Saturday, July 16, 2011

Do I have a choice?

In my last post I asked:
And if I do have a duty, is that duty sacrosanct?  Do I have a say in how much effort should be put in for that honor?
What if honor was taken out of the question?  What if honor is only there because of the effort itself?  A gift with purchase kind of arrangement?  Start a war, honor comes forward.  Can't stop the war in any other way but to preserve honor.  The war must continue for the honor or end with honor.  Chicken or the egg...

So here is the real kicker, the one thing I can't seem to rectify or come to a nice clean feeling about.  I can't be objective about it, because it pisses me off.  But I know I am being objective about it.  There is no other way for me to look at it.  I must accept it for what it is or ignore it for what it shows.

Had the war and draft continued, here would have been my choices:
  • Go, if my number was called.
  • Get a college deferment, and allow someone else to go and fight in my place.
  • Go to Canada, and let someone else go and fight in my place.
  • Say "no" and go to jail, and let someone else go and fight in my place.
  • Pretend something is wrong with me, and let someone else fight in my place.
  • Enlist in one of the branches that has little chance of seeing combat, and let someone else go and fight in my place.
Those would have been my choices.  Only one - the first bullet - is fair.  All the others put my needs ahead of someone else who was not as smart or savvy or willing to choose another way.  It sucks to be you is not something I can live with.

This, by the way, does not condemn nor condone what anyone else did.  Regardless of which choice someone picked who actually had to choose, bullet number was to only fair choice to pick.  If x number of men were needed, those that did not show up when called were replace by someone else.  Fundamentally, there is no difference between dodging and joining the Texas Air National Guard.  Not going required someone else to go in your place.  A legal way to get one's self out of combat is no different than burning a draft card.  If 150,000 troops are needed, someone else would be in the 150K.  It sucks to be you.

That's the pisser in all of this.  Maybe that's what they want with a draft.  Can you live with the guilt if you don''t do your duty or you allow some other lesser educated or less connected sap to take your place?  Well...can you punk?

Which bring me back to my question?  If I do have a duty, is that duty sacrosanct?  Do I have a say in how much effort I should put in to fulfill my duty and/or expunge my guilt?

At some point the ones who are drafted must have the ability to say: stop!  They are the ones that not only shed their blood, limbs, and sanity, but are also the ones put in a situation where the choice is not simple duty and honor, but one of fairness.

There was no choice for those drafted who began to understand that the Vietnam war was not a war we should be fighting.  For me, as I look at it now, to do anything other than go would bring about a profound sense of guilt, especially when I would come to realize that I had passed the buck onto someone else.  It sucks to be them, like I said, does not work for me.

So yeah, I think I have a right to question my country's motives.  I think I have a right to go against her wishes for my blood.  Even if I am wrong regarding the 'worthiness' of the war, I have that right to do so - since I will be the one asked to be the blood and treasure required to do her bidding.

And therein lies the problem.  Had I concluded that the war should stop, it would have been counter to those in charge who said it should continue.  To stop it, I must not participate and must get others to not participate as well.  I must now actively be involved in sedition.  Hell no I won't go requires many others to get the damn thing to stop.

But hell no I won't go places me at odds with those, like my father, who think duty is what matters.  It puts me at odds with those who think America's honor is at stake.  It puts me at odds with my government's requirement of me as one of its citizens.  And worst of all, it places the burden on another young man who simply does what their country has asked them to do.

So the path of least resistance would have been to take my chances with the draft.  That would have been the most fair way to go about it.  To accept it, do it, and hope for the best.  To be a sheep, so to speak.  Go where they tell me, do what they tell me.  No questions asked, simply do what you have been asked to do.

As I look at it now, it kind of pisses me off.  Mainly because I would not have seen it back then.  I would have been a sheep because that's what they want and need their citizens to be.  It's not that I don't want to die in war - hell, I don't want to die period.  It's the inability to have a say in whether I should, or should not participate.  That's the pisser.  There is no choice at the time but to fulfill their request for blood and treasure until someone in power stops it.  They knew in 1967 that it was not working.  They ended it 1973.

But even to this day, 38 years later, stopping it has never set right with the absolutists who never got their peace with honor or a check mark in the 'win" column.  They didn't lose the war for us.  It was those that questioned why we were there and if we should continue.  And in asking that question, they conclude, our will to win was diminished.

So if I don't have a choice, is it appropriate to ask: what exactly should doing my duty demand from me when it is demanded of me?

Next Post: Does opposing the war wound those who are not opposed to it?


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