve life vs. the law enforcement officer’s oath to defend and protect and use lethal force when necessary. I said to her that this is not realistic for me because if you issue a weapon to someone and authorize them to use lethal force under certain circumstances, then they must be comfortable with their duty. People become accustomed to what they must do. If they let each human tragedy eat away at them then it would destroy them. A physician must distance themselves from the unavoidable suffering and death of the terminally ill. A good prison officer cannot afford to have an emotional investment in the circumstances of their prisoners and remain ethical and effective. The worst tragedy is when young men go to combat and become intoxicated with the power of taking human life as we have seen in recent news. There are always emotional casualties among soldiers, police, health care workers. Often someone on a children’s cancer ward will burn out after a few years.

This thread is on a sensitive topic. We should bear in mind several things. 1.) Facebook has certain guidelines regarding groups. Comments which might possibly be regarded as some form of bias or hatred should be avoided as they may violate FB Terms of use and this group might be disabled. 2.) We should avoid temper,anger, flaming. 3.) This is a group for SJC alumni and so we have many “great books” types of observations which we may make on any thread topic, even the most controversial. 4.) This group is moderated and inappropriate comments will be deleted and unduly disruptive members may be remove from the group. I am NOT saying that anything inappropriate has been posted so far, but I do see the potential for a thread like this to go ballistic so FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED. Thank you.

@Lola: I am certain you learned much from your experiences. As Nietzsche said “If this does not kill me it will only make me stronger.” When I was in Junior High in the 1960s we had to read Stephen Crane’s “Red Badge of Courage.” My FATHER had to read that book in the 1930s. My stepson had to read that book in the 1990s, but in addition he had to read Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” which will now become a standard in the curriculum. Stephen Crane wrote his book in TEN DAYS FLAT, and had never seen an actual battle. Frankl wrote his book based on his experiences in the Nazi concentration camps. We are all well aware of how war experience influenced Hemingway, Salinger and Vonnegut (who survived the Dresden fire bombings in a meat locker.)

I do not want anyone to assume that what I am about to say is in any sense “preaching or proselytizing” and so I will mention that personally I am a self-identified eclectic Hindu-Buddhist pluralist. The New Testament mentions that “wars will always be with you until the end of time, wars and rumors of war.” Now we are also told that “blessed are the peacemakers.” We may deduce that those peacemakers shall make peace from time to time but that wars will be unavoidable. Moses, when he forbids the gleaning of fields adds almost as an afterthought that “the poor shall always be with you.” Jesus also mentions (almost as an afterthought) that the poor shall always be with you as the woman anoints his feet with precious ointment. Yet we see elsewhere that IF one would be perfect that they should sell all that they have and give it to the poor. The Epistle of James says that pure religion is simply to comfort widows and orphans in their affliction. Some years ago one Papal encyclical addressed the idea of eliminating world poverty. The dissonance of these various verses is self-evident. Even secular humanist social activists take up the goal of eliminating war and poverty quite apart from any dogma or doctrine of sacred scripture. War and poverty are our perennial koans which it is our duty to ever ponder and which are noble in theory but incommensurate with practical reality. So we become ethical Don Quixotes who sing “Dream the Impossible Dream” and then go off charging at windmills.

@Lola: I am an old parrot whose cage has been for years in many and various interesting parlors and I repeat what I have heard many times, but I thank you for your kind sentiments. I am like that phony wizard of Oz and I am what I only appear to be through the use of smoke and mirrors.

In a recent interview of Charlie Rose with Martin Amis, Christopher Hitchens is described as someone who can MARSHAL endless facts to support some argument as he delves into the seemingly bottomless search engine of his memory. Noam Chomsky also has that gift to MARSHAL so many facts and historical points. I admire the ability to “marshal evidence” in an impromptu fashion and it makes for a lively and engaging discussion. Ancient Jain philosophy has a notion of “anekantavada” (also called multipointedness) which literally means “no one single view” and means that any attempt to express reality is but one partial aspect of reality seen from one particular vantage point.

There are many intricate dynamics in the causal nexus of world military actions. This little Sufi teaching story is pertinent to our question at hand. “What is fate?” Nasrudin was asked by a scholar. “An endless succession of intertwined events, each influencing the other.”

“That is hardly a satisfactory answer. I believe in cause and effect.”

“Very well,” said the Mulla, “look at that.” He pointed to a procession passing in the street.

“That man is being taken to be hanged. Is that because someone gave him a silver piece and enabled him to buy the knife with which he committed the murder; or because somebody saw him do it; or because nobody stopped him?”

this group was started with NO MODERATION and a number of profane and inappropriate comments were made. Since we are all adults as you point out I am certain that no Admin will have any need to exercise their administrative power to delete comments or ban members, but racial or ethnic slurs will not be tolerated and the very fact that Facebook creates the position of Administrator with moderation powers means that they are necessary at times. So we are both in perfect agreement that 1.) we are all to mature to step beyond the bounds of good discretion, and 2.) administrative powers have been created to deal with instances where someone transgresses those bounds.

Here is the post which caused me concern:

Of course they aren’t ALL dim, but have you been to an army base? The vast majority are lost 18 year olds. But whatever. Brilliant or dumb, it probably wasn’t their decision to go kill whichever brown foreign teenagers we are supposed to hate this week.

Well, Ms R, then I suggest that since R K is the creator of this group you speak to him and explain that I am not doing a good job of being administrator and that he should ban me from the group and appoint someone more to your liking as an administrator. I am sure he will give your request serious consideration and perhaps accommodate you. Until such time I am an administrator and I perform my duty as I see fit in the best interest of the group regardless of whether you like it or not. Just for the record here is the post today which gave me concern – Someone wrote, regarding our recruits —- Of course they aren’t ALL dim, but have you been to an army base? The vast majority are lost 18 year olds. But whatever. Brilliant or dumb, it probably wasn’t their decision to go kill whichever brown foreign teenagers we are supposed to hate this week.(end of quoe) — You will notice that this post mentions the word “hate” and also mentions skin complexion. In my estimation that borders on inappropriate. The worst incident was when Oliver called Erik Grettir Jacobs a “worthless sack of dung.” Anyway, good luck in you efforts to ostracize me. It really all comes down to how Raighne Kirk wants the group moderated or whether anyone even cares if it is moderated. Remember, this group reflects upon SJC. Each of us can create any number of private groups and run them as we see fit so long as Facebook does not deem them as inappropriate. If I am willing to be intimidated by your complaints then I will be incapable of moderating the group and there is no point to my presence here.

@Everyone: 1.) The thread in question starts with these very words “sorry if this post offends anyone” which means that the author realized that such a topic might easily become offensive and get out of hand. 2.) Facebook IS controlled by bots which tally certain keywords, posting frequency and who knows what other algorithms so if we err then it is better to err on the side of being conservative and circumspect and tactful rather than overly passionate. 3.) We should develop some definitions or a constitution defining what is acceptable and what is not. 4.) I have not as yet deleted anyones post or removed anyone from the list but it is sobering to occasionally remind people that there is moderation. 5.) I did not HIGHLIGHT which post raised a red flag until I was challenged nor did I single out any individual by name to embarrass them. 6.) Ms. R initial post in this thread sounds like a vote to return to the chaos of F bombs and ad hominem. 7.) If it bothers anyone to know that there ARE rules and standards and consequences and they find that very notion of moderation oppressive then I question their maturity. … What Mr. S offers as definitions of trolling and flaming (plus reference to Facebook’s published official policy) is very constructive. I will repost it as a DOC and attempt to add to it.

Trolling: initiating or inciting an argument on the forum. Like a thread saying “Facebook Groups suck.”

Flaming: an offensive, blatantly insulting and disrespectful response or statement.

For example:

I say : “Facebook Groups is an interesting experiment. I like reading the Johnnies Group more than sifting through my newsfeed.”

Someone responds : “Well, you are an idiot and I hate whoever thought it was a good idea to add me to this group. I will now bug the shit out of all you for the next three days and then leave the group.”

I endorse these kinds of comments being deleted, as well as warning trolls and flamers that they may lose their membership.

Why does it matter? Because a culture of open dialogue is not without its nuisances. Because we have a good thing going, and I think it ought to be protected. Because I believe in editing, refining, and getting to the point.

I don’t have time to read through every thread, so I am glad that there are lots of admins. Do what you will.


I cannot believe that the color of someone’s skin, or their age, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation, creed and any other number of things are pertinent to any discussion. I doubt that anyone can recite the eye color of all the presidents from Washington to Obama. I find the following sentence offensive and unnecessary : “But whatever. Brilliant or dumb, it probably wasn’t their decision to go kill whichever brown foreign teenagers we are supposed to hate this week.” These are my values and I stand by them. I believe in being PROACTIVE and reminding the group of things BEFORE a discussion gets out of hand.


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